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Chuck Hinman. IJMA 148 revised: New Hope Country School

This revised version just came from Chuck Hinman and it's perfect for Sunday. I separated those memories so it would be easy to read on the screen. From my own elementary days I do remember The Golden Book of Songs and dusting erasers. -Robert H. Stone Is Chuck Hinman your favorite Sunday with CM columnist, as many tell us? If so, we hope you'll drop him a line by email. Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at:
The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 107, School Days

By Chuck Hinman

New Hope Country School

In the "olden days" there were large areas of rural Nebraska served by one-room, one-teacher elementary schools. Those schools were divided into districts and provided education from grades one through eight for all the kids living in that district. The kids then attended high school in nearby towns depending on where they lived.

The Hinman kids went to New Hope District 122 country grade school one half mile east of our home.There was no school bus transportation and kids walked to school or rode ponies. No one had a bicycle.

My first year at New Hope began in September 1927. Somewhere in our family archives is a school picture of some thirty plus neighborhood kids standing on the east side of the school with Marie Mack our teacher. Those days are so dear to me I can tell you the first and last names of every one of those kids. Families represented in that picture included - Fulton, Johnson, Kinney, Price, Nolan, Hinman, Coffee, Earnhart, Hurtz, Dillow, Showen, Hartwig, and Pinkston. The Johnson kids lived two miles from school, the farthest, and the Dillow were closest living only a quarter of a mile away, the site for the school taken out of their farmstead.

When I graduated from the eighth grade in 1935, school enrollment had dropped considerably and not all eight grades were represented.

Some of the teachers besides Marie Mack were Mattie Taylor, Marie Hellmer, and Betty Garvin.

I don't have to tell this but I will. I have what is probably a Nebraska record, if not a national record, for being spanked the very first day I attended school. And my family could yawn and say "so what's new?"

Because of the harsh weather and the fact that central heat and air-conditioning were unheard of, all schools including urban schools commenced in early September and were over in mid-May.

In the month of August Mom put together her kids' school supplies and clothing for the ensuing year. She had been stashing away a little each week from her egg sales for this one-time hefty expense. Sometime in early August we had a family outing to our big city, Beatrice, Nebraska, for this happy occasion of buying our school supplies and clothing. This one-time "buying orgy" for the kids exceeded every other event including Christmas and it seemed wonderful for a change in our economically stressed lives.

Among a few other things, I could count on two pair of bib overalls, a couple blue chambray shirts (just like Dad's), possibly a new pair of leather high-top work shoes (just like Dad's), and an assortment of Red Chief tablets, pencils, crayons, and if lucky and the money held out, a new dinner pail and thermos jug. God was good and we knew it and acknowledged it in our family.

A few memories that come to mind of my New Hope days besides the first day are these:
- hearing all eight grades recite their lessons every day -- no wonder I knew how to spell CONSTANTINOPLE by the second grade;

- flash cards for everything including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even phonics;

- all-school programs to a packed crowd at Christmas, and last day of school when the teacher put up those gaudy stage curtains, singing all those songs from the Golden Book of Songs like "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (what's a bonnie);

- the A. N. Palmer method of penmanship, remember "push-pulls and oval";

- how about dinner pails and ink wells;

- shooting paper wads when the teacher wasn't looking;

- playing "Andy Over" at recess;

- dreading being chosen "last" for the team;

- dusting erasers for teacher;

- flag salute to start the day;

- building snow forts and snowball fights;

- throwing rocks at Sport to keep him from following us to school....
And you wrote on my slate "I love you so" when we were a couple of kids....

Note: This is an expanded version received August 11, 2011, of the original written by Chuck Hinman on April 4, 2008.

This story was posted on 2011-08-14 10:14:49
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