This week the kids started school but their school days are very different from the one room schools that were attended by my Dad and even myself. There were no bus stops, hot lunches, or gymnasiums. Franklyn Hanson, along with his brothers Bud and Jerry and his sister, Phyllis attended Jordan Center School, School District No. 1. Jordan Center School was located at the intersection of Highway 81, County Rd M and Jordan Center Rd in Green County, Wisconsin. Today the building is the Jordan Township Hall.
According to the 1940 census record my grandparents, Art and Martha Hanson, rented a farm on Lewis Rd which was most likely a mile or two from the school. I can find one of their neighbors on a 1936 plat book so I have a general idea where the farm may have been on Lewis Rd. Art’s sister and brother-in-law, Irma and Dennis Flannery, lived nearby on County Rd M. Therefore dad went to school with his cousins, Donald, Maxine, Glen and Rosella Flannery. In 1936 Mildred Galway was his teacher. In the picture below my Dad is on the far left in the middle row (the one standing with his hands in the pockets).
They did not have fancy clothes. You will notice all the boys are wearing bib overalls and button shirts with collars. No t-shirts back then. The girls are all wearing dresses. Even in the late 60’s I still wore dresses to school as slacks were only allowed to be worn underneath the dress coming and going to school during cold weather. I think everyone was dressed in their better outfits for this picture as I notice there are no patches on any of the clothes.
Because Dad lived on the farm I’m sure that before going to school he and his sister and brothers had chores to do. They may have fed the cows or gathered eggs from the chickens before grabbing their lunches to walk to school. The lunch bucket was made from an empty lard pail or a Karo syrup pail which had a lid and metal handle for carrying to school. His lunch may have consisted of a bologna or peanut butter and jelly sandwich on homemade bread. During the fall some fruit such as an apple may have been included along with other treats like a hard-boiled egg, a pickle or a cookie or cake.
There would have been no plumbing or electricity in his school. Out back somewhere were 2 outhouses and during the winter someone had to shovel a path to them. As one of the older boys I’m sure dad did that a few times. Most one room schools had tall windows on both sides of the room to let in as much light as possible. The room contained many sizes of desks in rows facing the chalkboard. The littlest children were in the front of the room, while the oldest children sat in the back. A water cooler sat at the back of the room and one of the students had the job of carrying a pail of water from the pump outside and filling up the water cooler. During the winter the boys filled the wood box for the woodstove. The teacher would come early to start the fire so it was warm when her students arrived. A large bookshelf with many books consisted of the school “library”. Above the chalkboard a chart of cursive handwriting and printed alphabet helped the students learn penmanship. Attached to the chalkboard hung a set of maps that pulled up and down, like a window shade. Maybe on the teacher’s desk or on an upright piano you would find a battery-operated radio for listening to educational radio programs. Wisconsin School of the Air had begun airing 10 programs weekly in the 1930’s that continued to air for the next 45 years. I remember listening to programs like “Let’s Draw” and “Journeys in Music Land”. These programs opened up opportunities beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. Recess was filled with games like Anti-I-Over, Hop Scotch, Marbles, Fox & Goose, Red Rover and Baseball.
In 1934, 1936, 1937 Frank Hanson received awards for punctual and regular attendance for not being tardy or absent during the school year. The students receiving the award were recognized in the community newspaper by the school district. He would not attend school much beyond that as he would have graduated from eighth grade in 1938 or 1939. On the 1940 census he was working on the farm with his dad.
Below is a picture from around 1990 of the Jordan Center School reunion. Dad is in the third row far left.
Bodilly, S. (2013). One room schools: Stories from the days of 1 room, 1 teacher, 8 grades. Madison,, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
The Wisconsin School of the Air: Success Story with Implications. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2015, from http://www.ifets.info/journals/5_1/bianchi.html