Recently there was a request in the local newspaper where I spent my childhood for articles containing memories of growing up years. I began to wrack my brain, (an interesting phrase now that I think about it), for any such memories. And I asked myself if I really wanted to write about the ones which readily come to mind, as those were usually embarrassing.
Would it be about the time I was hit by a spit ball in country school and got caught throwing it back, and had to write many times, “I will not throw spitballs in school”? I never did again. Or should it be the time I forgot to bring the drinking water?
Our little country school sat on a small knoll, surrounded by tilled fields, and was at least a mile from anyone’s farm. It was a one-room school house with windows on the south side, and a small entry for coats and boots and some bookcases.
An old barn sat a ways away and provided shelter for any horse ridden as a means of transportation to school, and the object we threw the ball over in “ante over.” In ante over, two teams of students on opposite sides of the barn threw a ball to each other and if the ball made it over the roof, the person catching the ball tried to tag members of the throwing team as they rounded the building, changing sides of the barn, thereby gaining new members to their team. It was always a guess as to which side to round the barn and miss the tagger. If the ball failed to go over the roof, the thrower yelled “pig’s tail!” then tried again.
We also had a crock water cooler in the school room that was to be filled by students taking turns bringing drinking water to school. Every farm had their own well, but the school yard did not have a well. There was no phone, and that year, the teacher had no car. She boarded, (lived, slept and ate) at my parents’ place, which was three miles from the school. My dad provided transportation to and from school for both of us.
It was a hot day in spring or fall, the season escapes me, and I forgot to bring a can of water to school. By afternoon recess, there was a bunch of thirsty kids. Not everyone brought drinks with their lunch from home, or brought much to drink.
Soon, a bunch of us younger kids, (I think I was in third grade that year) were gathered around a somewhat fetid pond of water in the ditch a little ways from the school yard. It looked clear, sitting there surrounded by grass and rushes. Tongues were very dry and the sun was very hot, and we had played hard at noon hour and during recess.
Then, deciding factor, we found a rusty can lying in the ditch. After each of us had a small drink to quench our thirst, we headed back to class.
Only a couple first graders got sick that night that I remember. But the upset stomach didn’t linger, thank goodness.
However, over a half century later, the memory, and the embarrassment, lingers amongst more happy memories created at that little country school.