The country school I attended was a two room school and had two teachers instead of only one. Grades one through four were in one room and five through eight were in another room. It was an old school, established in 1870, and was School District No. 1 in the county. I remember the old school building well, but I remember the teachers even better.
The first of these teachers was Miss Bloomberg. She was a tall, blue-eyed blonde of Swedish descent. She dressed well and was quite attractive, at least I thought so. She was as much a mother as a teacher. Several times I ended up on her lap as she comforted me and tended to my minor wounds. I can still remember that she always carried a faint trace of perfume about her, which was uncommon in those days. About midway through her second term she contracted the measles and was absent for several weeks. A substitute teacher was brought in. I didnít get along with her too well and was relieved when Miss Bloomberg returned. Miss Bloomberg was caring and compassionate. I fell in love with her that year.
Another teacher I remember was Miss Smith. She was quiet, mild-mannered and very young. The boys in the classroom tended to take advantage of her, like disappearing out the window when her back was turned. They would also hide all the chalk and erasers when they knew she was about to write something on the blackboard.
Teachers in those days often boarded with one of the families that lived close by. They were paid the sum of forty dollars a month and out of that would come their room and board. Miss Smith boarded with a family that had three boys. She married one of the boys and became a farmer's wife.
Miss Reust was one of my teachers when I graduated to the upper grades. She was a petite lady with a brilliant mind, but a somewhat cool personality. She demanded strict discipline in her classroom. It was from her that I learned that discipline was a necessary constraint if one expected to become successful in life.
During my seventh and eighth grades I had Miss McCrae. She was a large lady of Scottish descent. Although her speaking voice was eloquent she spoke with a slight Scottish burr that I loved to hear. Miss McCrae not only taught us the basic elements of arithmetic, history and geography, she also gave us some practical hints. When I had a little trouble spelling arithmetic, she quoted this little rhyme: A Rich Irishman Thought He Might Eat Toads In Cream. Ever since then I could spell the word with no trouble. The rhyme for geography was: George Edward's Old Gray Rat Ate Paw's Hat Yesterday.
If we had a fight, and we all did at some time or another, she would keep us after school. She would then negotiate a peaceful settlement by talking out our differences. From her I learned that there are very few problems in this world that can't be solved by talking to one another. Her motto was, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
Miss McCrae also taught us the social graces that were not in any textbook. We learned the need for sanitation, including hand washing before meals. She also taught proper table etiquette and body cleanliness. In short, she transformed crude little country boys into responsible teenagers. She told us we could become anything we wanted to be if we would use our God-given talents to the fullest. She was a great inspiration to me.
Still another great teacher was really not a teacher at all, but an ex-teacher. He was our County Superintendent of Schools and his name was Paul Fitzpatrick. He came to visit our school once a year. In one of our classes we touched on physics and the subject of friction. Mr. Fitzpatrick demonstrated and described friction by having us rub the palms of our hands together briskly, producing heat caused by friction. His demonstration whetted my appetite for science.
The teachers in that old two room school were not highly educated. Most of them had a high school diploma and a teaching certificate from a Normal School. They didn't have many conveniences to aid them and they were not well paid. But somehow they managed to impart to me a considerable amount of extra curricular knowledge and information, which became my cornerstones for living a better life.