Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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A couple of weeks ago there was a query on the Web about the Walton Training Class, and I sent each of you my response to it. Today I was searching for something; I never did find what I was looking for, but I ran across this item, which will fill in some blanks. It is not dated but I would judge that my mother wrote it around 1970 (When was the Library moved into the old Center School? That dates it more or less). --Allan Davidson, May 7, 2002

Rural Schools
By Lois Davidson

Bovina is the smallest town in Delaware County and in my day I can remember ten schools situated in various parte of the town. The Center schoolhouse is at present the village library; the Bramley Mountain building is a hunting lodge, the Biggar Hollow one is used for hay storage; Lake Delaware, Pink Street, Bovina Miller Avenue are all used as homes, while the Maynard school, Coulter Brook and Ed Coulter schoolhouses stand empty. In this day of consolidation, with the yellow buses running daily, the rural school is a thing of the past in our town.

In looking through my old diaries, I am reminded of days of yore when I trained to be a rural school teacher. In 1912 I began high school work in a private class in Bovina Center, taught by Miss Jennie Mabel Hastings, a retired teacher. This was a class of boys and girls, whose parents decided it might be cheaper to educate them at home for another year than to send them out of town.

The following year I attended Walton High School where I earned enough credits to enter the Training Class there. This was taught by Miss Emma Dann, one dedicated to her work of making a good teacher out of rather raw material at times. How her dark eyes would snap if lessons were not prepared. Woe be unto you if she happened to meet you on the street chewing gum! Such actions were not becoming to future schoolmarms.

After a weekend at home my father would start out about five A.M. with a team of horses to catch the Delhi Flyer at seven A.M. so I would reach school on time. Transportation is far different these days.

I graduated in 1915 and was hired to teach at the Miller Avenue district at $10 a week. We had to do our own janitor work. I well remember coming home from school the first day saying I would rather earn my living doing manual labor. I eventually grew to like it and taught six years ending with a salary of $20 a week.

The teacher might have as many as eight grades in the school and had to do a bit of juggling to get all classes in the day's schedule. We were required to attend a teachers conference held in February at Stamford where we stayed at the OLDE DELAWARE INN. To play a joke on a fellow teacher, we would make "an apple pie bed." The bottom was brought up to resemble the top one so there was a short bed. I do not know why it was called "apple pie" unless it was the "shortening." Another old trick was to put cracker crumbs in the bed. Our nights had more chatter than sleep, like the slumber parties of today. This sounds like we left our dignity at home.

Arthur T. Hamilton was the district superintendent and made surprise visits to supervise our work as a teacher.

During World War One the schools had physical training exercises to help the pupils develop physical fitness. Hector Cowen of Hobart came to give demonstrations.

When the Armistice was signed in November of 1918, it was a day of jubilation. Schools were let out, we went to Andes with our horns tooting, bells were rung, and speeches were made to celebrate the great news.

Each district had their annual meeting in May, and the big questions the next morning were "Who was elected trustee? Whom did he hire?" Now such duties are taken away from the localities and put under the jurisdiction of the consolidated districts.

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