The Little Red Schoolhouse

Evelyn Haynes Monroe

The little Red Schoolhouse was such an important part of our early years. I went to school there from 1925 to 1935. One teacher, Bridget Reagan, taught for over 40 years. What an inspiration she was. Living on East Main Street, near Wescott’s Garage, she walked to the school every morning (winter included). When she got to school it was tend the fire-get the larger boys to “fetch the water” each day from the Landry farmhouse-clear the walks before our lessons started.

No curtains. No running water. No central heating-a large old, stove in one corner of the one room schoolhouse. The stove had a jacket around it-so little ones wouldn’t get burned. On very cold days our desks were moved as close to the stove as possible.

Besides the classroom we had a girl’s bathroom and a boy’s bathroom and a lunchroom. When our sandwiches were frozen by noon, we knew it was time to leave our lunch pails and our drinking water on a table in the schoolroom.

What fun we had at recess time–Fox-and-Geese in the meadow across the road, ball games, swinging on the one swing and waiting our turn for the one teeter-totter. The school was the “social center” for Hampshire Hollow with parent-teacher meetings.

The Christmas program was the biggest event of our school year, with Walter McIntyre playing Santa Claus. We all knew who was Santa because Mr. McIntyre was the only parent who smoked cigars. I remember doing Dickens’ Christmas Story. We had our own “Tiny Tim” as we had a student with a bad leg and a limp.

The PTA kept our school open by providing money for hot lunches (soup) to go with your cold sandwiches. Cocoa was a real treat.

Other teachers remembered are Elizabeth Shaw, Irene Sennett, and Anna Daly.

It was not bad having eight grades in one room. You could absorb education from higher grades when your own work was done. I don’t remember much confusion even though we had 6 year olds and 16 year olds in the same room. There was a large heavy ruler in Miss Reagan’s desk. I never remember her using it, but it came out of the drawer occasionally and that was enough to end the problem. Our Superintendent was Professor Fred Wallace who dropped in to check on all.

I really feel we learned much more than spelling, arithmetic and geography. We learned how to share with others, how to use our imaginations at play, how to handle and count money (from fundraisers). We said our prayers each morning and we saluted the flag at the start of each day. We respected our teachers and we respected our parents. We respected education. A good beginning for many of us.

Copyright permission from GROWING UP IN THE HOLLOWS: A collection of childhood memories in Hampshire Hollow and Clark Hollow, Poultney VT.  Printed 2002.