Meet the Folks - Ep. FO6 - … of Oak Springs - Teacher Talk
They dined together on Friday nights
Four teachers had dinner together on Friday nights in 1878-79
During the 1878-1879 school year, in Oak Springs, on most Friday nights, four of the teachers at the schools, who each happened to be single, and needed a place to eat anyway, got together at a corner table at the Diamond Restaurant and ate together. They also just enjoyed each other’s social company for the evening. The table was always saved for them so that their routine would not be disturbed. Late in May of 1879, it appeared that this might be their last meal together, on a regular basis as the school year was ending. Let’s listen in to some of their conversation.
Professor Quinton Chambers: Well, Alex, is this really going to be our last meal with you as a fellow teacher?
Alex McDonald: Yes, as a fellow teacher that is true. I have resigned my teaching position as of the end of the school year to work full time for the Potts Print Shop and the Oak Springs Enterprise. Jerry Potts has offered me an opportunity I just cannot turn down, as much as I have enjoyed working with the young people.
Nellie Truesdale: I will truly miss having you at school, Alex. We have been through so much together, getting the school started. And now, it is so much a part of our lives.
Andrew Gilmore: I do understand how you fell though, Alex. I’ve just been here for my first school year, of course, but it has been wonderful being able concentrate on doing one job well. At the university, I had to work as well as go to school, and that was tough.
Alex: Yes, Andrew. I’ve had two very different jobs now, for a few years. While I love each of them, and give them all I have, I know I would be better off just concentrating on one. I look forward to that.
Nellie: I hope we can still get together regularly, even if you are no longer teaching.
Quinton: You are certainly always welcome, that is for sure.
Andrew: I will really miss you if you don’t join us. Listening to your experiences has been very helpful to me. I would miss that.
Alex: I hope we can continue, as well. However, I may not be a regular. My work duties may keep me away, sometimes, and that has to take priority, of course.
All nodded their concurrence, and fell silent in their own thoughts for a few minutes.
May flowers in the Ozarks
The conversation resumed
Andrew: OK, Alex and Nellie, this may be the last chance I have to ask this, so I’m just going to blurt it out… I hope you won’t hate me for asking. Did you two ever have romantic thoughts toward each other? You are the same age, you’ve spent a lot of time together, and seem to be very good friends. It just seems like nature would have brought you together at some point?
Alex and Nellie look at each other, and seemed to quietly chuckle at this question.
Nellie: We won’t hate you for asking, Andrew. We’ve actually asked ourselves the same question over the years. We are close friends. We actually feel more like brother and sister I suppose we’ve decided. My older sister, Jane, is married to Daniel, who is Alex’s uncle. But, Alex grew up under the same roof with them, so they feel like close family, even if they are not. That sort of translates to me, I suppose.
Alex: That is certainly an important aspect. Also, of course, as close as we have been in that respect, we did grow through our ‘formative’ years, our teen years, if you will, in very different environments, related to the late war, of course. I was living out of a cave with my grandfather - practically like an isolated mountain man, for all practical purposes. Nellie was going to school, in civilization. Also, she was totally devoted to becoming a teacher, from a very early age.
Nellie, looking at Alex with a big grin: And, he is much too short for me.
Alex, shaking his head, as well as grinning: And, she is much too tall for me. That is for sure.
Quinton, sitting quietly, wondering where this conversation was going to go: Well, I’m glad that we got that cleared up. Satisfied, Andrew?
Andrew, a bit sheepishly: Yes, I am. I am also glad I asked. I was certain they would have a good answer, … and, I wanted to hear it. Thank you very much.
Alex would work at the newspaper full-time
The conversation continued
Quinton: Can you tell us a little more about how your work with the Potts family will change when you go full-time with them, Alex?
Alex: I’m not entirely sure of the details, quite frankly. Our discussions so far are that he wants me to be more involved in all of the details of the entire operations. Being gone every afternoon, I do miss out on quite a few things. Some of those things are key to how the business operates. I just need to be available to participate when key events occur. I feel like it is a good move for my future.
Nellie: Are there certain parts of the printing and newspaper business you feel more comfortable with than others?
Alex: Excellent question, Nellie. Honestly, I think that is really what I want to find out for myself. To this point, I don’t really know what I don’t know yet. That will come when I am available full-time. And, in this business, that is not just the business hours during the day. We each take turns covering ‘afterhours’ events. I need to learn more about some of that, as well.
Andrew: Well, we certainly wish you the best, Alex. And, we hope you’ll continue to join us on Friday nights, when you can.
All agreed with that conclusion.
Note from the author
This is the sixth episode of the short story (FOx) series, Meet the Folks | … of Oak Springs. Each episode will explore, at first hand, some folks who lived in Oak Springs c. 1880. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. These episodes are around the 1880 time frame, following by a couple of years the 40 episodes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” stories. That series had followed the time period of the “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These FOx episodes provide depth and background stories for the entire "Saga" series. “The Kings of Oak Springs” Episode 41 has now resumed the stories as 1882 begins.
The first 40 episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs" Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”