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The Kings of Oak Springs - Episode 53 - The 1882-83 School Year Began

Updated on November 18, 2017
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

She kept a list of newborns in the valley

A baby
A baby

Karl King returned home from the School Board Meeting in early September

After each school board meeting that Karl King attended, he and Katherine would discuss some elements of the meeting. They never discussed confidential information, of course, but it gave both of them a sense of what was going on, generally. Katherine appreciated knowing what Karl was doing. Karl found it useful to review the meeting in his mind as they discussed it. He would continue to think about certain aspects, over and over again, of course. As the second new year under the public school statutes, of course, had gotten underway, finances were a key topic of consideration. They were right on budget, Karl said, but receipts of the revenues collected, from the state, were slipping behind expectations. Ralph had explained to the board members that the state was feeling a pinch from a slowdown in the national economy. He had been hearing this from his banking circles, and said he expected it to get worse before it began to get better. It was a financial cycle in which everyone should expect lower prices for their crops, but not to expect lower costs for their purchases.

Karl said they also talked about the drop in high school enrollment. This was due to the two Gower children moving out of town and the death of Jimmie Truesdale. The classes coming up were a bit larger, so it was not a serious problem, just a concern. For example, the Senior Class this year consisted of just three young ladies: Stefanie Street, Carol Cunningham, and Martha Bishop. So far, there had been no new students coming into the high school.

After their chat, Katherine picked up the newspapers to bring her ‘newborns’ list up to date. Peter and Jane Riley had a boy they named Michael in May. Trey and Rebecca Parks had a girl, early in July. They named her Inez after Rebecca’s mother. Ralph and Inez Cornelius were said to be every bit as excited about the new baby as the proud parents, Russell Nixon had reported in the paper, Katherine noted.

They discussed electric lamps in New York City

Edison Electric Lamp, January 1880
Edison Electric Lamp, January 1880

Following the next School Board Meeting

Coming home from the next School Board meeting, Karl again shared some of the information he had learned. Superintendant Quinton Chambers had budgeted for a custodian for the school buildings, but had been unable to identify a qualified person. Since the prior board meeting, he had located such a person and hired him. His name was Edwin Bevins. Edwin had a wife named Esther, and they had a 14-year-old son, Howard, who was now in the freshman class at the high school, a nice addition. Karl said he understood that the Bevins family was renting one of the Wingfield/Cox houses in Block A, west of Centennial Square. Chambers had said Edwin Bevins came highly recommended by people that he knew and trusted. Since Bevins would sometimes be working in the school buildings when no one else was around, the superintendant had to be sure he had hired a highly reliable person. He was sure that he had.

Karl further added that all members of the teaching staff were the same from the prior year, except for the one elementary position where Dora Garrett had replaced Irene Cunningham. Chambers had expressed complete confidence in the full staff now on board with the school district. They would be looking forward to the Open House presentations later in October.

Katherine shared with Karl a story in the weekly newspaper, the national news section, that she found especially interesting. It told of the new Pearl Street Station, in Manhattan, in New York City, which was generating electricity to power an initial load of 400 lamps located at 82 customers in a nearby area. The ‘power station’ had one direct current generator, fired by coal that created the electric current for the lamps. Katherine and Karl had read about the ‘electric light lamp’ that Thomas Edison was said to have invented, but this was the first real application they had read about.

October brought school open house

October means pumpkins
October means pumpkins

October Open House at the Public School Buildings

Karl and Katherine arrived at the Open House at the Patton Elementary School early so they would be able to see as much as possible and still have plenty of time to visit the high school presentations as well. Ellis Prince was Principal as well as teaching the 7th and 8th grade classes. Karla King, now in the 6th grade, was in her last year under Nellie Truesdale, teaching the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Karl and Katherine were very pleased with the work Karla’s class had put together for them to see. It was hard for them to believe that their youngest was now in the 6th grade. Dora Garrett had her 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders well prepared for their first open house under her guidance. She knew some larger classes would follow, but it was still a bit of shock to Katherine that the 1st and 2nd grades only had two students each. 5th and 8th grades were the largest with 7 each.

At the high school, Quinton Chambers, Flo Fields, Andrew Gilmore and Leroy Ring were each homeroom teachers for one of the four classes, as had been the custom for a few years now. Kent, as a junior, was now part of the largest high school class this year, even with the loss of Jimmie Truesdale. There were four boys and two girls: Kent, neighbor Junior Yokum, Carl Die, David Wingfield, Janice Carver and Rachel Stark. Karl and Katherine spent a little extra time with this group, of course, as they knew each of the students well and enjoyed seeing their growth from year to year.

Karl and Katherine got to meet the new freshman class member, Howard Bevins, as well as his parents, Edwin and Esther, for the first time, as well. This was also the class of neighbor Donald Dent, as well as Myrtle Truesdale, Martha Reeves and Nettie Gifford. Neighbor Lillie Rhodes was in the Sophomore Class along with Amenah Williams, Reuben Stair, Alfred Garrett and Cora Crane. This made a total of 19 in the high school this year.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Small town, Middle West, it will likely be 20 years or more. Diffusion of innovations was fairly slow, back then... Thanks for the visit and comment! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I wonder how soon Oak Springs will try to bring electricity to the town. It must have been quite a marvel to learn of the new alternative source of light.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you! I know each of them very well, like friends... oh, that's right, they are my best friends!! ... and neighbors, it seems! ;-)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      It's amazing to me how you keep all the characters straight.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Larry. I've I'd lived back then, I can only imagine myself as a teacher... I appreciate each of your visits and comments! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      As a former teacher, it is fascinating to me how different a day of school was way back when.

      Wonderful read.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your comments. I did attend one-room school through 7th grade. In my Mom's diary (that I'm slowly transcribing), for 1941, they are wiring the farmhouse, for the first time. The electric power lines are yet to arrive. Yes, the changes have been drastic, in 76 years, and 133 years... ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm picturing myself riding a horse to a one-room school house....I would have loved doing that. So many changes right around the corner for your characters....the horse is about to be replaced...inventions are being made by the thousands, some of which will drastically change lives....it's all there in your stories.