Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Room to grow

This post is a pledge to myself to spend some time soon researching and photographing one-room school-houses (as they used to be called when my grandparents spoke of them). I guess now they'd be school-factories? My brother would call this 'putting a stake in the ground'.

Last Sunday, after a community church hall celebration for an uncle's 90th birthday, I asked LOML to take me to school - to the one-room schoolhouse in North Marysburgh township where I completed my first eight grades of schooling, with the same teacher, the stoutly dedicated Miss Eaton. Eight grades, 20-some kids of all ages and abilities, one rubber-booted, nylon-frocked iron-willed woman. I took these photos of my little school-house, S.S.#3 , in rain mixed with snow, shuddering in the cutting wind.

(Phil Norton did a fine photo of the school, good lighting, professional equipment. I keep meaning to get a copy.)

But my photo has a sound-track - of the teacher's voice intoning "Good morning, boys and girls, quietly, seats" each morning of those many years, of her long wild stories about divine retribution after morning Bible reading, of her enjoinder to me to take my little brother to the porch to impress upon him the importance of his math test....and hundreds and thousands of other moments, images, feelings, smells (one-room schoolhouses were great for smells), and activities - making dens in the wild plum grove, discovering wild-flowers on arbour day under Keller's hill, marvelling over the exotic poppies in the flower bed...

The consolation of great age, they say, is the tendency to slip back in time - and stay there. I shall welcome those days if only I am able to travel back to the simple times at my little school - one room, very small, crowded with all ages and a jumble of activities - but somehow, plenty of room to grow.

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