This past week I shared my self-published transcription of the book, Childhood Memories …Growing up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. It was suggested that I share a few more of my father-in-law’s stories from the 1930s. From time to time I will publish some of his stories that I think you might enjoy. Here are a couple more for you to enjoy.
My First Day at School
For many months I looked forward to going to school. My Aunt Lydia who came to stay with us after my mother died found a Grade one reader somewhere and taught me to read 2 or 3 pages. I could say the alphabet and print my name.
The school I would attend was called Wood Corner School, but it was not in a woods. It was beside a gravel road seven eighths of a mile from our house and next to a large barn with a manure pile beside the fence.
The playground was three sided and rather small. The school building was of brick with a slate roof and a bell tower. It had a big front porch and two cloak rooms and a dingy basement. It had double desks, a big black heater, a piano, and oiled boards on the floor which were worn and splintery some places. My first teacher was a young lady named Esther Markley who went to the Brethren Church and wore a covering.
Well, the first day finally came. It was the last Monday in August in 1933. I was ready on time and began walking along the highway with my new lunch kettle. as we called it. Nearly right away our old retired neighbor, Sam Nissley, came by and offered me a ride. I got into the car and a quarter of a mile up the road, I remembered that I did not have my reader, so he turned around and brought me home, but my aunt said, “No, you don’t need that book.” So Sam drove me to school.
Something I had never done in my life was ride a teeter-totter. We called them see-saws. And, all four of them were occupied by the other excited children. No decent person called us “kids” in those days. Soon the high see-saw became vacant and I climbed on. Some boy jumped on the other end and up I flew and immediately I slid down to the middle in a split second. I slid down to the middle because I didn’t hold on. What a surprise and an embarrassment.
Then the bell rang and everyone rushed to line up at the door, and then to their seats. The teacher sat at the piano and asked what number we should sing. My little hand shot up and I called out, one hundred forty-four. She said, “No, we don’t have that many songs in our book. Surprise again. I assumed they had the Church and Sunday School Hymnal just like we did at Indiantown Church. The song I wanted to sing was special to me because they sang it at my Mother’s funeral just four months before. It was, “I’m Going Home to Die No More.”
There were ten pupils in grade one and a few could only speak Pennsylvania Dutch. They had a hard time but I didn’t. I liked school and it was special to me. I think there were forty or forty-four pupils in the eight grades that year.
Dr. Fake was our Doctor
I think his name was Warren Fake. Some people liked him and some thought he was a fake doctor, but he was handy. He made lots of house calls, as was common then.
As a child I had asthma and hay fever. It always grew worse in mid-summer, and lasted until the end of fall. There were no medications. Someone recommended to my parents that they give me Swiss Tea to drink. So sometimes they gave me tea when I went to bed, but it never made a bit of difference, so eventually we dropped that idea.
The doctor discovered I had enlarged adenoids. So, Dr. Fake recommended that I have my tonsils and adenoids removed before I began grade one. He would do it in his office. In those days it was popular for most doctors to operate on small children in this way.
Father and Aunt Lydia took me to Dr. Fake’s office early one morning. I remember going back into a back room and they put me onto a high table. They put a thing over my nose and mouth and told me to start counting as they pumped in the ether. When I woke up I was in a dark room with my Aunt. I had a very sore throat.
All this was done, but I had no relief from my asthma. During grades one through three, I was quarantined at least three times. But so were most families in our school, and throughout the state. Neither I, nor any of my brothers and sisters were allowed to leave the house, to attend school or church, or any public gathering, during a quarantine.
First, I got chicken pox. I stayed in bed about five days, but I think I had to miss ten days of school.
The next year, it was measles, and I missed another ten days. When David had the measles, he became deathly sick, and my parents were alarmed.
The following year, I came down with scarlet fever and I was very sick. It seemed as though I was in bed for three weeks. I lost weight and felt weak when I stood up.
My parents told me that when I was a small child, I had the whooping cough and the mumps, but I cannot remember.
Antibiotics today are a real blessing to the parents of this generation, but most people do not realize it.
Photo from the family album
All stories are (c) copywrited and require permission to reproduce parts or all of
them. They may be reblogged on your wordpress site if you desire.
Dwight L. Roth