Being a rural school teacher in the thirties wasn't easy; but since we did not know the conveniences that schools have now, we were happy to do our duty as best we knew.
For instance, imagine the feeling of walking into a cold, drafty school - room on a Monday morning with the temperature around 10 degrees below outside and the floor cracking as you walked. Sometimes the fire wouldn't start easily, even with lots of kerosene (coal oil) on the kindling. The coal put out a black smoke in the room every time the stove door was opened, even with the damper adjusted. By noon the room was warm enough to eat our dinners while sitting at the desks. Sometimes the lunches were frozen and had to be thawed before eating.
Once a week, I always had one hot lunch cooked in the schoolroom. I can remember only one schoolroom that had a two-burner kerosene stove on which to prepare meals; otherwise it was prepared in a large kettle on top of the huge heater. I always had to stand on a stool to stir the vegetable soup, which consisted of vegetables the pupils brought and meat or a soup bone I bought at the local butcher shop. It was always delicious and wholesome.
My most memorable meal was while teaching my third term at Blackmore School, District 66, about three and one half miles north of Sharon. Martin Landwehr, Otis Garrett, and Mrs. Max Rowe were the school board members. In order to get my monthly pay check, two members signed a voucher, which the teacher presented to the board treasurer, who in turn issued the check, which ranged from sixty to eighty dollars a month.
After finishing my janitor work one winter evening at the end of the month, I proceeded to make the calls to obtain my check. By the time I had called on the first two board members, it was getting dark. When I chugged into Martin Landwehr's (the third board member and treasurer) in my Model-T Ford, it was supper-time. Four of his children - Francis, Raymond, Martin Jr., and Mildred - were my pupils. The family and hired man (Clint Hall) were seated around a long dining table covered with a pretty oilcloth cover and loaded with all sorts of country food. They insisted I eat supper with them. Since I hadn't eaten a drop of food since my cold lunch at noon, you can imagine how hungry I was.
It was a Friday evening meal, so this Catholic family didn't have meat, but there was a huge bowl of boiled eggs, homemade bread, fresh churned butter, james, jellies, two or three homegrown vegetables, potatoes, cookies, and pie. As they passed the food to me, I became confused that I am sure they thought I had a bird-like appetite. Everything was delicious. You may be sure it was really dark when I started home. I can't remember what my mother said when I told her I had already eaten my supper. It was truly a memorable meal to me, but probably an ordinary evening meal to that hospitable family.
Besides the Blackmore School, I taught in the Unity, North Star, and Hillside districts.
Daryl Schiff, son of Kenneth Lawrence & Maxine Phyllis (Martin) Schiff.
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