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Girlhood Days of Rosa Wilson
By Ruby Steele
Submitted by Jeannie Owens

Rosa Wilson Steele, my mother-in-law, tells us of some of her early school days.  She thinks it must have been 1889 when she started school at Cedar Bluff.  The teacher at the time was Mrs. Sarah J. Bilderback.

Rosa lived on the farm just below the school, which is now owned by John Asher.  She and her brothers and sisters were born on the farm.  Her mother and father and two little sisters are buried in the old cemetery on the farm.

She tells that the school at that time was built of logs, and was on the site of the old ball diamond.  There was a rail fence between the Wilson farm (now the John Asher farm) and the school.  She reports the seats were made of split logs, with the split side up to sit on.  They drilled holes in the ends of the logs and fastened them to post, which made the legs of the benches.  They had no desk, and held their books on their laps to study.

They played the games, which have been favorites with children for many years, such as London Bridge, blind man’s bluff, drop the handkerchief, etc.  The boys and girls played on opposite sides of the grounds.

Rosa recalls that in 1891, when Thomas Howard was teacher, “little Jim Asher was called upon to recite a piece.  This piece she said he gave----

Lord of love, look down from above,
On us poor scholars,
We hired a fool to teach our school,
And gave him forty dollars.

She doesn’t recall what happened, but I can imagine it made a hit with the kids, if not with the teacher.  I rather imagine the teacher didn’t call on “little jim” for any more recitations in the near future.

Another incident Rosa recalls from the early days is quite amusing now, but probably not so amusing to the teacher at that time.  Rosa can’t remember his name.  Some of the older boys locked the teacher in the wood shed and kept him there for quite some time.  At another time, during the same school year, these boys persuaded the teacher to go for a boat ride with them, telling him they would be back before school took up.  It was late afternoon before they brought him back.  In the meantime, the children had arrived at school, and in the absence of the teacher, a good time was had by all.  She isn’t sure who the boys were, but thinks Harry Summers, Frank Henson, and Asbury Wilson were among the group.

Another little incident she recalls, which I found quite amusing, was when Otis Asher asked to be excused to go to the bathroom, which was outside, and Mollie Wilson blocked the door so he couldn’t get out.  He was quite perturbed as he was in a hurry.  “Darn it, Molly, get out of my way, I’ve got to get out of hear and to that bathroom,” he told her.  These aren’t the exact words he used, but Molly moved and the pupils roared with laughter.

She recalls that Absalom and Hannah Blythe, her grandparents, and Absalom (better known as bud) Blythe’s parents lived in a little house the road from the school.  Hannah was blind.  The Blythe’s had three slaves, a colored woman and her two sons.  The old woman slave died and is buried beneath the rock pile in the cemetery on John Asher’s farm.  The boys were given their freedom and went to Springfield to find work.  Absalom and Hannah are also buried in this cemetery.

Bud Blythe and his wife, Hattie, (better known as aunt Hat) lived in the little house in later years.  Hattie always went bare-foot, both winter and summer. Everybody loved Aunt Hat.

Rosa recalls this scene from her early days as a young girl.  Two boys, she doesn’t remember their names, but recalls they were kinda’ rough, asked to take Rosa and her sister Julia to a dance at the old Kerr place.  Her father, Bolin Wilson, wouldn’t let them go.  Later, two other boys asked to take them to the dance.  He let the girls go with these boys, but made them take a light, as they had to follow a trail around the bluff to get there.  They carried a lamp with them, but needless to say, it was never lighted.

Those were the good old days, of which we hear so much.  Were they very different from the days which, in a few more years, will be our own “good old days:”?