Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
October 5, 1950
* CAL'S COLUMN *
This is Monday, September 25, 1950. Exactly 39 years ago this morning Cal began teaching at Beech Bottom , five miles south of Lafayette. The school was then and still is known as Old Bottom. Thirty nine years ago yesterday, which was on Sunday as it was this time, we bought our first buggy, even though it was on Sunday. We bought this outfit from T. T. (Taylor) Gregory, for many years an implement dealer at Dixon Springs. He sold farm implements, buggies, carriages, wire fencing and many many other items needed on farms in the long gone yers. So on that Sunday morning we had to have some sort of conveyance to get to our school at Old Bottom. Borrowing a buggy was a possibility, but Cal had decided he wanted one of his own. So he went down to Taylor Gregory's on Sunday morning, September 24, 1911, and bought a new, rubber-tired, auto-seat buggy, for $125.00. We may some day have a means of conveyance that will give us a greater thrill than that buggy did, but we have not yet found it. We have owned several cars, but not one of them gave us the "kick" of that buggy 39 years ago. We hitched old "Ned" to that buggy and drove down the road. Although he had not been worked to a buggy before and even tried to pace to the buggy at first, it wasn't long until he had learned to go down the road in a long trot, with his hind feet far apart and "licking up" the miles. Even till today we remembered how noiselessly that buggy moved over the very poor roads of 40 years ago or more. Only the hoofbeats of the horse and the "squeaking" of the harness were to be heard and they made "heavenly music" to a youth of 20 years. O how sweet life seemed and how far off the "evil day" appeared. Old age was not even remotely considered as we rode through the sunlight of life's early morning. We suffered no foreboding of any coming burdens, of any worries, or of anything but happiness, contentment and the fullest of the joys that life offers to the young who are strong in body, active in mind, and who disdained to even think of anything else in the future. We were then swift on foot, having never been beaten in a race with perhaps two exceptions. We were strong in body with never, an ache and "nary a pain." We think we may be pardoned for saying we had a good memory and a zeal for reading that has not vanished with the years, although old man memory is going back on Cal at a rather fast rate. We loved teaching and delighted in being with children. We had then taught two successful schools, the first at Dean Hill, in the extreme northeast corner of Smith County, and the other at Mace's Hill, near which place we "discovered America" on Wednesday morning, July 8, 1891, about the time the sun rose. So we began teaching at nineteen years of age and on a salary of $40.00 per month, with a school term of four month the first year. Our board cost us $8.00 per month; and, out of that four-months' school term, we saved $100, the first money we ever did save, and in one way perhaps the last. Since that time we have had to strive to make "buckle and tongue meet."
So our third school was to be at Beech Bottom, so named for the old beeches that once grew in the bottom fields along Dry Fork Creek in that particular section. We left home in the Mace's Hill section one summer morning to "hunt" for a school. We heard that Ebenezer school had no teacher. We journeyed to that community, but somehow did not do any good. Next we heard that the school at Old Bottom had not "been let," and that on opening was to be found there. We had in our pocket a fine recommendation from our old teacher, Prof. George W. Goad , and felt that we could not "be denied a school." Later the same day we hunted up the school directors, one of whom was Charlie Burrow, at present a citizen of the Meadorville section. He lived then where he now resides. We went to his home to be told that he was at work high up on the hill southwest of his residence. We climbed that hill and found him at work in his tobacco patch. This was dark tobacco and we had helped to make many a crop of the weed. We somehow had at that time "quite a bit of tongue," a thing we still have, and soon engaged Mr. Burrow in conversation and later asked for the school. In conjunction with the *other directors. Cal was given the right to teach school at Beech Bottom for three months at the salary of $35.00 per month.
We were not rushed for time 39 years ago and had the opportunity of doing our work as we wanted to, leisurely and without being rushed to death as we are today. So we came back to the Old Bottom section in a few days and visited every home in which there were children of school age in that section. We thus got acquainted with the fathers and mothers and their children. We spent more than two days in visiting among our students to be. We recall that we spent the first night in the home of Charlie Cox, who lived then in the hollow above where Bob Ballou now lives. We also recall that we spent the second night in the home of William Mitchell-Gammon, a soldier of the Union Army during the Civil War and one who enjoyed talking. He lived then in a nice country home about one-fourth of a mile down where the Dark Hollow stream joins the stream coming down form the Billy McDonald section. He received a nice pension and was well off and taking life as it came. We were well entertained in the home, his wife at that time being active and able to look after the affairs of the home. One thing is vividly recalled, the loud, piercing calls of peafowls, which awoke us early the next morning.
A short time before we arrived at the Gammon home, we had visited another home in that section, that of Mr. and Mr. Duncan Gammon, Mr. Gammon being the only son of W. M. Gammon. In the Duncan Gammon home, we met for the first time that August day, his daughter, Mae, who was then 18 years of age. Later she was to become the wife of the writer. However, it was not love at first sight. She was a pleasant-faced, red-cheeked young girl, rather tall and slender, and somewhat bashful in the presence of the new teacher. Like young people in every age of the world, we did not have a hard time of getting acquainted. She attended the school for a month and we had not one intention of seeking to keep her company we certainly did not do "any courting" what ever. After she had to give up school the writer began to keep her company and late in February following we were married, with the late Squire Dock Gregory performing the ceremony.
But to resume our account of the school. So on the morning of September 25, 1911, we left the home of Brother J. B. Mathis, a mile down the creek below the school, where we had secured board for eight dollars per month, and hurried to school. By eight o'clock opening morning , there were 67 boys and girls present, ranging in age from six year to 18. Never had we before had so many students all for one teacher. Although we had seen practically all of them a short time before in their homes, we were unable to call the name of scarcely one of them. So we finally had to "label" all the smaller children, pinning on their sleeves their names. By this means we were able to call their name in a very short time.
(To be continued)
*It is evident that in the article a typographical error occurred.
This has been corrected for clarity.