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Friday, July 6, 2012

Reminicing The Vaughn Heritage 5


Looking Towards Heaven (Pictured above is a well-loved man, named Dad and Grandpa.)


**Note** This is the fifth of 6 articles that were written by my maternal Grandfather, Alfred Tennyson Vaughn before his death July 25, 1999. I didn't know they existed, until I did some family searching on the net and they came up. They were published in 2000 after his death. Needless to say, since I didn't know these were out there, I was in tears when I saw them. They are a cherished gift from Grandpa, who was a wonderful writer and poet! We love and miss you Grandpa!

REMINISCING
The Vaughn Heritage
by
Alfred Tennyson Vaughn


Editor's note: This week, in the fifth installment of The Vaughn Heritage, we read about the Vaughn School, school discipline and school pranks and games played by the students.


The Vaughn School


Ours was a one-room school. That is, the front entrance was used to store our coats and lunch buckets. In the main room, the teacher's desk, blackboards and a long bench were at the front of the room.
There were two rows of double seats at which lower grades studied. The upper grades were seated by rows in adjacent grades, in single seats. (Students who needed watching usually sat up front.)
At the back were bookcases for the school library. A map case hung above from which desired maps could be pulled down like window blinds. Also in the back was the old Seth Thomas clock with Roman numerals that had to be wound periodically. Lastly, a stove with pipe up to a chimney sat in the back center of the room.
The teacher made a schedule of classes and subjects for students whom she called to sit on the bench by the teacher's desk. A small push-button bell on the desk was used to call out the class periods and to ring for recesses and assembly.
A hand bell was used to call the children into the school at the beginning of each school period.
Last, but not least, was a sturdy ruler or yardstick which served a double purpose. It was used to teach measurements, and for the discipline of unruly and disobedient students. When a student was disciplined at school, they usually got equal time and treatment when they got home.
However, even the consistent rule of discipline was tested at times by some who figured out ways to tease or thwart the teacher.
Usually, one year was all a new teacher could take in a small country school. Either they married one of the local Romeos, or they transferred to another school to look over a new field.
I remember only two teachers who stayed two years or more, and they were both already married; and we considered them the best teachers. Perhaps their experience gave them an advantage over the "smart kids," for it was not long until everything was under control.
There were some tricks that were tried on every new teacher by the "Upper Classmen." One was the secretive placement of rubber bands on the heater when it first got warmed up in fall.
The other took place in spring when wild flowers came into bloom. One brilliantly red flower was appealing to the eye, but when left in a glass to warm in the sun, would radiate pungently rank perfume.
It would take some teachers longer to locate the source of this disagreeable odor because of the deceivingly beautiful blossoms. It was called Skunk Weed for an obvious reason.
Of course the usual tacks appeared on seats of unsuspecting students; spit wads from rubber bands stung the neck of dozing pupils; and notes got passed across the room, sometimes not successfully.
The punishment most often fitted the crime.
The cure for note writing was to have the pupil stand up and read it to the whole room. Love notes were especially interesting and embarrassing. The worst notes usually got the silent treatment with a note from the teacher sent home to parents by a brother or sister.
Two traditions were kept over the years to help the kids get past their spring fever. One was an outing where we competed making lists and gathering samples of wildflowers.
The other took place on a Friday afternoon near the end of the school term.
Three or four older students were chosen to be foxes who would be given a head start out over the hills to an unknown destination. They were to leave trails of paper strips for the "Hounds" who would try to catch up with the foxes. We took lunches along to share at the end of the chase.
Noontime was for a variety of activities by students who teamed up for baseball and other games.
Groups of three to five pupils would create "playhouses" under sheltering evergreens, and become "families," choosing the roles and names they would assume.
The ringing of the handbell five minutes before class time would call everyone back in for the next session of school. Often the teacher would choose a pupil to ring the bell.
Teachers usually supervised games and some even participated, sharing bruises and even broken fingers from catching baseballs without gloves.
Dorothy Harmon was one who enjoyed playing games with the pupils. I didn't know if there was any connection, but, she was my favorite teacher. She promoted me from first into the third grade and later became my sister-in-law.

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