One Room Schoolhouse-Hemingford, Nebraska

My father owned a small farm in northwestern Nebraska near the town of Hemingford. Our family lived and worked the place for about four years and during that time I attended a small rural school from first thru fourth grades. The school consisted of one teacher and 14 children (grades first thru sixth) ¬†from the surrounding farms. During the four years of attendance I was the only child in my grade until we moved away. The school grounds had a windmill and a hand pump for the well. It was the older children’s task to get water and fill the large ceramic dispenser for the days drinking water. An outhouse was the only bathroom facilities and once again it was up to one of the students to clean the facility daily. The one room building was heated by a coal burning pot belly stove located at the rear of the room between two large chalkboards. I remember that each subject lesson was taught to each grade (even though some grades only had one child), with the younger students first. It was expected that the older students would assist and tutor the younger ones as needed until their turn was announced for their lesson. Music education consisted of the students singing around an old piano with the teacher playing and singing. Physical education was conducted outside when the weather was good which was usually tag or baseball. Fire evacuation training was having the older students crawl out the window and assist each child through the open window. We always had a Christmas play that was performed for the parents which was a big production for all of us. Every couple of months some of the children stayed after the days classes and would help move all the desks to one side of the room. The teacher would sprinkle a waxy reddish brown sawdust on the floor and we would skate across the room. The slick sawdust sliding under our shoes as it waxed the schools wood floors. Children doing a needed task that became pure fun. I never remember any discipline problems with any of the students. I look back and feel that I received an excellent education. I would move many times until junior high school and attend several large city schools. I never felt educationally disadvantaged though at times overwhelmed by the number and what I felt as the craziness of city kids. As an adult I drove by the old school house twice over the years. The first time the building still stood, alone in a wheat field. The tree, outbuilding and windmill were gone. I walked inside and was amazed how small it was. It seemed such a large place as a child. The second time I visited all trace of the school was gone as if the laughter and faces of my fellow students and Mrs. Kingery was just a dream.