May at a One Room Country School

Most years by mid-May grass was growing in the yard of Happy Corners School at the juncture of two gravel town roads.   In a corner of the one – acre plot carved out of Ed Jansen’s field where the snow water drained dandelions bloomed aplenty.  Dandelions were not regarded as a nuisance yet.  They could be used for making yellow tinged cheeks, good for fresh dandelions greens and creating extended chains.

May brought the opportunity to hop on our bikes in afternoon to ride to the Pipe Lake school, or Horseshoe Lake or the Comstock for a softball game.  We were no match for Pipe Lake which had two rooms against our single room school with never more than 15 kids in the eight grades.  Some years the community had not been fruitful and multiplied.  So, there may have been a vacant grade or two for the next eight years.

There came the day when the teacher told us to bring our rakes tomorrow.  That day we raked the full acre of the dead grass and leaves.  Soon, as the afternoon wore on what began as a venture and no class became a labor as our raking muscles tired.  But clean- up day was a prelude to the big picnic at the close of school.

The community had not come together since the Christmas program in December.  Now everyone was there, Bower’s, Catlin’s, Strenke’s, Olson’s, Wangzong’s Richard’s, Kolstad’s, Becker’s, Van Houten’s and Jansen’s.  We all had plenty to eat at this bountiful spring picnic.  And there was ice cream.  Ice cream was a rare treat and we made the most of it.  We “big boys,” all of 12 or 13 years of age, grabbed large coffee mugs and returned again and again until we were fair unto bursting, regretting that we could not eat one more bite.

 Then we got our report cards.  There was always a moment of hesitation.  Did I make it to the next grade?  With the good news of promotion, we were glad the school year was over.  However, personally, after a summer of hoeing and picking beans and haying in the years before we had a baler, I was ready for some vacation, which began with the new school year.

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