My Forty Years Scribblin's
Personal Memories
Yes It Was Cold!

This account was written in 1995 and published in the Winter, 1996 issue of The Charity Peak Outlook. The little Evaro school is remembered for what it lacked… heat!

Evaro's first bona-fide school house was a frame building located to the right and behind the present café and gift shop. It had few windows and was well smoked up from the pot bellied stove that stood in one corner. It ended its years of usefulness as a barn for Ollie Johnson's horses. Being somewhat smaller than the present building it was also warmer, and since there were only ten or twelve of us we could huddle around the busy little stove when the mercury hit bottom.

In 1915 I started school in Evaro. Winter recreation was a game of "Fox and Geese," or making angels in the snow. Privileged characters got to ring the teacher's hand bell now and then—until we got to squabbling over whose turn it was, then the teacher took over to settle the arguments. A swing hung from a tall pine tree that stood in the former school yard, and in spring and fall there was a teeter-totter. I believe the tree is still standing there, perhaps wondering what happened to the squealing kids that waited for a turn at the board seat and the rope that was fastened to one of its limbs.

About three years later a teacher sponsored a basket social to buy a Victrola and a few records so we could have music in the school. She almost got fired for letting us dance at recess and noon hour!

In 1919 or '20, the bright new school house became a small wonder. It had lots of windows, two cloak rooms, two pictures and a clock on the wall! Someone sold the school board a new fangled stove with a huge drum that was supposed to circulate heat through the top and bottom. Thank goodness it sat out toward the middle of the room so we could sit around it with our feet on the bottom rim trying to keep them from turning to ice while our lunches froze in the cloak rooms.

Someone furnished us with a load of wet wood and the poor teacher had a terrible time getting any heat out of it. And some people thought the school board went over board in paying her an extra five dollars a month for being her own janitor! A few times she told us that if we would bring some milk from home she would make cocoa for our lunch. That was a taste of pure heaven.

Just getting to school took some doing. Sometimes my uncle, Bill Mackie, would have to walk ahead to break trail for us. If there wasn't enough money to buy overshoes he would cut strips from gunny sacks to wrap our feet in. The strips came loose before we'd gone very far and a blind man could have tracked us by the burlap trail we left in the snow.

There was no school bus, play school, preschool, head start or kindergarten. Our school day was books, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Get your lessons—or else! But we got the basics in readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, with an emphasis on spelling, and a generous dose of history and geography thrown in. After a day of hurting feet and hands too numb to hold a pencil we were ready to head home to our own little homes where supper was bubbling on the stove and the kitchen smelled of fresh baked bread and even the yellow light from the kerosene lamp seemed warm. Precious hours of respite those were, before the morning brought back the struggle to grow up and the battle of book learnin'. But I still have a soft spot for the little old Evaro school.