A Favorite Texas Memory
The Texas Story Project.
In the 1930s and '40s, Cottle County had more than thirty country schools. I was lucky enough to attend one of them—Delwin—in the community in which my family farmed. Delwin's yellow brick building was a modern one in those days, with a long wooden-floored hallway down the middle and double doors at both west and east ends. I can still see dust mites filling the sunbeams lending warm light to the otherwise fairly dark passageway. A ceramic drinking fountain stood smack in the middle, providing water from a cistern that was, of course, not refrigerated. Three classrooms and a washroom filled the south side, and one classroom, an auditorium, and the kitchen/lunch room filled the north.
Schoolrooms held fold-up desks for the older students and long tables and little chairs for the little ones, as well as the teacher’s desk, a big black pot-bellied stove, and coal-box. One wall featured big windows and two others held blackboards where the students did math and spelling work. Each week, every kid in the room, which held two or three grades, lined up against the wall for a spelling bee. My love of words and spelling developed from those spelling bees, which stood me in good stead later in my fifty years as a newspaper editor.
At the back of each room was a cloakroom where coats, sack lunches, and supplies were stored. Our library, or book room, was a converted cloakroom and held very few books—mostly used school books. The wash room was just that, a place to wash our hands before lunch. The outdoor toilets were two wooden two-holers at the back of the schoolyard, separated by a wide expanse of yard and the coal-shed.
Recess and the end of the school day were heralded by the sound of a big, hand-held brass bell, rung vigorously by a chosen student. As we country kids burst from the building onto the playground, impromptu games of softball were organized. Recesses were long, as was the play-period after lunch. Lunch (or dinner as we called it) in the big lunchroom always consisted—to the best of my memory—of pinto beans, 'taters, and cornbread muffins. Purple plum cobbler or bread pudding completed the meal.
Walking the two miles home from school, instead of riding the long bus route, was a joy and not a chore. A long shelterbelt (installed by the CCC—a land conservation work program developed by President Roosevelt after the Depression) lent shade to the road, and shelter to hawks and other birds, small animals, snakes, and insects. Sauntering along, talking, and laughing with a few other kids who lived nearby, was a fun and relaxing time. Those days in that slower-paced, easy time are a favorite memory of growing up in Texas.
Jimmye Taylor is a native of Cottle County who spent 51 years as editor and 23 years as publisher and owner of the Paducah Post.
Posted August 01, 2014