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Chelsea Kansas School Playtime 1930

Story ID:6594
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Hemet CA. USA
Person:Chel Kansas Kid
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Chelsea School 1930's

Tetter-Totter we had two. Several times when the student population dwindled down to two, Melda and I did not need but one teeter-totter. The old boards had splinters and when you jumped off, once in a while you had to visit the teacher and her needle.

We had marbles. I was never too a good a shooter and usually lost all my marbles, holds true today.

In about my third year, of school, some men came and put in a swing set. There were three swings. We took turns swinging when there were four or more kids. Once when running for a swing, Manual fell and and hit his cheekbone on the wooden seat and cut his cheek wide open. He bled and bled. The teacher finally got it stopped and I was elected to go home with him, In case he started bleeding again I could get him help. He knew a small amount of English and I was to be his interpreter if we had to stop at some farmhouse on the way to his home. I felt very important being entrusted with his life, I thought, and walked the mile to his home and the mile back.

Our teacher bought a softball and bat and a couple gloves and we played a brand new game. She read the rules and we played by the book. If you hit the ball hard enough it would get lost in the weeds and while they were looking for it you could go home. Our schoolyard was not grassy, when the wind blew hard you couldn't go outside the the schoolhouse to play because the dust would fill your eyes.

We played hide and seek, outside the schoolroom. We had the coal house and two outside privies, and a big Elm tree to hide behind. Some times when the coal house ran low on coal, it made a good hiding place because it was so dark inside.

On bad days we would have spelling contests. We would choose up sides and the starter would spell a word and you had to take the last letter of that word and spell a word starting with

that letter. I usually got tax, Fox or ox and I could only spell one word that started with an x. After that I was eliminated.

In the wintertime, we would play Fox and Geese in the snow. With all the big boys I usually ended up being the goose, Oh-Well. I wasn't very coordinated as a youngster and I never seemed to get any better.

My Dad had a field next to the schoolhouse. When it would rain and freeze we would take our sleds to the North end of the field. We made sails with a broom handle and a chicken feed sack and the wind would blow us
to the South end by the schoolhouse.

There were no darts, horseshoes or anything fun.

Of course we had musical desks. The teacher would wind up that old Victrola and put on a record and we would march around the desks.
Never was too good at that either, especially when there was only two of us in school.

Sometimes there would be twenty girls and boys in school and that made it more fun. Some of the older girls would read to us during a bad dust storm. We would go outside, and it seemed to be less dust than inside.
The old schoolhouse had cracks in the windows and around the sills and the dust would come in by the buckets full and swirl around inside the room.

We played a lot of tag. I was pretty fast and could win, until some older boys or girls moved in. I was usually it most of the time. The older ones could protect the younger ones and I was left out to dry, story of my life-O Woe is Me.
We played Andy Over-throwing the ball over the schoolhouse and if the one on the other side did not catch it he was out.

Most of the time the teacher supervised the games. We had one teacher that supervised, among other things, one of the eighth grade boys.
They held hands and all that sissy stuff.

We made up our own games when she was inside. We had a cable that run through holes in the posts that fenced in the schoolyard dirt. If you had a pal you could walk the cable between the posts, you didn't dare slip and straddle the cable because it was to embarrassing to discuss with the teacher (a woman) while you were screaming your head off.

There was an old barn to the west of the of the swings, across the fence and it was off limits. One day two older boys enticed another young kid and me into the barn. They tied us up and told us that if we yelled they would stomp us. I heard the bell to come in after lunch hour, and I couldn't get loose. I was crying because I knew I was going to be late. The teacher had seen the two older boys take us into the barn and she told them to let us go. After they untied us and we were inside I could hear the willow switch striking the boys bottoms. When they canne into the classroom they had been crying I laughed to myself. Gee I felt a lot better.

I captured a garter snake, non poisonous, and was chasing the other kids with it. I headed for Georgiana and she started screaming and she wouldn't quit. The teacher came out and it took several minutes to quiet her down. She was hysterical, I didn't know she was deathly afraid of snakes. My punishment was dusting the blackboard erasers for a week, after everyone else had gone home. This made my chores at home later and cut down on my playtime and I never did that again.

I see the playgrounds of today and wonder what it would have been like to have nicely mowed grass, basketball hoops, bats, and balls to have to play with in the thirties.

Goes to show, kids will play whether they have fine toys or nothing but dirt. Imaginations are great and they were put to good use on the playground.

With only the dirt schoolyard, one tree, three swings, teeter totter, and a coal house we survived and had fun. For eight years, my gosh you say, it must have been boring, we did not sit round feeling sorry for ourselves.

We had some great teachers. Their job was to teach, administer first aid, mediate the foolish arguments, mete out the punishment and keep us from being bored.

For thirty dollar a month, and room and board at some farmer's house, I have to give them credit for being so dedicated. Many of these teachers spent their own money on construction paper, and a pan full of gel to make a stencil to make several copies of a test, and other things for the kids.

Penny pencils, tablets of paper with a picture of a big Indian chief on the front cover were the tools we had to use. We usually had crayons, some kids had a big box of sixteen different colors. The crayons had to last the year and if they were broken every bit was used in some project, nothing was wasted or thrown away.

Such good times, such terrific memories, such friends, such a loss when the schoolhouse was razed for giant lake.
District No. Ten, Chelsea Kansas, good bye.

Monte L. Manka--07-11-2001