Sunday, January 12, 2014

Country School in Winter

The below-zero temperatures this past week reminded me my of one-room country school when the weather was so cold.  Our little school was heated with a wood stove, one that the teacher was required to start an hour or so before the students arrived.  No matter how cold it was, and I remember days when it was thirty-five below, the school never closed.  We all walked to school, as did the teacher, so there was no reason to shut things down for a little cold or snowy weather.

                I especially remember that on the coldest days, especially if there was a wind, the front of the schoolhouse never got close to comfortable.  The school had no storm windows, and the building was not insulated so the cold could seep into the building with little difficulty.  When we arrived at school, we brought our lunch buckets (Karol syrup or former lard pails) into the school room so our sandwiches wouldn't freeze.  On warmer days, the lunch buckets along with our boots, caps, coats and scarves stayed in the entry way, where the day’s supply of wood for the ever hungry stove was stored.

                Once we all had arrived at school, still wearing our outdoor clothing, we huddled around the big wood stove, wondering what the teacher had planned for us.  The school had a wind-up Victrola—a machine that played 78 rpm records.  The school had maybe a dozen such records, and on these cold mornings, she would crank-up the Victrola, put on a John Phillip Sousa record and we’d all march around the school room in time with the music.  I thought it was about the dumbest thing I’d ever experienced.  Marching around a frigid school room to the sound from a record machine.  But the teacher knew what she was doing.  Wearing our coats and hats and marching warmed us up enough so when the record was over and we once more gathered around the wood stove, we were comfortable enough to participate in the day’s learning activities.  At the time, I was also too dumb to realize that she was also introducing us to a wonderful composer of march music, perhaps the very best.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Let’s never forget how special the one-room country school teachers were.

January 14. Paperbacks and Pieces bookstore, Winona, MN.  429 Mankato Ave. 12:00-2:00 p.m. Featuring THE QUIET SEASON.

January 15-16.  La Crosse Farm Show, Convention Center. Winter on the Farm featuring stories from THE QUIET SEASON.  Speaking each day at 11:00 and 1:00.

January 22, 6:30 p.m. UW-Eau Claire Woodland Theater (in Davis Student Center). TV show with live presentation. (Winter on the Farm) Book signing of THE QUIET SEASON.

February 8, Sat. Garden Expo, Madison Alliant Center, 2:15 p.m. Garden Wisdom presentation.

February 9, Sun. Garden Expo, Madison Alliant Center, 10:15 Three Sisters Garden presentation.

February 23, 2:00 p.m. Gard Theater, Spring Green.  Showing of Winter on the Farm with questions and discussion.  Followed by book signing of THE QUIET SEASON. Sponsored by Wisconsin Public TV and Arcadia Bookstore.

For those interested in purchasing DVDS and Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):

A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps, DVD $20.00 shipping included (An hour-long documentary that has aired on public television.)

The Quiet Season by Jerry Apps $25.00 shipping included (Hardcover book about winter memories—A Farm Winter is based on this book.)

The Bundle: A Farm Winter DVD and The Quiet Season hardcover book - Save $5.00 only $40!
Order from:
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division St.
Wild Rose, WI  54984

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