Sunday, October 08, 2017

Remembering One-Room Country Schools

Nearly every one-room country school in Wisconsin had closed by the mid-1960s. But the memories and stories from these little schools remain. Last Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to speak at the McMillan Library to a wonderful group of former one-room school students, a couple of teachers and several others interested in what these little country schools were like.

Stories of those days when one teacher and all eight grades learned together in one room were never ending. There was something special about these little schools, Wisconsin boasted more than 6,000 of them at one time.

My wife, Ruth, and I attended a one-room school for eight years. Her school was near Westby in Western Wisconsin, mine was west of Wild Rose. When I begin first grade (these schools had no kindergarten) my school had no electricity, was heated with a wood stove, and had no indoor plumbing. Electricity finally arrived, but the outdoor toilets and woodstove remained until the school closed in 1955.

Beyond the curriculum, and the education provided to several generations of farm kids, the country schools gave rural communities an identity. Not only did the school provide a formal educational opportunity for the community’s kids, it was the social center. The school provided a place for birthday parties, anniversaries, and of course offered the annual Christmas program that everyone in the community attended, whether they had kids in the program or not.

When these little schools closed, and the kids were bused to the consolidated school in a nearby village or city, something may have been gained in academic opportunity for the rural kids, but much was lost in rural communities as well.

For those interested in learning more about these little schools, read my daughter, Sue’s book, One Room Schools: Stories from the Days of 1 Room, 1 Teacher, 8 Grades. Or read my book: One Room Country Schools, History and Recollections.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Those of us who attended one-room country schools had a special education.


Oct. 14 at Neenah Public Library (Fox Cities Book Festival)– Never Curse the Rain– 11 a.m. .

Oct. 18 Water Conservation Presentation, Portage, 6:30 p.m. Knights of Columbus Hall, 918 Silver Lake Drive, Portage.

Oct. 25 at Cambridge Public Library – Never Curse the Rain – 12:30 pm

Saturday, October 28, at Edgerton Book Festival 9 a.m.Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, October 29, 2:00 p.m. at Reed School, Neillsville. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie..

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m. Mequon Nature Preserve, Mequon, WI. Never Curse the Rain.

Saturday, Nov. 11, Second Saturday, 9:00 a.m. Plymouth Art Center, The Land

Thursday, Nov. 16. 1:00 p.m. Berlin Library. Old Farm Country Cook Book.

Tuesday, November 28, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Madison. Never Curse the Rain.

Saturday, December 2, Dregni’s, Westby. Old Farm Country Cookbook, Susie and Jerry.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 6:00 p.m. Waupaca Historical Society, Christmas on the Farm

Saturday, Dec. 9 McFarlane’s, Prairie du Sac. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Sunday, Dec. 17 –Readers Realm Bookstore, Montello 1 p.m. Old Farm Country Cookbook. Jerry and Susie

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows,) and Never Curse the Rain, Jerry’s newest DVD based on his book with the same title.

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984

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