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Lower Fairfield School
"The Little Red Schoolhouse."
Note: Fairfield is in Tioga Co., NY,
this is not too far from the Town of Caroline, Tompkins Co., NY line.
These clippings were found in an old scrapbook.
Excerpt from - "I Remember When."
The year 1899-1900 I taught the Lower Fairfield School with 31 pupils
in attendance. They came, mostly, walking in, from the hills and crossroads
there about. The schoolhouse was on the main highway, a country dirt
road. It was the only public building - no church, no store.
The school day began with the ringing of the brass hand bell, provided by the teacher, who was also the janitor. In winter a schoolboy was hired to kindle a fire in the cast iron chunk stove, early in the day. The tin dipper, seldom washed, was filled (two pupils carried the water from a neighboring well). There were no screens placed. What mattered a few flies 60 years ago?
The roll was called: Carl Alvord, Holmes Barrett, Floyd Barrett, Lizzie Bakeman, Susie Doty, Estella Daggett, Robert Daggett, Lottie Galpin, Earl Galpin, Jesse Hart, Maude Hart, Adelphe Hart, Pearl Hines, Everett Henderson, Orange Henderson, Jesse Keith, Leroy Krum, Edna Lane, Laura Mathewson, Erwin Mathewson, Agnes Mathewson, Archie Van Slyke, and Nathan Turk. Also my eight beginners: Leon Barrett, Nina Brink, Homer Brink, Ethel Doty, George Ford, Ross Galpin, Ethel Harris and Mona Keith.
All grades 1st through 9th were represented. Latin and Algebra were taught in 9th grade. The pupils were in school from 9 to 4. I recall they were well behaved girls and boys, therefore few problems in discipline.
I boarded next door to the schoolhouse at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Turk. Nathan was preparing for High School entrance examinations, and we did a bit of extra work on the side.
From 8:15 A.M. to unlock the door, to 5 P.M. to correct papers, tidy the room, etc. I was paid $6 per week. Many country schools paid less - no income tax, however! Weekends, when roads were passable, I rode my bicycle home. It was about 8 miles. Enroute, were the Warner, Barden, Knapp, and Roe homes, pleasant stops for a short visit. These friendly people are now gone, as are Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Galpin who often invited me for supper and the night. I wonder if? "Still sits the school house by the road A ragged beggar, sunning. (If) Around it still, the Sumacs grow And blackberry vines are running" Whittier)
- Edith Whittaker Snow (Mrs. Arthur T. Snow, Sr.), Maple Grove Farm, Trumansburg, N.Y.
Excerpt from "I Remember When.."
Attached herewith is a check which covers a renewal subscription to
your paper. Although most of the current news items concern people
who are strangers to me, I do find your "I Remember When" column very enjoyable.
While I cannot reminisce quite as far back in the colorful past as some
people, I can add comments that are quite a contrast to present-day living.
I, too, attended the Lower Fairfield school, which was known as "The Little Red Schoolhouse." My first teacher was Miss Laura Ward, and I was fortunate enough to enter at the time when there were no set rules governing age and time of admission in a school term. I had long begged to be allowed to go to school, and mother promised that when I was five years old, I might go. On the morning of the 13th of March, I reminded my mother of her promise. Being one who always kept her promises, I started off to school - something that would be unheard of now in the days of firm time scheduling of school terms.
I well remember that red school house. It looked mighty fine to me then, but I am sure it would be a shock to pupils in this modern school age. To the rough board floor with wide cracks in it were nailed double seats, while at the back was a wooden bench nailed to the wall as seating space for the back row of pupils. As I remember, there were four windows on each side of that classroom reaching to the ceiling, which meant that the bottom of the window was well above the line of vision of all pupils.
I was given a seat with my sister, Laura, who felt responsible for my good behavior. Laura placed me on the side next to the wall, thinking she could watch me better. No one thought of the desk being too high for me, or of my feet dangling in the air.
I well remember, Miss Ward. She was a tall, stout woman, with a round jolly face - but she could also be very stern - although invariably she was warm and patient. Miss Ward wore glasses set in gold bows. Her face was so broad and plump that I sat for days looking in amazement at the glasses because they spread so wide as they reached toward her ears. It was probably quite the same amazement as an Eskimo child felt for me when one November found me in their Eskimo village school with only open-toed shoes on my feet. That little child, Emily Friendly was about the same age I had been when I first saw Miss Ward, but she was more audible about her amazement. She sat for a least a day and pointed at my feet, laughing and talking in Eskimo. Probably that was because she didn't have a sister who was concerned about her behavior.
All children have first impressions of their teachers and from these impressions sometimes build aspirations. I well remember telling my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like Miss Laura Ward. Now, years later, If I were to evaluate my accomplishments, I would say I have approximated Miss Ward neither in physical nor professional achievements.
But to go back to the Little Red Schoolhouse. Of course, I have pretty well forgotten the minor details of the first day, but I do remember the peddler's cart which came by the school each week. The windows, high on the wall, could not shut out the sound of the bell on the peddler's cart. What a distraction that must have been for the teacher, for up would go the hands of the big boys" "Teacher, I have to see the peddler."
In those days no one had much money to spend, but least of all the girls.
With what envy would the rest of us view those few boys as they came back
with their brightly colored pencils, hard candy, and sticks of licorice.
On those days that narrow space between my seat and the wall was no deterrent,
and frequently my sister would find me in the back seat with Leon Barrett
enjoying a stick of licorice.
Other times of distraction had to do with the water pail. At recess time, some of the older pupils had the privilege of getting a pail of water from the Walter Dennis farm about a quarter of a mile away. They would barely return by the end of the recess period. Then, of course, everyone had to have a drink, and it was someone else's turn to pass the water each day. The pail was passed from seat to seat, up and down each row and each pupil took his drink from the one dipper in the pail.
Now don't think that we didn't have ideas of sanitation, for there was the wash bench with the wash basin, soap, and one towel. On Fridays pupils had an opportunity to take the towel home, wash and iron it, and bring it back on Monday clean for another week.
I have other memories of the passing years. I remember sitting at my desk with my geography book, looking at the map of North America and seeing Alaska with the Aleutian Islands stretching far to the west. I used to sit and wonder, probably I day-dreamed, about people who might live in the Aleutian Islands - what they were like, what they did to make a living and what grew there. But little did I then suppose I would one day go to what was then a far-away land and teach other children about the other 48 states.
It is true this school lacked some of the finesse of modern-day education. However, what it lacked in that respect, I am sure was made up for in other ways. Certainly our initiative was not warped or stunted by over-direction. I do feel that resourcefulness and practicality were nurtured and developed. I feel sure that any success I have had could be traced back to my early life and training.
Other memories besides school memories enter my thinking. There was, for example, the year when it was necessary for me to leave school because of a long illness.
It was winter-time; the weather was cold, the snow was heavy, and the drifts were high, yet never a week went by but that our family doctor came to our home to give advice and check on my condition. He drove a horse and cutter, which he often had to leave several miles down the road at another farm house. Then he walked the remainder of the distance- unless the telephone happened to be in working order and he had been able to contact my father who would then go and get him. That was Dr. W. A. Moulton, whose obituary I recently read in your paper.
We could skip along now to high school days. I was fourteen and ready for entrance to high school. So was Mildred Leet, a neighbor friend of mine. We lived about six miles from town; too far in those days for daily transportation. We rented a room in town from Mrs. Bessie Moore.
Besides a sleeping room, we also had kitchen privileges, and were allowed to prepare our three meals a day in Mrs. Moore's kitchen. For these accommodations Mildred and I each paid 50 cents a week. The room, large and spacious, was furnished with a dresser, wash stand and a large double bed. It was a north room, upstairs, and away from all heat. But we thought nothing of this. In the spring, summer and fall it was pleasant and in the winter we just placed heated soapstone's in our bed early in the evening.
Mrs. Moore was a very forthright person. She was kind, but she had standards and felt responsibilities. I well remember Mrs. Moore lived behind the D. L. and W. Railroad station, just across the railroad tracks. It was spring, begging you to be outside. A railroad crew was working on the track. In those days by nine o'clock most young people of our age were expected to go to bed. I well remember one evening Mildred and I had gone upstairs and were ready for bed when the front door opened and in came another high school student who also lived at Mrs. Moore's. She was more sophisticated than we were and had had a date for the show. It was past nine o'clock, perhaps as late as 9:30. We heard voices. We heard steps on the stairs, each step a little faster, and behind them were heavy, angry steps. Several times we heard: "This is much too late, Much too late, I cannot have girls living in my house staying out 'til all hours." In a very few minutes an understanding was reached as to what standards were and how they were to be followed. Mildred and I congratulated each other that we had not been the recipients of this discipline.
These are only a few of my memories, but they are vivid ones and happy ones. Were I again to make a trip to Candor, I would find much pleasure reminiscing in person with some of my old-time friends.
-Rhoda Thomas, P.O. Box 5-445, Mountain View Branch, Anchorage, Alaska
Excerpt From : "I Remember When."
One of the fondest memories I have as I look back over the days of yesteryear
is that of my first day of school at the Little Red Schoolhouse, District
17, East Candor or Lower Fairfield
Lucy Larcom was the teacher and I adored her as I would a loving aunt and it was no fault of an uncle of mine that she didn't in reality become my aunt.
I can remember the dresses that Laura Tubbs and Martha Lovejoy wore as well as though it were only yesterday.
Miss Larcom really loved her flock and they loved her, although some of the older boys took a poor way of showing it.
The stove that was used for heat was one of those long jobs with a large drum over it through which the smoke passed to give the rooms more heat. This arrangement worked much better in theory than in practice as far as the draft of the firebox was concerned.
This drum was supported on one end by a short length of stovepipe and on the other with a cast iron leg shaped flat on the bottom and on the top to conform to the shape of the drum.
Earl Galpin sat in the southwest corner of the room, which by the way was all there were, and he suddenly had the desire to take a little trip around back of the school building to the east section of the double necessary house with the little crescent cut out of the gable just below the peak on each end.
So he raised his right hand and by letting his second finger slip off his thumb, he created quite a snapping racket until he attracted the teacher's attention, whereupon he raised two fingers which was the proper signal to acquaint her of the condition he was in and his desire to be excused temporarily from her immediate supervision.
She asked if this freedom was necessary and he said yes so emphatically that his request was granted and he stared for the door in the opposite corner.
Of course he was in a hurry and must have stubbed his toe or something, because he never would have done it purposely, but he caught his toe around the brick which was used in lieu of a leg under one corner of the stove and in the meantime knocking the leg out from under the drum.
The stove door flew open, fire and wood tumbled out on the floor, the drum and about 20 feet of stovepipe were strewn around, the kids began to scream and all Hades was let out for recess.
The pupils were finally marshaled out of the building and the last drop of drinking water was dumped out of the bucket to put out the fire.
Earl was "oh so sorry" but Miss Lucy didn't appreciate his sincerity and he also forgot to complete his trip around the corner.
I hope your Water Works Superintendent doesn't let his brother know we remembered this accident.
This was the beginning of my schooling and nearly the last of Earl's at District 17 but there was another escapade that Miss Lucy laid at his door, which of course we doubt.
One morning when she arrived at school, the water bucket and other things were hauled up to the top of the flagpole, which she removed without too much ado. She then proceeded to build the fire but it wouldn't draw very well but finally began belching out acrid smoke in billows, filling the room so it was impossible to remain in it.
Upon investigation by the older boys, it was found the chimney had been stuffed with rags. After their removal, the heating plant again resumed operations.
Miss Lucy married Ray Casterline of Campville, and while your writer was an erstwhile harness marker at Travis Murray Co., about 1939, she came in to see me as she was on her way to Florida. This was a trip from which she never returned, so this is another memory of her that I cherish.
In the forgoing ramblings we have eulogized our first teacher but the second one was surely a humdinger.
Her weight was about 300 lobs. And she had a great scar across her cheek, which I doubt she received in the battle of the sexes, as she was never married.
The first day of school she opened up and laid down the rules that we must follow and telling of the punishment we would receive if we didn't obey them, all of the time accentuating the points with gesticulations and desk walloping with a hickory pointer.
I know I must have sweat a bucketful by the looks of the seat.
Well, these rules were never enforced or tried to be enforced and in less than a week the kids were doing more running of the school then she was, and at heart she was a very kind-hearted person.
Each weekend, when she returned from a home trip, there were bags of candy, oranges, peanuts, etc. but our knowledge of the three R's didn't increase commensurately.
She boarded with Nettie J. and Ven Galpin on the Newman road where Charles Edsall now lives.
Just a thought in passing, Clyde Galpin and Lillian Bakeman lor? Of this house at very near the became man and wife in the partime (?) of which we write and Aunt Ven, as we called her, asked us in to see the set-up, which was beautiful.
Leon and Floyd Barrett, Robert and Stella Daggett and yours truly and perhaps some of the younger ones passed by her boarding place on the way to school. I don't think my brother Archie or sister Hazel and Hattie Daggett, had started to school then, as they were somewhat younger.
I don't know how Lura (Laura) Wood knew that Van Ess (Ness) Barrett had hard cider but somehow she found out and that is why Leon always used to get more goodies than we did. He also was a brilliant scholar.
Uncle Nettie and Aunt Ven, as well as the Trustee of District 17, would turn over in their graves if they knew that several jugs of hard cider had been consumed by their boarder and by his trusted employee into whose hands the task of instilling knowledge and the upbuilding of the character of the fledglings of the district, had been placed.
The Barrett boys mentioned and Robert and Hattie Daggett have passed to that great beyond.
Holmes Barrett, the oldest son of Van Ess (Ness) Barrett, lives at Nutley, N.J. I'd love to see him now.
Stella Daggett Brink the oldest child of Will and Rosa Daggett lives at Pleasant Valley across from the church and beside the parsonage mentioned in a previous article.
Archie Newman lives at Main St., Athens, PA. Hazel Newman Dennis Howell lives at Peckville, PA, which is a suburb of Scranton. Both are retired I am sure any of these last mentioned persons would be tickled pink to receive a card or letter from any one of you reader who might remember them. Glenn Newman
(Brackets) are typist's.
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