Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lick Skillet School

 Rondy Ledford (my father) and his siblings Ralph, Reba, Rena, Reuben, Robert, Robenia, and Ray attended Lick Skillet School.  It was a little one-roomed school located deeply in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Hayesville, North Carolina.

"Mind your teacher!" yelled Ma Ledford as she shooed her young'uns out the door.  They walked two miles to Lick Skillet School that was located on Myers Chapel Road.  On warm days, the children went barefooted.

The children made it to school just as the bell rang.  School started at 8:00 each morning.  Miss Opal Crawford stood on the steps of the little white-plank school and rang the bell.  "Good morning, scholars," she said with a smile.  "Hurry and take your seats.  You have a lot to learn today."

Rondy, Ralph, Reba, Rena, Reuben, Robert, Robenia, and Ray put their lunch buckets on a shelf in the cloak room.  Ray got a dipper full of water from the bucket.

Reba poked him in the ribs.  "You better not drink all that water.  You'll have to go to the outhouse before recess.  Miss Crawford won't like that."

Ray stuck out his tongue at Reba.  He drank the full dipper of water.

The young'uns took their seats in the one-room school.  Girls sat on one side and boys on the other.  Children who misbehaved had to sit on the opposite side--a punishment that sometimes backfired.  Reuben had a crush on a little red-headed girl and enjoyed being sent to the girl's side to sit beside his girlfriend.

The one-room school included a blackboard, desks, the teacher's desk, and a potbelly stove.  The older boys carried buckets of coal into the classroom.  Students often asked the teacher if they could dust the erasers.  What a pleasure to get outside, get out of work to dust the erasers.

The day started with the students giving the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and singing, "The Star Spangled Banner."  Miss Crawford read from the Bible and they had prayer in the classroom.

Then the scholars started working on their morning assignments.  They practiced penmanship on slates.  Miss Crawford called students to the blackboard to work arithmetic problems.  She called groups to the front of the room.  The scholars memorized spelling words and read from the McGuffey's Readers.

The morning flew and it was time for recess.  The boys played ball.  The girls went to the woods and cleaned out spots for a playhouse.  They used moss for furniture and little pieces of glass they could find for dishes.

The children had an hour for lunch.  After they ate, the pupils played games such as:  Ring Around the Rosy, hopscotch, Andy Over, Kick the Can, Drop the Handkerchief, and other games.

Recess ended too soon.  Miss Crawford rang the bell for the afternoon session of school.  Sometimes they held spelling bees.  She wrote the homework on the blackboard and dismissed school at 4:00.

It was a busy day at Lick Skillet School.  The children received a good education at the little one-room school that served as the heart of the community.  People also voted there, held cake walks, benefit singings, and square dances.  The community was proud of their school and supported the schoolmarm.

Today Chatuge Shores Golf Course rolls over the hill where Lick Skillet School stood.  A golfer swings his club and strikes a ball.  It twangs like the softball some pioneer scholar once struck on the same green spot.

Lenton Rose

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