A few have seen this little old shed that I often photograph. I am passionate about our area and its history and as I visited the old schoolhouse lot this morning, I felt a need to share the story of this brave little shed that has weathered the elements for at least a century….
At the junction of a bustling paved state highway and a quiet road of dirt stands a little clump of trees on a quaint knoll. Amid the Black Walnuts, for over a century now, has stood this little shed. I can see this proud little shed from our farmhouse. It has weathered at least one hundred years of rains and snows and soon will succumb to the elements. It stands just a few yards from busy cars coming and going – the majority of the occupants of which I am sure do not notice this lonely little shed as they scurry about their days. I notice it though. I have visited this little shed on many occasions – usually in silent reverence as I think back on it’s story. I have stepped inside the now unstable outbuilding and picked up a piece of coal that yet remained after all these years – holding the deep-black nugget in my hand, running my fingers over its shiny surface.
Close your eyes with me and step into the story of this quiet little shed. Picture the schoolhouse that once stood with the little shed, ruling this knoll together. Its last known facade being a full covering of greenish shingles, it now lies in a heap, a victim of the weather. For decades it welcomed children daily to enter and learn. Can you hear their teacher playing the piano? It too yielded to the collapse as it was still in schoolhouse when it fell down in early 1980’s. Can you hear the laughter of students playing outside beneath the mammoth Black Walnut tree? It too still occupies this little knoll. Can you taste the meat of the Black Walnuts that those children surely collected in their pockets? Can you hear the brass bell as it rang, summoning the students inside once again?
Envision the children – boys and girls – who walked (sometimes miles) to receive their education in this one-room schoolhouse. They walked through warm spring rains, cool crisp fall days amidst falling leaves, and bitter snow-laden January days…much like the one we are having today.
My father attended school there, but did not have far to journey from our family farm next door. He told me that he used to go over early and get the fire going before his classmates arrived. His sister, my Aunt Jane, was 10 years older than him. She taught at the schoolhouse and at one point, had my dad as a student.
A former student wrote a book about his adventures attending the one-room schoolhouse a few years ago. He recalled having my Aunt Jane (Miss Cranmer) for a teacher. There was one particularly cold winter day when the schoolhouse could just not be kept warm enough. My Aunt Jane marched her class right next door to her family’s farmhouse and held school in an upstairs room that day.
The schoolhouse last held class in 1945. Yet, 70 years later, I still feel the need for silent reverence when standing on that lot – to honor a one-room schoolhouse that once stood and a shed that will stand but a little while longer – last remains of a lost era.