BY KEITH TUCKER
Special to The Enterprise
There are a number of cars at every school waiting in line to drop kids off and pick them after school. I want to tell you about an era in Weakley County when going to school was a very different experience. We have averaged between 4,500 to 5,000 students in our county system for several years going to four high schools and about seven lower-grade locations. But there was a time when more than 10,000 students attended more than 100 county schools. The era I researched was in the 1930s.
Almost every child was within five miles of the school they attended and yes, they all walked to school and home every day. If it was really cold or storming, a horse and wagon would be sent out to get them home. Almost everybody could walk to school in 30 to 60 minutes.
My mother went to Shafter School, and she was helpful in recalling some of the particulars. It was a two-room school with four grades in each room with 5 to 10 in each grade. Most years, there were two teachers, one for each room.
When it came time for her to teach your grade, you moved up to the front of the class while the others worked quietly at the desks in the back. Four grades per room with 40 to 50 students in each room. Roads were dirt, which meant mud when it rained, and a coal or wood stove for heat. A black man came by early to fire up the stove in the winter. The heat did not circulate well so it was too hot up close and too cold far away.
Mom recalled when she took her umbrella on rainy-looking days, sometimes one of the boys walking along would grab it and jump 10 feet off the wooden bridge pretending to parachute. It always turned the umbrella wrong side out. Now, most kids took one bath a week back then, so, when the weather started to warm, not all the kids smelled all that great being in close proximity to one another. Having said all that, is it possible that we are trying to make life a little too easy for the next generation?
Editor’s note: Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.