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School Memories- Renwick, Iowa

By Maurice Nissen


My only recollection of the old frame school house used in Renwick before the present one  was built is a pile of rubble left after the old one was torn down.  The old well and pump were left for a period of years and the old outside toilets were moved over to the north side of the property - evidently for

the benefit of the country kids to help them out during the transition period to a more modern facility.


Four teachers were teaching grades one through eight, with each teacher being assigned two grades each.  A superintendent

and four additional teachers made up the high school faculty; one math teacher, one English teacher, one coach for all sports. 

Required subjects were algebra, geometry, Latin, Caesar, American history and three years of English.


Practice for all sports was after 3:15 p.m., or in the evening. We had an orchestra that practiced twice a week for 45 minutes

each week.  Classes and study periods were divided into 45 minute periods and we marched back to the assembly room

between classes for a change of books or material.  Ambling down the hall towards the assembly room also served as a

convenient opportunity to pass a note to your girl or boy friend if the timing was right.


Most of my memories of grade school are pleasant.  My first grade teacher taught our music as well as our other subjects. 

We had a little song we sang each morning.  We would bow to the left and the right and sing,

"Good morning to you,

 Good morning to you,

 We're all in our places,

 With sunshiny faces,

 And this is the way,

 To start a new day."

Sometimes she would write our names on our desk with a piece of chalk and we would cover the letters with shelled corn. 

Sometimes the teacher would remove the books and papers from the top of her desk, place a chair at each end and we would act out Billy Goat Gruff with the troll crawling out of the knee hole.


I recall getting a little rough with one of my classmates during recess and he returned to our room bawling like he had a toe cut off.  I was marched to his desk and had to endure the embarrassment of telling him I was sorry.  I would sooner have taken a spanking but I wasn't given a choice.


We were involved in W.W.I at the time and spent a lot of time cutting scrap pieces of dry goods into about 1/2 inch pieces.

I never did learn what they were used for but it was supposed to be for the war effort. 


One of the highlights of school was when a birthday rolled around.  On one occasion mother came with a tray full of cupcakes and after we had eaten our way half way through, we discovered a penny had been baked inside!


When I was in the first grade, we sometimes would give a little play and invite our parents to visit school.  I recall a play we gave along about the time of George Washington's birthday. Phil Stoddard played the role of George Washington and

brother Wilbur played the role of his father.  Someone rigged

up a branch on a tripod and when the time came for George to chop down the cherry tree, it was a riot.  The axe was dull and the branch was dry - Phil hacked away at that branch, but to no avail.  The best he could do was make the tripod slide across the floor a few inches with each hack.  Finally, the teacher had him lay the whole works, branch and tripod, over on its side.


As I progressed through the grades, we painted eggs at Easter time, exchanged valentines in February.  Of course there was

always a big pretty one for the teacher.  Some of the kids saved their valentines from year to year.  That way you could change the names on them and use 'em again.  Families with several children had to think about those things because it was an economy moved.  Drawing names for gifts at Christmas or having a grab bag (usually a 10 cent limit) continued through high school.


There was a period of time when I was a child that mother boarded school teachers.  The table was large enough to seat four teachers and our family and meals were served family style.  We always had a linen tablecloth and the teachers were given a clean linen napkin every Monday morning.  Napkins were fold differently for identification and they always served the week out. 


When I was in grade school, a high percentage of the high school pupils came to school on horseback or with a buggy. 

Since Renwick Independent School only included a 4 square mile taxable area, all the other pupils from Boone, Liberty and

Lake Townships that chose to have a high school education had their tuition paid by their township.  Each had to furnish their

own transportation.  Since there were several barns in town dating back to horse and buggy days, pupils had no problem

locating shelter for their horses.


Transportation from Renwick to basketball games had its growing pains.  While in grade school, I recall the local garage

had a truck with a 7x8 box.  A bench was put along each side and the floor covered with straw.  Players were piled into this box and everyone wore scarves, mittens, stocking caps and enough coats to keep themselves warm.  When I reached high school, we had enough loyal parents and alumni that would drive cars to the game for $2.00 per car so that transportation was taken care of in this manner.  We always had a lot of fun the

afternoon before the games when we drew names to see which car we would ride in.


Another incident was passed on to me by Fred Kraft.  The Renwick basketball teams traveled to Corwith via team and wagon over muddy roads.  It was 6 miles from Corwith to Fred's home in the country.  On their return trip, they were making rather slow time because they had to stop so often to

rest the horses.  When they were 3 miles from Fred's home, he stepped out of the wagon and started to walk.  He reached

home, got his parents out of bed and they had an early breakfast ready for the team when they arrived.


Back in 1929 the boy's basketball team faced an unusual situation.  It was time for tournament play and the roads were

blocked with snow.  We boarded the train and went to LuVerne.  From there we transferred to the Minneapolis and St. Louis train and went to Britt to play in the sectional.  We roomed on the 3rd floor of the hotel, ate beef steak at the same restaurant twice a day, played four games in three days and won the sectional trophy for our size school. 


On our return trip we went back to LuVerne by train and were met by Francis Krause with a team and sled.


Renwick School in Recent Times


This page was last updated 10/13/16