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
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
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
Good morning to
We're all in our
And this is the
To start a new
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