Fredonia No. 1

School Daze Memories from former students and teachers!


Fredonia No. 1, Memories from student, Henry L. Darville

SCHOOL DAYS - Schooling was a part of growing up. The country one-room school house was about a mile and one quarter from our house by way of the road.

The distance was shortened by crossing the property of Bill Buss and cutting at an angle. We made quite a path especially across the plowed field. We had to cross the bridge where we came out upon the road, then it was only a short distance to the school grounds. The distance was shortened a little by crossing the river when covered with ice thick enough to support our weight.

The school ground was without water. This was carried by bucket from the nearest farm, maybe equivalent to probably a long block. A wood shed was in back of the school building for fuel for the stove. Usually, corn cobs for starting and coal. Wood was rather scarce. Just inside the entrance to the school, the chemical toilets were placed, one on right for the boys and one on the left for the girls. The large one-room school had a raised sand box in the back for the 1st Graders to play in. (I don't recall if we had a kindergarten class.) A large pot belled stove was in the middle. I remember some sort of stand in the back for the water bucket. I believe we all drank out of the same water dipper. The one teacher had to teach all grades, one through eight. We had the usual recess periods and lunch hour. Everybody brought their own lunch. Depending on the time of the year, the teacher had us playing baseball and probably a few other games. In the winter with snow on the ground, there was a game called "Fox and Goose." I have no idea now how it worked. Guess the boys were building snow forts and throwing snow balls at each other. I was a poor student as I didn't like school. Home work wasn't for me.

The last day of school in the spring was always a picnic by the river. The 8th grade picnic was almost a disaster for me. The day before, another boy in 8th grad, Pete Molder, talked us into asking our mother if we could go swimming as they had permission, so they said. Mom agreed to this. There should have been some rules laid down, but there wasn't. After eating we older boys wandered to the river. Pete Molder, the boy that asked if we were wearing our suits and of course we were. Pete said they weren't allowed but he encouraged Ralph and I to go into this shallow water with a sand beach.
They took off their shoes and went wading. About all that I can remember is that a plank was found and I laid on it and paddled around. I found myself floating down river and for some reason got off the plank to wade ashore. I had floated out into some deep water which I didn't realize and when I let go of the plank I was in water over my head. I did not know how to swim. I was told that Pete ran to where the men were playing baseball and told them I was in the river and couldn't get out. My Dad ran over and went into the river and pulled me out. Believe me he saw my hair floating. I was unconscious and he brought me up on the river bank, drained some water from. I have no idea how long I was under the water, but it must not have been too long to be able to bring me about. This sure broke up the ball game and ended the picnic. I never received any punishment. Later in the summer, I was taken into the river in shallow water just to get over the fear of the water. Someone, it must have been Harold, taught me to swim right after that .

Memories of Jewel Nielsen, wife of Elmer Nielsen, grandson of Thorvald Kloster. Jewel was born in 1915.

Getting Hired to Teach in Fredonia Township

   Anyway I went  to college for 2 years in the 2-year teaching program and graduated.  Mrs. Fireovid took me to the schools in Fredonia Twp. that were looking for teachers. the first school was called the Mortenson School #4. They would hire me if their teacher wasn’t coming back, because she wasn’t sure. Only 6 students.

   Then we went to Fredonia #1—the Mulder School. They had just built a new school with basement, furnace, toilets for the boys and girls with septic tanks. It was wonderful. We also had a front porch and a hallway. There were 17 pupils.

   When we drove into the yard Mr. Mulder was in the yard, so we visited from the car and gave him my credentials and discussed the job. He told me he would let me know. Mrs. Fireovid asked me to check her tires on the car so I got out and checked them. Mr. Mulder was big man. After we left I asked her how come she had me get out and check the tires and she said, “I wanted him to se how tall you were.” Maybe that is how I got the job! I was almost 5’ 11’’. Tall for a young lady! That was 1936.

The Summer of 1936

   That summer I worked at the pit off and on. The 4th of July they hadn’t called and some of my friends were going to Sioux City to go to a movie because it had air-conditioning and it was a hot day, so I went to Sioux City and didn’t work. That was the day that Remsen caught fire and so did Oyens. We found out after we got home later in the day.

The Winter of 1936

   I didn’t have to look for a family to stay with the first year. Van Kompenburgs lived 1/4 miles east of the school and they offered to keep me. They had 2 girls in school, Esther and June. They had a boy who was a freshman in Orange City high school. It worked out well except that winter when we had all that snow. It was the worst in years. We got stuck by school. That was such a winding road and the snow was deep. I had school 2 weeks with just the Kompenburg girls. The other kids couldn’t get there. We needed horse-drawn sleighs. They made a road up in the school yard and by the windows on the south side.  The young fellow who lived kitty corner from the school would ride up and peek in the window and say in Dutch, “Nice day isn’t it, Teacher!”

   We had to have a dedication at the new school. The state superintendent of school, Parker, and Christine Peterson gave talks. I gave one also and  we had a program and lunch. A nice crowd.

   Miss Peterson visited the schools and we never knew when she was coming. We were located ideally to have field trips because the Floyd River passed through the pasture across the road and we could see lots of birds, turtles, swallow nests and some fish, different grasses, etc. The kids behaved very well and enjoyed seeing all the different things. No teacher had ever done that before. The kids did a good job in memorizing poems and song and we always had a good program. We had to do 3 programs a year. A money-maker to keep the standardization of the school. Always had lunch and coffee.

   I signed up to teach the next year for $60 a month. Had some new kids in March so I had 21 kids the next year. Van Kompenburg’s decided they didn’t like keeping the teacher, so Nick Kloster’s on the Hwy 33 said that they would. So that’s where I stayed. It was almost 2 miles to walk as the road that went to the school was very winding and there were no houses.  I was young and didn’t mind the walking. I walked to and from school all the time, rain or shine. Never was sick. The only time I missed was when my father passed away in October of 1937.

~Jewel Godwin taught at Fredonia No. 1; 1936-1938
~Obituary Jewel Godwin Nielsen




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