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He’s from the old school

Many things stand out in memory of bygone days that bring on a fever of nostalgia when recalled. The old well bucket, the spring house, battery radios, washboards, and octagon soap are just a few. Another that stands out in my memory is the old wooden school desk — the place where many of us spent a large part of our childhood days. I can remember both single and double ones. The double desks seated two students, and, usually, the two were the same sex. As I remember, the desks were covered with names and initials inked in, scratched or carved.
Many things stand out in memory of bygone days that bring on a fever of nostalgia when recalled. The old well bucket, the spring house, battery radios, washboards, and octagon soap are just a few. Another that stands out in my memory is the old wooden school desk — the place where many of us spent a large part of our childhood days. I can remember both single and double ones. The double desks seated two students, and, usually, the two were the same sex. As I remember, the desks were covered with names and initials inked in, scratched or carved.
Young fellows thought so much of their girl friends in those days that they took a chance of being thrown out of school just to get his and her initials in some public place. I guess it was sort of a seal of pre-engagement, like class rings are today.
I remember particularly those long days in high school when I would sit in the worn, old desk with a hole in one corner for an inkwell and a pencil slot I would stare out the window, watching a farmer in a far-off field, plowing his land, completely oblivious of what the teacher was trying to make me learn, just enjoying the pretty green fields of springtime. How I wished to be out there, out anywhere that would take me beyond the walls of my imaginary prison. Or looking out on snowy days, praying for the flakes to get larger and for the white stuff to lay on so that classes would be dismissed early.
I would sit and worry over arithmetic problems, while I found strange comfort in running my fingers along the underside of the desk top, counting the wads of used-up chewing gum that had been left there over the years. Crudely-shaped hearts lay deep in the wooden desktop, perhaps carved by some lovesick student, while the unsuspecting teacher wrote on the blackboard of past participles and gerunds.
I remember one of those works of art that was a simple heart with “E loves B forever” carved inside. I have often wondered just how long that “forever” lasted or if those two lovers did spend their lives together. My guess is that old “E” went into the military service during the war years that followed school. Maybe he had the heart and initials of another love tattooed on his body somewhere. Or it is possible that he grew up to be a lawyer, or maybe a school teacher, to be plagued by mean boys, writing and carving their names and that of their sweethearts on their desks. If so, he probably spent a lot of time repeating to his class the classic little verse, “Fools’ names, like fools’ faces, always appear in public places.”
Those old school desks are an important part of our heritage — like the crosscut saw, the covered wagon, the kerosene lamp and the three-legged milking stool. They bring back fond memories — and maybe some that are not so fond. In these desks sat future presidents, great scientists, authors, doctors, diplomats and just plain people as they learned the three R’s from dedicated teachers who cared. And I’m not saying teachers today are not just as dedicated.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

He’s from the old school

Many things stand out in memory of bygone days that bring on a fever of nostalgia when recalled. The old well bucket, the spring house, battery radios, washboards, and octagon soap are just a few. Another that stands out in my memory is the old wooden school desk — the place where many of us spent a large part of our childhood days. I can remember both single and double ones. The double desks seated two students, and, usually, the two were the same sex. As I remember, the desks were covered with names and initials inked in, scratched or carved.
Many things stand out in memory of bygone days that bring on a fever of nostalgia when recalled. The old well bucket, the spring house, battery radios, washboards, and octagon soap are just a few. Another that stands out in my memory is the old wooden school desk — the place where many of us spent a large part of our childhood days. I can remember both single and double ones. The double desks seated two students, and, usually, the two were the same sex. As I remember, the desks were covered with names and initials inked in, scratched or carved.
Young fellows thought so much of their girl friends in those days that they took a chance of being thrown out of school just to get his and her initials in some public place. I guess it was sort of a seal of pre-engagement, like class rings are today.
I remember particularly those long days in high school when I would sit in the worn, old desk with a hole in one corner for an inkwell and a pencil slot I would stare out the window, watching a farmer in a far-off field, plowing his land, completely oblivious of what the teacher was trying to make me learn, just enjoying the pretty green fields of springtime. How I wished to be out there, out anywhere that would take me beyond the walls of my imaginary prison. Or looking out on snowy days, praying for the flakes to get larger and for the white stuff to lay on so that classes would be dismissed early.
I would sit and worry over arithmetic problems, while I found strange comfort in running my fingers along the underside of the desk top, counting the wads of used-up chewing gum that had been left there over the years. Crudely-shaped hearts lay deep in the wooden desktop, perhaps carved by some lovesick student, while the unsuspecting teacher wrote on the blackboard of past participles and gerunds.
I remember one of those works of art that was a simple heart with “E loves B forever” carved inside. I have often wondered just how long that “forever” lasted or if those two lovers did spend their lives together. My guess is that old “E” went into the military service during the war years that followed school. Maybe he had the heart and initials of another love tattooed on his body somewhere. Or it is possible that he grew up to be a lawyer, or maybe a school teacher, to be plagued by mean boys, writing and carving their names and that of their sweethearts on their desks. If so, he probably spent a lot of time repeating to his class the classic little verse, “Fools’ names, like fools’ faces, always appear in public places.”
Those old school desks are an important part of our heritage — like the crosscut saw, the covered wagon, the kerosene lamp and the three-legged milking stool. They bring back fond memories — and maybe some that are not so fond. In these desks sat future presidents, great scientists, authors, doctors, diplomats and just plain people as they learned the three R’s from dedicated teachers who cared. And I’m not saying teachers today are not just as dedicated.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.