The air’s a little stiff in September. Fall is here, trees are starting to show signs of their annual foliage transformation. Fires are keeping apple butter kettles hot, and hogs are eating their way to the dining room table. Deer are getting scarce as hunters are spending more time on tree stands.
At Weber City Elementary School, the PTA used to throw a Fall Festival each year. We’d go from room to room with activities in each place. We had to decorate our rooms with special art work and sometimes test papers we’d passed. You know, those white sheets with purple print on them, that smelled so great coming fresh out of the office on a Thursday morning. There was a smell the mimeograph machine could produce that no photocopier has ever replicated.
Each room had those gray/green desk seats where we could put our books underneath the seat and some of them had places for pencils at the top of the desk board. We would aim our seats toward the teacher’s desk at the front of the room, with a large green “black” board behind, with a row of foot-high bulletin board above it. Teachers would decorate that row to bring variety to our rooms, and teach us our letters, or whatever we were to learn there.
It was usually in September we could see our breath again after the heat of summer. Long, curly white plumes of air would entertain us while we waited for the big yellow bus to pull up to the back of the house (as it had a four-lane highway behind it). Sitting on the inside of the bus, you could make designs in the condensation that formed on the windows. We did this to fill the time while the bus rounded the curves through the graveled roads over near the river, from the Tipton place to the Necessary home, turning around on the Newland Hollow Road. Back down Sun Down Drive, (near the old Sun Down Theater), and back to the four lane, then on to Weber City. We poured out of the bus like water at the front of the school, heading to our rooms for the day. We’d stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, pause for prayer, and get on with our work. No one ever questioned it. No one ever complained. We were patriotic and religious and it seemed right.
Miss Mays would rule the first grade classroom with an iron fist and wooden paddle. She never married, and seemed grouchy about that. But she “give us larnin’.” Second grade was your choice of a Mrs McConnell. I had Matilda, the other half of our second grade had the other Mrs McConnell. My teacher was sweet that year, and we got along great. Third grade we moved into the new addition which we had watched being built during second grade. Our new room was up a few steps from the gym, and I was assigned the dreaded Mrs Blankenbeckler. She was tough as nails and took no prisoners. I didn’t like her, and got resentful when my friends in Mrs McClellan’s class talked about how sweet she was. But I survived. Then in fourth grade we moved from room to room with four teachers: Mrs Kelly (My home-room teacher), Mrs Starnes (who opened all the windows in the winter because she had heard cool air would help you lose weight, and she wanted to do that), Mrs Elliott, who was cut from Mrs Blankenbeckler’s cloth, and Mrs Culbertson, who once scared the hiccups out of me with her cruel demeanor. Same crew for Fifth grade, too.
In sixth, Mrs Culbertson moved up with us, but we also had Mrs Slemp, Mr Barker, and Mrs Carter. Some of those are still living so I will stop my commentary here.
Weber City was a pretty neat school. We obeyed our teachers, cared for each other, and many of the students went to church together. Those days are gone, but when the air gets cool in September, I can almost hear Mr Dougherty get on the loud speaker and tell us “Teachers, the Lenowisco Man is here.”