Delo Probst is definitely remembered as one of my favorite teachers.
She taught many of us during our first year of school. Miss Probst
was so tender hearted that she broke down one day when a neckless
hulk from Oglesville told her that the paddle she intended to use on
him was just like the club that his Pa used to get his horses
attention. He had been held back a few times because he spent a good
portion of the school year helping his Pa make Moonshine.
Mrs. Cora Borders was the third grade teacher for many of us. At the
beginning of the school year she instructed her students to write a
specific word on a piece of paper. Then she marched us to the
Southeast corner of the schoolyard and dug a small hole and
instructed us to place the piece of paper in the hole. We then
formed a circle around the hole and made a pledge to never use this
word on the paper in the future. After the hole was filled we
returned to the classroom. I rather doubt that the members of this
class use this word today, unless it would be used to emphasize a
point. Oh the word was "ain't" . She also told us we should never
stick anything smaller than our right elbow in our left ear.
Mrs. Elizabeth Woods was the teacher for the class of 1949 at the
Baptist Church. We were so isolated from the rest of the other
grades that we had to be more independent and creative. She had such
a relaxed manner that we never felt threatened as with some of the
other teachers. It was my most interesting and unusual school year.
Roscoe Pridy was our teacher when we were in the seventh grade on
the east side of the auditorium in the old red schoolhouse. He was
as big as a bear and enjoyed rough housing with Shelby Batson and
Lefty Miller. They were almost as big as Preacher Pridy. We all got
a kick out of him spanking Lucian Talley who would jump and yell
every time he was given a swat. Even Mr. Pridy seemed to enjoy
Lucian's antics as much as the rest of the class members.
Miss Rhoda Conrad was our favorite teacher in junior high. She loved
poetry and music. One of her favorite poems was "The Owl and the
Pussy Cat". She enjoyed plunking on the old piano while we bellowed
out "Therea's a Tavern in the Town".
Mr. Gramling was our High School Science teacher. He was a great old
gentleman who loved to expound on all of the great inventions and
interesting events that had taken place during his life.
Miss Verna Georgia O'Hare was a very sweet person that we caused a
lot of grief/heartburn during our Senior English class. Students can
be so insensitive and unappreciative of a good teacher. She was our
chaperone of "Rag Day" and was never quite the same after this field
Miss "Spittin" Jennie (we never wanted this lady to get in our face
without a hanky handy) and Vandelia Snider were an interesting and
entertaining pair of sisters from Campbell.
Mr. Robert Alsup was our school superintendent and class sponsor for
two years. He was a very mellow teacher that we all loved. Dewey
Piatt and I would have done a belly dance in the lunchroom at high
noon if he had been our superintendent when we were involved in a
fight in Miss Conrad's English class. Mr. Alsup would have
escorted us to his office for a little prayer meeting. Where as Mr.
Tallent grabbed us by the scruff of the neck and drug us a kickin
and a screamin (not really or he would have slapped us silly) to
his office where he gave us holy hell. Our entire national
educational system could use a lot more like Mr. Tallent today,
although I wouldn't have agreed to this at that time.
School Daze and Kids
The first few years of school were my most enjoyable and the fourth grade
was my all time favorite. It must have been much like the rural classes.
The new high school hadn't been completed yet and the old red school house
was over crowded. So the fourth grade was moved to the Baptist church house
where we had less equipment, so we had to be more creative and self
sufficient. The class had contests to include shooting marbles, flying
kites and spinning tops. The teacher provided the winner with prizes. Dewey
Piatt excelled in all three events. We also climbed trees, made corn stalk
cabins and tunneled under the roots of trees for our little cars. (can you
imagine 4th graders doing this today)? We performed a skit about Tom Sawyer
white washing his Aunt Polly's fence and even held some of our classes out
of doors on the ground in nice weather. When one of the pupils needed to be
punished the teacher assigned one of the other boys to do the spanking.
This spanking took place on stage with a curtain drawn across the front of
the stage, so you can bet that we had a ball behind the curtain. The
spanker, whacked his own thigh or bottom, while the one that was to have
been punished yelled as if he was being killed. The entire class snickered
or laughed when we returned to our seats. Mrs. Woods knew how to inspire us
to make good grades, while enjoying every aspect of this school year. It
was our most unusual school year.
Miss Woods was a mother figure to Tommy Culbertson. She took him to some of
the softball games that she participated in. She was a wonderful teacher as
were many of our teachers. Some of them were Miss Borders, Delo Probst,
Miss O'hara, Mr. Grambling, Mr. Alsup to name a few. I shutter to think
how Miss Conrad would grade this bio, but she would have to admit that
there is a slight improvement.
The term "hot-footin-it" surely started when we were in grade school and
had to lineup on the wide sidewalk in front of the old red school house, as
soon as the hand held school bell was rung, the students would then file
into their respective rooms by grade and if your class was at the end of the
line, believe me, we had to do a lot of hopping from one foot to the other
during the summer months, when we boys all went barefoot. The fortunate ones
got a new pair of shoes when school started back in the fall. The "teachers
pet" always got to ring the school bell and dust the blackboard erasers on
the outside of the building. All of the students used the large red covered
"Big Chief" writing tablets. This was years before the ball point pen, so
many of the students used the pencil or mechanical pencil (Eversharp) with
the long pieces of replacement lead. I received a large Eversharp pencil
with several colors of lead for perfect attendance in the fifth grade.
If a boy misbehaved, he was required to sit facing a corner. Some of the
teachers made the boy sit with a girl, which caused the rest of us to
snicker, except for the poor embarrassed seatmate. Claudie would do just
about anything except stand on his head hoping that the teacher would put
him in a seat with one of the cute Wright or Davis girls (they were all
cuter than the dickens).
Some of the kids from the country would bring their lunches in the metal
pails that Rex Jelly came in, with a metal lid and a wire bail. The jelly
was bright red in color and really tickled our palate!
During the elementary grades, we had an annual "play day", which was a day
of competition in sports with all of the one room schools within our school
district. Some of these schools were so far out in the boonies, that a
person had to wonder how they ever got there. There were foot races in all
age groups, high-jump, broad-jump (which is called long-jump today) dodge-
ball, volleyball and other events.
The senior class always had the refreshment concession on play-day, to make
money for their senior trip. Some of the senior classes took trips to New
Orleans or Florida, my class didn't give a hoot for a long trip, so we went
all the way to Keeners resort for the weekend, a few miles northwest of
Poplar Bluff. (which contained a cave where Jesse James was alleged to have
hidden from the law. This is also true of most of the caves in Missouri.)
Most of the high school classes came here for their annual "picnic day" at
the end of the school year.
There were boat rides and swimming in a natural pool that was spring fed by
an enormous spring. Only the brave ones or perhaps that should be the nutty
ones swam across and back as fast as they could in this ice cold pool. It
still gives me goose bumps just to think of it. There were also cabins, a
dance hall, and restaurant. This is the only place in the states that I've
seen the gravity toilets. The tank is mounted high upon the wall. There
were a few of them at the 97th General Hospital (in Germany, when I was
stationed there). The lower grades went to the Black River Park, where the
Fourth of July picnics were always held.
More thoughts on the games we played and the clothes we wore.
In later years all of these outlying schools were united into one
consolidated school and then were bussed in to Qulin, ending play day.
Jeans and slacks were not worn to school by the girls. None of the girls
would have considered and would have been expelled if they had done so.
Most of the boys wore bib overalls and denim shirts until they were twelve
or so. The folks gave me my first pair of blue Jean pants when I was in the
fourth grade. The pants had a zipper on one of the front pockets with a
small red horseshoe attached to it. The pants and my Tom Mix pocket knife
were my pride and joy.
At school we played red rover, red rover, send someone over, king of the
hill (bunkers hill), tag, dodge ball, wolf over the ridge, take away (it
should have been keep away), which was a lot less damaging to the clothes,
body and the teachers didn't object to keep away. Rough house (every man
for himself and devil for them all, was strictly forbidden, but difficult
to enforce). The one that the larger boys enjoyed the most and was the most
dangerous, was crack the whip. The smaller ones were always on the end of
the whip and it was next to impossible for the wee ones to hang on, when
the whip was cracked. There were cuts and bruises, a few loose teeth (I
have one discolored front tooth, the results of an elbow to the mouth) and
infrequently a broken bone. It's always a little shocking to see an arm
bending between the wrist and elbow. There was a game of bounce the board,
with a kid on either end of a low teeter-totter a few inches off the
ground. (jumping jacks) The players continued to jump on their end of the
board until one of them fell off or were hurt.
Softball, volleyball, swings, slides and seesaws were some of the more
At our annual fall school carnival, we had penny pitch, ring toss, bean bag
toss, basketball pitch, bingo, cakewalk and a box supper auction. There was
a sideshow (freak show) with Glenn and I as Siamese twins with each of us
in the leg of a pair of Pop's large pants. We were really a freakish pair
of twins, with Glenn being a head taller.
Besides skip-day during our senior year. We had what was called Rag-day on
the first part of April. Some of the other schools called it "kids-day" or
"fools-day." They were all appropriate for this occasion. We were all of
these and some of our local merchants had some less complimentary terms for
us. It was a day in which all of the seniors dressed in old clothes and
went to all of the class rooms, to sing our special song. Which went
something like, "Hallelujah, I'm a bum, Hallelujah, bum again, Hallelujah
give us a handout and revive us again."
Most of the merchants gave us candy, potato chips, cookies, money or some
form of a treat (just about anything, to get rid of that God awful
singing). Some of the boys were hoping that Pop would give us some spirits,
but one look told pop that we were having enough fun without his spirits.
So we settled for some candy and gum and headed for the Bluff, where we
toured the courthouse, Pepsi bottling plant and other points of interest
before returning home tired, happy and full of junk food.
Away from school we played Annie, Annie over, hide and seek, kick the can,
drop the handkerchief and make believe/pretend (which we called play-like).
Parlor games were: pleased or displeased, musical chairs, teddly winks, I
spy, monopoly, spin the bottle, post-office and Simon Said. (a Drill
Sergeant at Ft. Lawton, Washington obtained his work details with Simon
said and it didn't take long) there was always someone who wanted to tell
ghost stories. Some of the kids at home roller-skated with just one skate,
it was rare to see them with two on, sort of a mini-scotter.
The younger girls played jacks (ball and jacks) hopscotch, jump-rope,
dress-up, playhouse and they all loved to cut out and dress paper dolls.
The girls that couldn't afford to buy the paper dolls would cut them out of
the Sears catalogue, by locating a model and clothes in the same position.
(standing, sitting, etc.)
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Styles Back Then
Some of the girls wore dresses that were made from the print material that
flour, sugar and feed sacks were made of. The girls wore a taffeta dress
when they wanted to get all silked-up for a special social function. Most
of the girls wore their hair in pigtails or the very kinky permanent.
(rollers were not used at this time) a few of the mothers used rags for the
long Shirley Temple curls. Most of the ladies wore their hair in a shingle
bob, club cut or finger waves. Earrings were called ear bobs at this time.
All the girls wore anklets and some of the older girls wore them over their
hose. (all of the hose had seams) This looked a little strange, but was
very sexy. Very few of the ladies wore garter belts. Most of them wore the
simple garter band. Female panties were called step-ins. Some of the older
girls carried their mad money (a dollar bill) tucked under the top of their
hose. None of the girls ever left home without a few coins tied in one
corner of a ladies handkerchief. One of the girls carried her mad money and
lipstick in her well endowed bosom, which made for hot money and darn near
melted her lipstick. A number of the girls wore ankle chains. The girls and
their mothers would shine their patent leather shoes with a half of a
All of the boys used Brilliantine hair-oil in their youth. Wild rose hair-
oil had the consistency of a very fine mineral oil and was bright red in
color. Years later we used Brylcream, Vitalis hair tonic, Wildroot cream
oil, and Old Spice made a thick hair dressing for flat-tops and crew cuts.
Pet expressions & Interesting characters
Most people at home would have had a difficult time communicating, without
their down-home expressions. Instead of thank you they would say, "much
obliged." Some of their parting shots were, "I'll see you later, if the
lord is willing and the creek don't rise, see you in the funny papers,
don't take any wooden nickels or see you in the zoo." Claudie McClure, (4
April, 1934-23 Feb. 1999) has a current one that I really like it's, "Keep
your plow in the ground." Pop had a few hundred of them and some of them
would part your hair. One of his pet expressions was bull-corn, if he
disagreed with someone A couple of Pop's expression I got a kick out of
were, "He's about half goofy" for someone that wasn't very swift and "He's
drunker than Cooter Brown" for someone drunker than a hoot owl. The ethnic
jokes were Irish (Pat and Mike), little moron, little Johnny and the
farmers daughter, during my youth. There were hundreds of them.
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