Friday, December 21, 2007


Here is another story about attending a one room country school. So, this is about what we did to celebrate Christmas there. I really wish I pictures for this story. But, cameras at that time were very simple and only worked, outside in the sunlight.
Everyone anticipated Christmas as soon as school started in the fall. The Annual Christmas Party was the main community event all year, not only for we kids. But, for the grown ups as well. When it was time, someone would go get the school Christmas tree. Sometimes it would come from property of my Dad's. It would have been located and tagged during good weather. Then either my Dad, Mr. L. Or my Uncle Hi would go cut it down and take it to our school, help the boys make a stand for it and set the tree up. The tree was always a fir, 8 maybe 9 Ft. Usually a silvertip. They are the prettiest and have even branch growth. The needles last longer too. Easy to decorate, All of the kids would have been cutting and making yards of paper chains in red and green, some in basic colors. It's neat because the little ones can do that too. We did have some of the lovely glass balls . Made by Shiny Brite. Shiny silvery lead icicles, ( I never ever knew anyone who ate them. Or knew someone who knew someone who had eaten the lead icicles.) Four lengths of silvery tinsel rope and a very nice star for the top. I believe we did on one occasion try to make popcorn and cranberry strings. However they were too tedious and boring. So, we demurred on that embellishment. We would make paper ornaments too, to help fill in between the glass balls. Cutouts or paper folded. Paper snowflakes are quite lovely on a tree. We hadn't electricity. So, no lights. I'm trying remember if My Dad and Hiram L. may have fixed up a battery set one year. Only used on the party night. There were always some balls broken some how. There was a cotton snow skirt to cover the base. We were up in scale from Little House Wilder books. Our families had good incomes. But, it was country. For the school room decorations, we had paper chains, in red, white and green, draped everywhere they could be hung. Cut outs of snow men, Santa Claus, Angels, Stars and a few paper snowflakes, oh, and paper candy canes. After that we would concentrate on the play that we had selected and would perform for the Christmas Program and Party, for all the parents and relatives that would attend our Christmas performance. We always began our rehearsals right after Thankgiving so we would be well practiced in our roles. The play was the main presentation. The Core part of the program. We always did a real play. Not that pseudo pageant other schools did. One's Faith was left private. So, we observed a 'separation of church and state' form.Because of course we still had our real curricula to study. Right now the only plays I am able to recall are: Dicken's Christmas Carol, an abridged version of course. The Bird's Christmas Carol and Mr. Murphy's Sunday Best Trousers. Mr. Murphy was a comedy. The first I think. But, we always chose a play that would be fun. And all of we kids liked doing a play. 'We' were 'actors'.
Besides play, which was the centerpiece of our program, we also included Chridtmas cariling and some recitations. Our party lasted about two or three hours. We began at 8:pm and it went to 10:pm. Or perhaps longer for some.
Because farmers and ranchers had chores to do. My Dad was a Lumberman. So our family didn't have those early hours to contend with. Except when school was on.
First the teacher would announce the program for the evening. There would be a recitation. Then there would be Caroling Time. Between 3 or 4 songs, I think. The entre-act would be held to allow some of the final staging for the play, to be set up.
The desks would all be shoved back against the north wall. The desk chairs lined up for seating. The adults sat in front on the chairs. Guest kids sat in back on the desks.
There were chintz or cretonne curtains on a line in front. About three feet from the front row.

Finally the teacher would call everyone to order. The program would begin. First we sang carols. Everyone liked singing and joined in with we kids as we sang.
Some of our favorites were: Hark, the Harald Angels', Silent Night, Good King Wenceslas, O' Little Town Of Bethlehem, of course: 'Jingle Bells'. A have to have. And several others. Very the likely singing began with -'bells'.
Then the play was presented. You know, it was just a school play, fairly amateur.
But, it was really enjoyed. Our relatives and friends would get into the story we were telling. And we all seem to have a good sense of timing, the reactions all came when they ought. And the laughs, wholehearted. We were just people. But, everyone liked a well told tale. Not one person ever made snide remark. Or talked to us when we were performing. There are professional road troupes out there, that are not so fortunate.
After the play was over, we had our bows to appreciative applause. Then, the stage area cleared. The curtains pulled out of the way. Food to be set up, to give time for who ever was going to be Santa Claus, could slip out and change. The Santa would usually be either: my Dad, My Uncle Hi or Mr. Lorenzen. We kids weren't sure. because several of the men had slipped out on errands. Magic.
The boys were appointed to help Santa pass out the gifts. To the Adults too. They had drawn names. Each child received one present from their family. But the boys had drawn names too, because there were more of them. There were only four girls and we all exchanged presents. Usually books. Because we all liked to read. I always asked my parents for books for my school gift. Also, that way nothing was better than anyone else's. All of the kids, no matter age, received a Christmas Stocking filled with hard Christmas candy , an apple and an orange in the toe. And nuts too. Filberts, pecans, walnuts and Brazil Nuts. Yummy.
After the presents were handed out and opened. The food all have been devoured. Boys, you know. Then the cleanup. Desks put back in their places. The fire in the furnace put out. When things seemed in order. Everyone would go home. A good time had by all.

And we kids had two marvelous weeks off.
The picture on top is the books I received as 'Santa' gifts at the school Christmas. I show eight. Four from my parents. Two are from girls ,I traded gifts with.


Anonymous said...

reminds me of our one room school in the logging camp, I was the oldest student of the 10 or so in the school, and the teacher paid me $5.00 a month to keep the blackboard clean, sweep the school, and keep the fire going by cutting and bringing in the firewodd for the stove standing in the middle of the room. Those were happy days, back in the early 1930's. LC

LauraHinNJ said...

What wonderful simple memories! Thank you for sharing some of what it was like for you growing up at Christmastime. I'm amazed with the details you remember!