Monday, September 24, 2012

Country School Surprises

Here's My Hillbilly's weekly contribution to my little corner of the blogosphere:

In continuing with my grade school days, when I look back with a mature eye and compare those days to the present, I am amazed at several things.  First, modern children are coddled, protected, and treated in such a way to supposedly make them feel more confident in their abilities --- whether they have them or not!  For instance, in my school days, at recess, two of the best athletes would choose up teams to play a sport.  If you were young or not very good, you would be the last one chosen.  It was not surprising to you if you were chosen last.  You realized that those doing the choosing were trying to put together a team that was more likely to win.  And yes, we wanted the team that we were on to win.  Yes, we kept score, and we knew who won.  We knew when we won or when we lost.  If we lost we wouldn’t have expected trophies.

Oh!  Sometimes we played tackle football without pads or helmets!  Maybe that is what is wrong with my brain!

Not actually The Hillbilly but a reasonable facsimile

In looking back, I realized that there weren’t very many of us children from the country schools that played organized sports.  Actually from the school I attended, I remember very few.  Part of that may have come from the fact that organized sports were in the city and we were in the country.  We were only moved into the city schools after we completed the eighth grade.  Part of that may have come from children being involved in farm work, or the fact that the country children’s parents had never been that involved in those kinds of activities.

For instance, there were people involved with Little League Baseball that came to our school and asked if any of us were interested in playing.  There were only two of us that said that we were and our teacher acted angry because we said that we were.  Really, in all the time I played organized sports, I can think of very few from any of the country schools that did so.  However, I did notice where you had rural communities with their own high schools (many times first through twelfth grade were in one location), they were more involved.

 I played Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball until I turned sixteen.  I didn’t play high school baseball, even though those who were, tried to talk me into it.  I played basketball off and on through high school.  The football coaches, players, and some family members really tried to get me to play football.  Actually, that sport would probably have been closer to my experience of wrestling cattle and dodging bulls and such.  But, I had no interest and my parents really didn’t want me to anyway.
Football practice?

Sports were not very high on my family's list.  They rarely came to my games and I really didn’t have all that much backing to play.  I had the physical talent to be a much better athlete than I was. In fact, in the ninth grade, coaches told me, that I could very possible get a college basketball scholarship.  That kind of thing doesn’t happen when the only time you touch a basketball is during the season.

Another thing about country school was that with most teachers, the teacher ran what went on inside the school but rarely came outside.  Older and larger children ran and kept the peace on the outside.   By the seventh grade, I was in control.  Most of the time, I controlled what games we played and how we played them.  I actually was taken from school from the fifth grade on to purchase our sports equipment. Fast pitch softball was our main sport.  I pitched, managed, and coached our fast pitch softball team from the sixth grade through the eighth grade.  That is the only sport we played against other schools.  Of regular sports, we played a little bit of basketball and volleyball.  Other than that we played various types of tag – bear around the corner, dare base, chicken and hen, and one unnamed tag where everyone who was tagged became an additional chaser.  With it, eventually you wound up with about eighteen chasers all chasing one person.  You could really get in good shape!
Chicken and Hen?
Bear around the corner? 

Another surprising thing is that we older children did some of the upkeep.  For instance, in the seventh grade, while school was going on I would climb up on whatever was tall enough to replace fluorescent light bulbs.

We had an attic over our lunchroom.  It had an outside entrance that was about twelve feet off the ground.  At different times of the year, I would be climbing up a ladder to bring down desks or to put desks or other equipment away.  I imagine parents and school officials would be freaking out about such things today.

Another surprising thing was the trust that was put in many of us.  For instance,  I mentioned in one of my prior posts, the bus driver dropping us off at a closed and deserted school.  Or, (for example), as Christmas drew near, sending out some of us older boys with an axe and saw, ( possible weapons that I brought in), to tromp around on the nearby farms to find the largest and most perfect cedar tree we could find.  Of course regardless of where we found it, we always got back just before school was out.  We older students would decorate it the next day.
Children with Deadly Weapons

 Or, (as another example) when the military had war games in our area, bridges being bombed with flour, etc.  Children were picking up blank bullets, (many not fired), and other armament.  People from the military came to the school and explained how this could be dangerous.  They suggested that all the children bring this stuff in for it to be buried.  The students brought them in, and the teacher gave it to me, (the physically largest student), for disposal.  Hm!
Speaking of Deadly Weapons!

Okay, I buried them.

Things were definitely different in that time and that place.  Is it better now?  You would have to judge.  I see some improvement in some areas but feel that in other ways, things have changed to the detriment of our children.

From the Hillbilly’s Corner!  

Maybe children are over-protected these days, but still. I think we could get soldiers to bury their own used rounds. Just sayin'.