There were five of us in my grade, the all time biggest class at Acker School, because we were the war babies (born 1946). There was one year that Judy and I were the only girls in the school which probably had 16 to 25 kids the years I attended.
I think they installed indoor plumbing a year or two after I started. Until then, we lined up at the two outhouses after recess. There was a time when I was probably in first grade that I decided I needed to go to the bathroom during school. I remember doing the job and starting back to the building. Who knows why (I do remember it was a sunny warm day), but I decided to just swing a little before going back in. It wasn’t long before someone (probably one of the older kids) came out looking for me. I don’t remember getting in trouble, but I was so humiliated that I didn’t do it again.
It was a cool swing, though, homemade and probably at least 20 foot high. The rumor was that someone in years past swung so high that the person sailed right over the top. No one could ever confirm it. It would be a circus act, but we all believed.
The swing was by the merry-go-round, which was one of those that you could sit on while a person in the middle pushed. A kid was always flying off that thing, I know I did. You only did that once, though. Unless you were sitting backwards and intended to see how far you would sail when you let go. The worst thing you could do is trip while in the middle pushing. There is a reason that type of merry-go-round is no longer in playgrounds.
Then there were the wooden titter-totters. You could only do so much of the up and down thing, especially when some smart-alecky kid would jump off when you were in the up position. I don’t think they are in playgrounds anymore either. Half the fun, though, was to walk up the board, stand in the middle balanced, and do anything to show off.
That was about it for the playground equipment. We played games at recess. I’ve been trying all day to remember what they were called. There was the old favorite, Kick the Can, Endyiover (no clue how it’s spelled) but it involved throwing a ball over the coal shed and then running around and hitting people with the ball, workup softball, and one that involved people running back and forth through lines and of course, slapping people on the back.
School Lunches and Scooters
Acker School is a beautiful native limestone building located on Hwy 18 about six miles west of Junction City. There have been occupants since the school closed May 17, 1963. The current owners are interested in bringing back some of the original architecture. I will take a picture to post the next time we go by.
I was lucky in that the school was only a half mile from our farm. We walked to school, and Mom took us in bad weather, but our pride and joy was a Cushman scooter. While my brother was still in school (he is five years older) I rode behind. After he graduated, it was all mine. Occasionally I jumped on the scooter and rode home for dinner. However, when I did that, I missed the noon recess—the longest of the day. I took my lunch a lot of the time.
The lunches sat on a shelf in the coatroom. My lunchbox was the regular black open from the top variety. Dan and his brothers brought theirs in a lard can, which I thought were especially cool. My favorite lunch was peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich, apple and a cookie. My friend Carolyn always had Jello--Mom and I were never that organized. When the weather cooperated, we ate on the front porch. When I ask Dan his memory of eating lunch, it was the same as mine. One family of five often brought homemade angle food cake. Two of the boys (twins) would take the piece of cake and mash it up in a tight little ball before they ate it. Of course, we all would say,” ahhhhhhh, why did you do that," which is why they did it.
One time I talked my Mom into letting me put Pepsi in a thermos for lunch. It was about mid morning when there was a very loud explosion out in the coat room. It was my thermos. The noise was a result of my Pepsi’s carbonation and the fact that it was gradually warming. It was as if a small bomb exploded and sticky pop was all over everything.
We only wore nice clothes (dresses for the girls) twice a year; the first day of school and when Miss Roether came to give our yearly achievement tests. I am not sure which occasion it was, possibly the first day of school because I remember it was warm. I had on my prerequisite dress while riding the scooter to school. Everyone was outside so I felt the need to show off a little. I rounded the corner into the school yard a little too fast, the scooter hit loose gravel and down I went. Luckily, I only received a skinned knee, a ripped out dress and a bruised ego.
Acker School district was probably not much more than a three mile radius. Dan lived two and a half miles away; there were several a little further. Around 1958 another small school was consolidated with ours, but even then no one traveled much more than four miles.
The school building served as a community meeting place, so we had “community meetings” periodically. It doesn’t seem it was as often as once a month, but several times a year. The one program that I can almost see in my mind’s eye is the magician from Junction City that came once a year. By today’s standards, he might not have been that good, but all of us farm kids thought he was wonderful. I think we had musical groups also but they did not leave an impression like pulling a bird from a hat. The schoolhouse was also the meeting place for the Blueline 4-H club (not to worry, I won't get started on 4-H).
The Christmas program was our production. We had a stage and curtains that went all the way across. The big thing was who got to pull the curtains. We worked very hard on our songs, skits and recitations. Everyone had to do something. Usually, it was just a little two or three line poem, but one year I did “The Night Before Christmas.” That was huge for me. I made it through. Two of our teachers were very musical. Those years we did lots of songs. After the program we received sacks of candy and fruit.
I can’t let the school memories go without telling about our fast pitch soft ball team. Each rural school in the county had a team. We had what you might call a league now. We all played each other at least once, usually on Friday afternoon. As I said earlier, Acker had a lot of boys, including Dan. Consequently, we had one of the best softball teams—at least that’s how both Dan and I remember it!