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Seventy-Five Years Ago

Thursday, October 25, 1945

From a Former Teacher

Dear Editor;

It has been my good fortune to have several copies of The Pocahontas Times given to me. They are like a breath of spring after a long dreary winter. When I read them, the years rolled away and I seemed to be a girl once more.

I spent some winters in your county and taught the following schools: Grassy Ridge, three terms; Bartow, Brady or Dry Branch, Cherry Grove, Moore School on Knapps Creek, one term in the Marlinton Graded School, and my last near Watoga in Little Levels District.

I think I can say with truth that I remember all the children who attended my schools in the nineteen years of my teaching experience. What a long list of names if I had time to write them down.

I note in one of the papers that a number of my old pupils are now teaching. Alice Waugh, who was my pupil at Marlinton is one, and I wonder if she remembers me. She was a little fat blond girl and made this remark once to another pupil: “I like my teacher, but she don’t like me.”

However, she made a mistake on that point for I did like every child in my room that winter.

Another one I remember well was Anna Cole. She was a lively little girl, and once when I gave her a high grade on deportment she said, “I don’t deserve a hundred.”

Orda Hill was another one, and she had a twin sister, Lelia. They were pretty little dark eyed girls.

Effie and Mary Moore, daughters of Forrest Moore, were my pupils at Cherry Grove. I think they are also teaching…

The three terms I taught at Grassy Ridge, I boarded with the family of Mr. Banny Burner and I never saw a happier home, always a well filled table, jolly children, never a cross word heard from anyone to the other. What fun we had, and how we enjoyed long walks over the hills in October’s bright blue weather! Happy carefree girlhood. Why is it so fleeting? And what a pity it has to be clouded even for one hour! But, as Longfellow says, “Life is checkered shade and sunshine and now and then there is a ray of sun with its brightness enhanced because of the darkness of the cloud preceding it.”

One incident stands out in my memory, the winter I spent at Bartow and boarded at Mr. Mac Yeager’s. The snow was so deep one morning that I was forced to ride horseback to school and Mr. Yeager went ahead and led the horse. Every little bit, the horse would sink down till I thought we would both be buried, but I don’t think I was in the least frightened, I knew the horse was in no danger of either trotting or galloping.

Another extremely happy winter was spent on Dry Branch when I boarded with Clark Sharp’s family. We had a revival that winter in the little white school house and I can hear those hymns yet. We had spelling schools and really enjoyed everything. The weather never whipped us out.

One very interesting family in that community was Mr. Sam Beale’s. There were nine boys and one girl. The oldest boy was in his early twenties, the youngest a baby of two. Five of them went to school that winter. Two of their sons have taught school. All ten of these children are living and not one has brought disgrace to their parents.

We must not forget County Supt. B. B. Williams, who always rode up to our school house “booted and spurred,” looking like an avenging spirit from the lower regions. (If he reads this he will not be offended for he had a strong sense of humor and could enjoy a joke.)

If we had the good luck to see him coming, we would hastily pick up all paper scraps, and see that the children were looking properly meek and studious and we would set our lips school maam fashion and try to look strict and preemptory to the superlative degree. Sometimes when he was safely around the corner, the children let loose the giggles they had suppressed so long, it is a wonder they didn’t have a stroke.

He was a great worker in the schools and accomplished real results even if he did believe in going after things with clinched fists. He gave my school a grade of 97 percent once and said our school house was the cleanest he had seen for some time. I was exalted to the seventh heaven over the grade and the accompanying praise, and felt a charitable pity for another teacher who only got 70 percent. However, it was a man teacher, so probably that is all he deserved….

To my old pupils who are teachers, I give my congratulations and this advice: Forget yourself. Think only of the child. All too soon this boy will be a man. This girl will be a woman. Try to love even the most unlovable child in your room. Model your teaching after that Prince of Teachers who said “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

Leona Pennybacker McGee
Fairmont, W. Va.

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