I was the oldest in a family of seven children, and after I began to arrive at the age of six years, it was a question of some importance as to how I was to be sent to school; we lived 1 ½ miles from the school house and no children came our way, so some plan had to be devised for me to have company. Now I had a cousin Joe who was a large boy and a fine manly fellow. So my Papa proposed to board him if he would go to school from our house and he let me go with him. He gladly accepted the offer. So the time came to go. I had looked forward to the time with a great deal of pleasure until the time actually came, and I began to feel curious about leaving home. I remember my Mama had fixed us a good dinner in a little new split basket. Fried pies, eggs, lean meat, preserves, etc., which was a great inducement to me (I being a greedy little fellow). Now my papa had supplied me with a new blue back spelling book in my hand and 7 nice marbles in my pocket and dressed in a nice clean suit that was rather small for me, we actually started for school, cousin Joe and I. I started off rather reluctant and when I got half way across a little meadow in front of the house, I began to slow up and like a Texas pony, I came to a standstill and refused to go any farther. Joe tried to persuade me to come on and told me about the good dinner in the basket and the fun we would have at school. But not an inch would I move. Joe finally called to Papa that I would not go. He came out in the yard and told me that I must go on. I still refused, when he picked up a switch and started down there. I then started on in a little trot, crying as I went. I followed on and we finally got to school. I would describe the school house and surroundings, but it would take too long. The room was filled with scholars of all sizes and ages, from 6 to 25 years. I had not been there long until I began to cry and kept it up at intervals until noon. At noon we sat on the door step and ate our dinner. After dinner the scholars all engaged in school games (the first I had ever seen and which I thought was awful funny). I stood up to cousin Joe and he actually laughed out loud. In the afternoon I did not cry so much and was glad to get home that evening. But the next morning at that same place I balked again with the same proceedings. And ever after when I would come to that same place I would feel like I wanted to stop.
I expect I have said enough for this time. Next week I will tell you what my first speech was and how I said it.
C.W.R. (C. W. Ridgway)