Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Mary Ellen Vallonia Robards Ridgway, C. W., Mary Jane and Maggie Nora ca. 1870
 The Bullitt County News   March 8, 1907 BN  The Children’s Corner 

My First School 

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. 

The Bullitt County News 3/15/1907 The Children’s Corner

My First Speech

At the close of my first school the scholars were all required to get speeches to recite the last day of school. I had learned very well and had got as far as baker in my spelling book and could recite a little in my First Reader. So it was decided that I should have a speech. They had some trouble to find one the suit me and a good deal more trouble in learning it to me. I must make a bow when I begin and one when I closed and must speak out.

Now a little fellow that will do just as you told him is a funny thing.. So I made up my mind to speak it according to directions. You can see now how I am going to get into it. After a number of scholars had spoken I was called upon to speak.. I took my place upon the floor but felt a little nervous when the people all looked at me.  They all seemed perfectly composed until I made my first bow, when a little blushing smile ran over the audience and the faces before me continued to redden while I spoke which reached its height when I made my first bow.  I knew I was doing something curious, but I did not know what it was. Now I had followed the directions a little to closely for my own good. They all thought I had said my speech real well, except that I had bowed a little too low; I spoke out too loud and stood with my feet most too wide apart, so if you want my picture, you can take a little stuffy, dark complected fellow in tight clothes in that position, and doing things with a vengeance and you have it. Oh yes! I promised to tell you what my speech was. I am a little ashamed of it, but I will tell it;

See the chickens ‘round the gate,
For their morning portion wait
Throw some crumbs and scatter seeds
And the hungry chickens feed;
Call them; Oh! How fast they run,
Gladly, quickly, every one.

You are ready to ask: “Did anyone else speak?” Yes, almost all the scholars. But the one that interested me most next to my own was “uncle” Dave Harris. He was much older than myself and being a good student and a fine speaker, he said his speech well. He had a lengthy speech about a sly fox that wanted to rob a hen roost. Now “uncle” Dave was so graphic and so real in his description that the scene seemed  actually happening right there before us. We could see the fox so plain when he was trying to get through that tight crack in the hen house that I almost got him by the tail. But when he got in and “uncle” Dave began to describe the havoc he was causing inside, I could hardly stand it.

That was my first condition (?) and things seemed so real, but I was delighted when the fox tried to come out and could not come out. He had grown larger since he went in and I remember seeing the old farmer kill him with almost as much reality as if it was actually happening right there before me.

All this was years ago and yet it is as fresh in my memory as it was then. C.W.R.

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