Charlene Robertson on Betty and Jerry and Ned Graham on Silver as they get ready to ride.


Mrs. Hildred Shup was a teacher at Prairie Ridge country school.




I called Charlene (Robertson) Harmes when I learned that there was to be a series of articles from the historical museum regarding bygone one-room schools in Cowley County.  Charlene sent me pictures and notes from her mother, Lorita Robertson, that brought back a lot of memories.

The Graham boys Ted, Ned and Jerry, attended Prairie Ridge in the mid-1940s. The school was about two miles from our farm in Liberty Township. If we ever walked, it was because we couldn't catch Silver, who was the meanest horse in the township. It took two of us to get the bridle on him, one to put on the bridle, and the other to push Silver off your foot while you did it. You really couldn't blame him because he knew the next thing would be that all three of us would get on and head off to school. Jerry, being the youngest, had to ride on the far back end. He would fall off the back frequently, both from inattention and sometimes being pushed. Well, what are little brothers for? When well reached the school, there was an open lean-to shed complete with individual stalls for the horses.

Anyway, if it was cold, the, teacher - one year was Hildred Shup, the next was Lois Hardin - would be building a fire in the coal stove. There was an overhead electric light but no running water.

We had a well pump outside with a bucket and a single cup that everyone drank out of. Nobody wanted to drink after Martha because it was rumored she had cooties.

The school was one big room with a long bench at the front where each grade went to "recite." I remember one semester, I was the only one in the fifth grade. That was the only time I was the smartest kid in my class.

There were two privies, both outside of course. They were pretty fancy in that that they were both "two holers"

The Coon boys, Kenneth, Don and Shorty, all had horses, One was called Flicka; the other two were various expletives, depending on the situation. Their horses were all faster than Silver, except when he was headed for the barn - then it was hang on and hope there were no clotheslines!

Then there was Chailene with her tantalizing red pigtails. She had a horse named Betty who could dance and count to 10. That was way better than Jerry could do.

We had the Shelton girls, Mary, Phyllis and a little sister nobody paid any attention to. They could really sing though. We had the Branson boys, Joe and Charlie, the Andes boys, Gary and Donnie, their sister Vickie; Lois Luce, Bob Buell, Eugene Cole and Dorothy, Junior and Barbara Coggins and others I'm having trouble remembering. Jerry and Donna Johnson and Glenda Chase were in the mix somewhere.

We had a softball team, co-ed of course. We regularly beat up on Frog Hollow, Eaton and Tisdale. Bob Buell didn't have a mitt, so he just used his winter gloves.

We played "Andy Over" at recess. Half of us would stand on one side of the schoolhouse, half on the other, and throw a ball over. If you caught the ball, you could run around to the other side and throw the ball trying to hit someone. You could be sure that if Barbara Coggins hit you, it was going to leave a mark. Today they would have to wear pads and helmets and have a referee and T-shirts.

Box suppers were a big thing. You had to cheat and steal peeks to find out which basket Charlene brought. Then you started bid­ding, and money was no object because if you won the basket, you got to hold her hand. Also, if you were suave and dashing, you might get to ride in the back of the pickup to the outdoor movie in Dexter on Saturday night and hold her hand again (or Juanita Coon's).

We learned a lot outside school, including different things to smoke, including pulverized gunny sack and corn silk.

I guess our time there was interesting and enriching, but I don't care to do it again.