When the school started there were no boundaries as it was the first school in the township. In 1861 there were four school districts in Big Spring Township, and by 1870 that number had grown to 12 school districts. After Sigel township was formed, the Wabash School District was four square miles: Sections 19, 20, 29, and 30.
In the early days, the schoolhouse was a place to have various meetings, and the children would have Christmas plays for the parent's entertainment. There were also times when the schoolhouse would host pie suppers. This is when the girls would bake the pies to be auctioned off, and the boys would buy the pies that were baked by their favorite girls, so they could eat pie with them after the auction. There were also Halloween parties that everyone enjoyed. Some of the teachers would organize the parents to take part in the entertainment with plays, poems, songs and whatever. Whenever an activity would take place at the school house you could be sure that everyone would come and a good time would be had by all.
I have heard my folks, Minor Jr. and Frieda Quicksall, talk of when Guy Storm was the teacher that there was a large group of students who belonged to the 4H Club. They would have something like a small fair at the Wabash School when the kids would bring their projects to display. They would also have tents and side shows that would cost 1 penny to go in or take a chance on a game.
What do I remember about when I went to the Wabash School? I started in 1932, and I remember the school had a row of windows on the east side and two on the north side. The coal furnace was in the northwest corner and it had a steel jacket all around it. I think it did a good job of heating the school. The school seats all faced the south. In the back on the northeast side we hung our coats and caps with our lunch buckets on a bench under the coats.
On a large table on the west side was where the big dictionary and a set of World Book Encyclopedias sat. Along the west wall by the table was a bookcase with glass doors full of books for reading. On the rostrum next to the bookcase was a metal supply cabinet and in the center facing the students was the teacher's desk. On the desk sat a brass bell which the teacher would ring to take up school and to call the students after recess and after lunch.
The slate blackboard reached all the way across the front of the school and about eight feet on the west side. On the east end over the blackboard was a set of big maps that would roll up and down for use. The piano was on the east end of the rostrum.
There were three pictures that hung on the wall in the front of the classroom. One picture was of George Washington, the second was of a tall lady standing in a wheat field holding a syth, and the third was a long picture of a herd of wild horses running with a white stallion leading them. The one with the horses was a beautiful picture.
In the center of the room is where the gasoline lamp hung. It was just used when there were plays and entertainment at night. It lit the room real well. On the north side of the school house was a pump where we got our drinking water. Fastened to the wall on the porch was a long box with a cover on top where everyone could keep their drinking cup. Some kept them on the inside window sill while others had a small folding cup to carry with them or in their lunch bucket. Sometime in the mid 1930s we got playground equipment. We had a slide, swings, hanging rings, a teeter-totter, and a merry-go-round.
Ruth Anderson was my first and second grade teacher. When she was busy and it was a nice day, she would have one of the seventh or eighth grade girls who had their lessons done take us outside and help us with our lessons. We had a music festival at Shelbyville when Miss Ruth was the teacher. The Wabash students sang "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." Some of the students made posters about coming to the music festival. Flora Gordon received first prize and Beulah Quicksall received honorable mention for their posters. Irene Quicksall wrote an English composition on Mozart. I really don't remember if there were more compositions or posters from the Wabash School in the music festival.
In the winter when we had a lot of snow, the teacher would give us an hour for lunch instead of thirty minutes so we could have more time to play. We would all bring our sleds to school and then take them east of John Quicksall's barn where there was a nice long hill in the pasture. Most of the sleds were home-made except for a couple of store-bought ones. John Quicksall's hill was real nice for sledding. After several trips down the hill it was really slick and fast to slide on. One time I was going down head first on Dorothy Madge Allen's store-bought sled. I slid into a crabapple bush which knocked off my airplane cap and cut a gash on top of my head. Miss Ruth had to cut off some hair and put on some iodine. My cut healed fine, but I still have the scare on shiny head 65 years later.
John Quicksall always had a nice big straw stack for his cows to run around all winter. The cows would eat big, deep holes in the straw stack and it was always fun to crawl way back into the holes and dig them a little deeper. We could then cover up with straw when we played hide-and-go-seek. We would also play what we called "Babyball" where we would choose up sides. The bases were the telephone pole and the ditch where the water would run away from the pump. As long as you were on base, you were safe, but if you got hit by the ball while running from one base to the other, you were out. Once in a while the children would talk the teacher into getting a baseball game lined up the either Hiatt or Zalman Schools. It would be played in the afternoon with both boys and girls, large and small; nothing great, but everyone had a great time win or lose.
Sometimes during our lunch breaks in the spring when the wild flowers were in bloom we would go east to the big hill in the woods and pick flowers, swing on grape vines, ride down saplings and run around like wild kids. We had a great time, but the teacher would always have us back at our desks by one o'clock to study.
There were a lot of different games we use to play. I remember only a few games like Hide-and-Seek, Andy-Over, Blind Man's Bluff, Hop Scotch, Fox and Geese, Rotten Egg, and Whipcracker. Most of the time on the last Friday of each month after the last recess, we would play games inside the schoolhouse that the teacher would arrange for us. I think most of us looked forward to that time.
On the last day of class during my second grade year we all met at the school house to get our report cards and any awards that we had earned. Miss Ruth always gave awards for perfect attendance, high grades, etc., and had little treats for most of us. Then we were off to Culver's Woods for the year-end picnic. There we would run up and down the hills and cliffs, looking under rocks for snakes, frogs or whatever. At noon, the mothers would arrive with baskets full of food of which we would all partake. Then we would all gather on the side of the hill to have our picture taken. It was really a great time enjoyed by all. After that, the school would be over for that term.
The next two years Glenn Giesler was our teacher. I believe Wabash School was his first teaching job after graduation from college. I thought he was a good teacher. We had a lot of fun playing ball, but our school yard was too small for baseball. We played a lot of Baby Ball, Andy Over, and all other games. The first year Glenn taught we had a field meet at the Stewardson High School where all the grade schools close to Stewardson met all day and into the evening. There were foot race's, broad jumps, high jumps, pole vaults, and basketball shoots for all grades of boys and girls. Then in the evening the parents came. The boys and girls entertained everyone will songs, music, poems, stories, etc. Everyone had a great time. I think we had another meet the next year as well.
Those were days of hard times. The W.P.A. was doing a lot of work on the roads past the school: cutting trees, digging out stumps, and getting the roads ready for gravel. The gravel pit opened during the Great Depression and the dump trucks were hauling a lot of gravel past the school house for Big Spring, Prairie and Sigel Townships. We had to watch out for the trucks because there were so many and they drove so fast. It was dangerous. It was winter when a lot of this work was going on and the roads were really muddy. I remember one morning Glenn Giesler got his car stuck in the mud and had to leave it and spend the night at our house.
Charles Huffmaster, one of the students, lived quite a ways from school, and he had a pony to ride. In good weather he tied it up in the school yards, and in bad weather he would keep it in Quicksall's barn.
We had several plays at the school house for entertaining the community. Some of the plays were held at night and others for special occasions or holidays, such as Christmas. We also masked up for Halloween and exchanged cards and had a party for St. Valentine's Day. School day parties were usually held after the last recess.
My next teacher was Thelma Dorrit Cable. Mrs. Cable taught for three years. She had a son, Lavern, who also went to school at Wabash. She would board at Dug and Mary Spain's house. Her friend was Mr. Finkeley, who was a salesman and drove a little red coupe with the word "Swift" on the side. He went to different stores taking orders for meat, and the store at Kingman, just north of the school, was on his route.
The pop truck drove past our school every week, and some of the children would shout "Give us some pop" as he went by. One day he did actually stop and give everyone a bottle of pop which surprised us all.
Mrs. Cable was a stern teacher and would not spare the rod if someone broke the rules. Almost everyone got a spanking in front of the other children at one time or another. Some teachers would have the child stand at the blackboard with their nose inside a chalk circle for punishment or stay inside and study during recess or even stay after school. Sometimes the real small children would have to sit under the teacher's desk.
Everyone liked Mrs. Cable as a teacher because she did so much extra. She taught music, arts and crafts, and read stories besides all the regular studies. She was great with plays and we had our own little band. When we had entertainment at night the school house was full as well as the porch outside. Everyone came to see the performance and to visit. I remember when the movies Tom Sawyer, Pinochio, and Snow White came to the theatres, Mrs. Cable had Mr. Finkeldey and some of the parents with cars take us to the movies. This was quite an outing because the movie theatres were either in Effingham or Shelbyville. That was a big treat.
Ruth "Anderson" Manhart was my last teacher at Wabash. We enjoyed having her as our teacher again. We had to study hard as this was our last year in school We had our usual parties at Christmas, Halloween, and St. Valentine's Day. We had a baseball game with the students from the Zalman School. They beat us pretty bad, but it was a lot of fun, anyway. On the last day of school we were off to Culver's woods for the traditional picnic. I believe we always went there when I was in school. A little later we went to Shelbyville with all the other schools of Shelby County for our graduation and received our diplomas.
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