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Memories of Concord School, Fairplay, KY, 1909
My father, Earnest Bennett, was born in Fairplay in 1905 and moved to Indianapolis in the 1920s. He continued to love and visit Adair County all of his life. While going through some old photos, I found a picture, dated 1909, made of the Old Concord School, which was south of Fairplay. He and his siblings attended there. At that time the school met in the Old Concord Methodist Church. Later, it moved to a new building nearby and was called Walnut Grove School. Dad identified all of the students with some family information as well. It contains many family names of folks who still reside in Adair County. --LaRue Bennett
By Earnest LaRue Bennett, Sr., from "Notes on My Life"
When my sister was six years old she started to school. I was four and I started with her. In later years I told her that I had to go along to take care of her.
Our first three years of schooling were in the Concord Methodist Church, an old log building in a clearing of a big woods about a mile from our home. There was a door in one end and three small windows on each side. The seats were long benches made of wide boards and no desks. A sheet iron stove made the heat. The benches were moved around the stove where we sat to keep warm. I remember the big girls held me and another little boy on their laps some of the time. He was Crawford McClister, who had lost his mother and he came with his sister and brother. There were 23 pupils. Our first teacher was Miss Minnie Morrison. She boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Young. The parents of these children hired and paid this teacher's salary. The next year's teacher was Miss Hattie Bradshaw.
During our third year of school, John Bennett gave about one acre of wooded ground for a new school house which was about 1 1/2 miles from our house. My father and most of the other fathers in the area built a new one room school house.
There was a big bell on the top of the house, and we had new double seats with desks and ink wells. All of us boy were glad to carry a bucket of water in when needed. There was only one dipper and all drank from it. (o-oh!) Later we had a water tank with a faucet and each child had to have their own cup.
At that time, the county was paying the teacher's salary, and there were about 35 pupils at the beginning of the new school year. The attendance would dwindle to about 20 before the year was over. I always felt sorry for a family of children, particularly for the almost grown ones. The would come the first day of school with new clothes and new books, but had never learned to read. When it was time to recite their lessons, they would have to stand up with the little first year kids. The reason for this was that they usually would come every day for the first week or two, miss several days for the next few weeks, then quit altogether.
My brothers, Forest and Jesse, joined Gladys and I as they grew old enough. Most kids carried their lunch to school. Our mother would pack ours in a large oblong willow basket that a lady in the neighborhood had made for us. There would be biscuits, sausage or ham, sweet potatoes, fried apples, blackberry jam, or pie. It sure would smell good when we took the linen cover off the food. We would usually spread our lunch on one of the many big stumps in the school yard.
School was only six months long, starting the second week in July when most of the crops had been laid by and wheat cut. Then school would be over before the bad winter set in. School opened at 8:00 AM, lunch at 12:00 noon for one hour, another half hour recess at 3:00PM, home at 4:00PM. Most of the teachers encouraged us to play hard at recess. We played such games as town ball, stealing sticks, and ante-over. The boys would sometimes play Bear in the Big Woods. One boy would be the bear, when he could catch another boy, the other boy became the bear. One of the fun tricks was to climb a tall, slim tree. When the bear climbed after him and both were near the top, the boy at the top would swing the tree to bend over to the ground where he would jump off. Without his weight, the tree would fly up straight, taking the "bear" with it. We never had anyone get hurt.
Most every Friday afternoon we would have a spelling bee, which involved all the students in school. It was a great time and we had many good spellers.
All of our teachers were good, some better, even though some had only the equivalent of an eighth grade education. If anyone wanted to teach, they could go to the county seat, take an examination, and if they passed, they could come back and teach at our school.
We Bennett kids loved school and tried to go every day. There was no free high school in the county, and there was no money for us to go away to boarding school.
LaRue says that his father, Earnest Bennett, "had a great memory of people and their families in the whole area around Fairplay. When we would come down, we would have to make at least 20-25 stops to visit everyone - friends and family. I can remember visiting one of the teachers back in the 1950s, Hattie Bradshaw. Dad was a great promoter of education and emphasized that I had to continue mine into college - no options! Even though he did get a good foundation education in the one room school, he never went beyond the eighth grade, except for some correspondent work. However, he became a superintendent of a brush company here [in Indianapolis] and later a research engineer, designing brushes for specific business needs and building the machines to make them. This was quite an accomplishment for limited education."
This story was posted on 2022-01-10 15:47:54
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