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We lived right
across the road, of course, from the school. Our school was a three room.
[Note: The brick school was built in 1906. At that time, John F. Yeasting,
Emerson’s grandfather served on the school board.] One room had
first, second, and third grade; the next room had fourth, fifth and sixth;
and then the other room had seventh and eighth. Now the school was laid out
so that you had a folding doorway that would open up and make the fourth through
eighth grades into one great big room which we did for PTAs and so on. The
other rooms were at the back, kind of added on. The other room, rather, that
had the first three grades, that was kind of added on. We had outdoor privies
and a pump out back where you could go to get a drink of water if you had
I remember all my teachers quite well, of course, mainly Mr. Van Horn. William H. Van Horn was a teacher, an attorney and counselor. He was kind of the man the whole community looked up to. He ran the school. He was the principal as well as a teacher, and I had him for seventh and eighth grades. I left there in '33. I graduated from the eighth grade there.
My Dad had gone to school at the same school and with the same teacher, Mr. Van Horn. By that time – Dad was on the school board at the time. And my Dad, incidentally, went through the eighth grade there, seventh and eighth under Van Horn and then went one extra year under Van Horn because he had no way to get to a high school. So he went one extra year and Van Horn taught him things like algebra and calculus and other things. You know, one student class and on the side. And then from there Dad went directly on to college, Ohio Northern University. He skipped high school, you might say, entirely, except for that one year that Van Horn gave him. I have a transcript of Dad's college education, too, which Roma [Roma Edith Yeasting Abbott] got a hold of a few months ago and sent me a copy of it. And it's quite interesting, the various courses he took and so on over the several years.
What did we do at school for fun? Well, several things. Among us boys, ‘Indy I Over’ was one. Now you've got to remember this had a peaked roof on the school, a slate roof. Indy I Over meant we chose up sides, one side on one side of the school and one on the other, and you threw the ball over the school. You had to clear the top, and whoever caught it got to throw it back. And I forget how the rest of the game worked, but it was a lot of fun. We also did stick hockey where kids – we would find an appropriate stick in the woods somewhere on a limb and cut it off. That was our hockey stick, and a tin can became our puck. That would get pretty well smashed up. We played this winter and summer outdoors.
Bad weather?– well, there was ‘mumbly peg.’ Every boy carried a jackknife back then because you had to back then on the farm. You had to use them. So we played a lot of mumbly peg because the floor in the building was oiled wood, very dark, oiled wood, and the jackknife stuck beautifully. [The object of mumbly peg was to toss the knife so it stuck in the floor, point down as close as possible to the mark.] We also played a lot of marbles inside. Rolled them back and forth, trying to get the other guy's aggie and so on. We played marbles outdoors quite a bit, too, with circles and the thumb deal. I forget what you call that. Let's see. Trying to think if there were any other games. I can't think of any offhand.
Girls, well, they played mostly tag or Ring Around the Rosy, a lot of jump rope. I recall, I think a few of them even got into the marbles. And then they had races and so on. Every spring on May 1st we'd have a big Maypole dance. And I'd been practicing for that, of course, for months. The teacher had us out there working on it.
PTA was always a big thing, quite different than PTAs today. Back in those days, that was the social event of the month. And we always looked forward to it because along the middle of the afternoon – it was always on a Friday night. Well, that Friday, Mr. Van Horn would have some of the bigger boys open the big doors, and we'd set up a stage which was a portable made of pieces like plywood and stuff nailed together on wooden horses, and a wire was strung around. There were some holes in the wall or screw eyes for that purpose, and the black drapes, as I recall. They were a kind of a cloth, and you slid them back and forth manually. That was our stage.
At every PTA, we would have – you'd see frequently a spelling bee, especially among the fourth, fifth and sixth graders where the teachers would see who could win. This was for the entertainment of the parents. Frequently, a group of parents would have gotten together and practiced and put on a little play, a skit. Sometimes the students did it. I can still remember some of those plays. One in particular was a minstrel show, and I remember my Dad burning cork at home or Mom [Edith Marie Schlea Yeasting] burning cork to help him get dressed with the black face. And he was Rastus, as I recall, in that. Quite interesting. [Note: According to the Rollersville portion of the History of the Gibsonburg Area, Rufus Rastus was performed at the dedication of the school.]
Of course, we had a piano. Fern Leffingwell, who was the mother of one of the kids in my class, Helen Leffingwell, she was piano player, so she would play the piano. And, of course, the Golden Rule or Golden Song Books, whatever they were called, were all passed out ahead of time on the desks, and we'd sing songs like ‘Polly Waddle Doodle All The Day,’ ‘Susanna’ [by Stephen Foster], ‘Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair’ [by Stephen Foster], ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ – ‘God Bless America’ hadn't been written at that time [by Irving Berlin written in 1918 but not used or published until 1938]– ‘America the Beautiful’ [by Katherine Lee Bates], ‘My Darling Nellie Gray’ [by Benjamin Russell Hanby]. This was, you know, a community sing. And then Mr. Van Horn would make a few announcements, maybe, on what some of the kids were doing at school, but there was no parent/teacher conferencing or anything like that. They didn't know about those in those days. Then after the meeting, why, everybody goes to the basement which was a two-room deal. One room had the big furnace, and I forget what else … oh, kitchen kind of type of thing, and then we'd go down there and have a potluck dinner. Women would have been assigned different things, and it was a potluck dinner. And everybody got home about, oh, probably nine, nine-thirty – well, those that lived close by. Those that lived three, four miles away took a little longer because a lot of them went by buggy in those days. But that was kind of my… what the school was like when I was growing up, first through eighth grades.
Virginia [Virginia “Ginny” Ann Yeasting LeGrand, Emerson’s oldest sister] came along three years later. I also remember I had an aunt, my Aunt Ruth [Ruth Naomi Yeasting Reed], Dad's youngest sister, was an eighth grader the year that I was a first grader, so there were two Yeastings in school at that time.
Well, let's see what else I can think of there. Oh, one thing I remember, a few days before the eighth grade graduation ceremony Dad took me into town into Gibsonburg to Feehrmeyer's, which was the clothing store ran by Otto Feehrmeyer, and told Otto, "I want you to fix the boy up with a pair of trousers." And boy, did I light up. That was going to be my first pair of long trousers. Up ‘til then I always wore knickers. But Dad figured since I was going to be going to high school, it was time that I had long pants. I remember how proud I was of those pants. And that was pretty much the same for all of them.