The Wayne Township Public Schools
They have almost all disappeared now, just like many of the old barns in Wayne Township. A few still remain, but have been remodeled into homes. I know of only three that still exist. They are the schools I attended from 1943 through 1950.
Now and then, I drive by; just to stir my past memories and say "Hello". Why not say "Hello"? Why not show them some respect? They provided my first introduction to the world outside of home. True, it was a small world by today's standards, but a large one for me. The schools were not located in a city or town; they were country schools, attended by hundreds of children through the decades. The three schools I attended taught me to respect and appreciate people of different nationalities and traditions.
The first time I heard children speak a language other than German, was in my first school. The name of that school was; DEBINDERS'. DeBbinders' was a very small school, and already very old, when I began First Grade.
During the first few years at Debinders' students had the priviledge of watching Soldiers in training for World War II. They came from Fort Indiantown Gap, in jeeps, trucks, halftracks and other types of vehicles I can no longer remember. The farmland around DeBinders' was perfect for their training. The terrain was rolling farmland dotted with trees, ditches, creeks and narrow main and secondary dirt roads. They "chewed-up" a lot of farmland, made a lot of dust and noise, but provided the students with entertainment. I've often wondered how many of those young men are now buried in cemeteries throughout Europe?
De Binders' School is located approximately 2.0 miles from the intersection of Route 183 and Route 895. Driving in a Westerly direction will get you there. But, don't look for a school; it has been converted/remodeled into a home. Look for a very small cemetery, on the right side of Route 895.
When I began First Grade at DeBinders" Mr. Ivan MANBECK was our teacher. Having "lost" one of his arms in a farming accident, didn't hinder,him from being a kind, out-standing teacher. DeBinders" School was closed in 1947, when I was ten years old.
The three teachers who taught me, had a great deal of responsibility. They had to teach Grades One through Eight in a one-room schoolhouse, maintain control of all of the students, and accomplish it all, without outside help. Their salaries were never adaquate, and they received little if any recognition for all they accomplished. The teachers were mostly male; but, regardless of their gender, they, like famous educators deserve a memorial.
The second school I attended was, Schweigerts". You can find it, 2.0 miles from DeBinders". Travel west, from DeBinders' and take Moyers Station Road North. Again, do not look for a schoolhouse, or a flag, or children. They have long since gone. This school is now either a home, or a storage area. This school will also be on your right, as you travel North.
Schweigerts' was a much larger school with closets for girls and boys. There was a porch area, and a very large schoolground. Our teacher at Schweigerts' was Mr. Brown. All the older boys roamed far and wide over the farm and small forested areas next to this school. My life is more than three-fourth gone, but, I am still amazed at the amount of exercise we received exploring almost every foot of the land surrounding this school. Schweigerts' school closed in 1958.
The last school I attended was REEDS' school. This school was a little larger than DeBinders'. Our teacher was Mrs. Julian Freed. She was our first female teacher, and my last teacher for grade school. Mrs. Freed put a little culture into our lives. She arranged for milk to be delivered to the school by Guers Dairy Truck. (is that a play on words or what?) She began conducting plays for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mrs Freed also bought song books and put aside time for singing. She encouraged solo singing and tried her best to find a part for every child in her plays.
My first appearance, alone, before an audience happended when Mrs. Freed assigned some solos for me in one of the Christmas plays. I really can't remember any of the faces in that crowd, however I can still feel the "stage fright".
Reeds' school closed in 1954. This school is easy to find. Drive 0.6 miles from Schweigherts School, on Moyers Station Road(North). The school will be on your right. Route 443, will be just ahead of you. This school was enlarged and remodeled into a home.
The five remaining Wayne Township one-room schoolhouses closed in 1958. Approximately one hundred and ten years of School History was ended. I wonder if any person thought of the significance of that end? Did any of the teachers, administrators, school board members, past students spend a few minutes in past memories? How about the citizens who supported the schools with the tax money? Evidently not; because not one school was preserved for future generations to visit and enjoy. The schools were all sold by the township! What a shame! What a place one of them would have been, for visiting school children. Just one school would have offered so much history. There would have been employment opportunities for a few people. Carpenters, painters, electricians, a tour director and a historian.
Some townships in Pennsylvania did preserve at least one of their one-room, country schools. I would love to show my wife, my children and grand-children a well preserved school, let them sit on those old wooden seats, see the well, the outside toilets, the coal shanty, and let them "run-around" the schoolyard.
Communities need to think hard and often before they sell or tear down monuments to their history. Fifty-one years have passed, since I graduated from eighth grade, at REEDS' School in 1950. Some of the people who were my classmates are gone. They have also passed-on into history, just as we all shall. I hope that the remaining classmates have thought often of those carefree, fun-filled, school days. I also hope, that they told their children and their grand-children of their school days.
These are some of the things that all the Wayne Township schools had in common: The hand-rung teachers bells, that were used to signal the beginning of each school day, the end of the lunch period and recess periods. Very poor lighting in each school. The pot-bellied stoves that provided heat and were powered by coal. Air conditioning; an open door and windows. Wells, with a manual pump to provide drinking water. The large, crock-type containers that held the water. They had a push-button type spikot and a lid.(There were no ice cubes for hot weather). There were no refrigerators, ceiling fans, or floor fans. There were no telephones, tape players or record players. There was no mail service. There were no fire extinguishers. There were no school nurses; come to think of it; there were no First Aid Kits. There weren't any eye, dental, or health examinations of any type. Students never experienced visits to a museum, courthouse, fire station, library, factory, or historical location. The students never saw a movie or heard a quest speaker. There were no cafeterias, hot meals, or microwave ovens. Restrooms were located outside the school as a seperate small building. THEY DID NOT HAVE FLUSHING CAPABILITIES. Some folks called them"privies". They were unlighted, unheated, and didn't have very good ventilation systems. All student desks were made of hardwood and cast-iron. The attached seats could be raised ninety-degrees for easier cleaning of the school floors. The metal legs of the desks were screwed into the wooden floors. A hole about one and one-half inches was in diameter was bored into either the left-top or right-top side of each desk. Inserted there was a black, cast-iron container, with a lid. This was to be used as an inkwell. I never saw ink in our schools, or anyone useing the inkwells. Well, the boys did use the inkwells. Any flies that we were agile enough to capture, were keep there as our prisoners.
Students spend most of their day, seated at their desks. There they studied for their next class, did homework assigned for the next day, and had time to contemplate their place in this world. When the teacher called their grade and class, they left their desks, and walked to the front of the classroom. The very front row of desks had seats attached to the fronts. They provided a much better view of the blackboard and the teacher. Every class; for every subject; took their turns, seated "up front". Where ever your desk was located, you could hear and see all that was being taught. You were being saturated with information from all the grades. The constant repetion of all the subject matter was absorbed into those growing brains and brain cells. However, I don't believe teachers even thought about the effect of this type of teaching.
The thought just came to me, as I began to write this article. There were advantages for attending a country, one-room schoolhouse. We were given one hour for the lunch period. There were also two recess periods; a fiftheen minute recess in the morning and another in the afternoon. We, also, never needed a hallway pass or were told to report to the principal's office. We were always able to receive plenty of fresh air and sunshine. The older boys roamed the country side during the lunch period. The girls never left the schoolyard. I suppose it was "a girl thing"? What a wonderful feeling; being allowed to spend time outdoors, free from the classroom for brief periods. And, what a feeling, when the school bell rang, putting and end to the temporary freedom. Whatever the season, most students spend their free time outdoors. Students who were feeling ill, or were being punished, spend their recess time indoors.
Another subject I remember from grade school, were the assigned chores. All, but the youngest students had chores. The older boys were responsible for filling the coal buckets and bringing those buckets inside, next to the pot-bellied stove. Some boys were given the task of empting the buckets of ashes. I can still remember the rather large, mound of ashes, somewhere on the schoolyard. Every Friday, weather permiting, the oldest boys and girls cleaned the toilets. The toilets were washed "down", with soap and water, by useing strawbrooms. Other children were "claping" the chalkdust from erasers, picking -up litter from the schoolyard, and sweeping the floor. The older boys were always responsible for emptying and refilling the water crock. With almost all the students working together, the school was ready for Monday morning classes.
The Wayne Township Schools were at first, assigned a number, depending in which district of the township they were located. They were all built along main roads. You either had a short or long walk to school, depending in which part of a district your parents lived. Until bus transportation arrived, you had to depend on "the shoe-leather -express to attend school. Can you imagine walking to school in the eighteenth century, about a mile, in winter? Some of the stories you heard, about grandma and grandpa, walking to school, in a foot of snow; were true. These are a few of my memories of Wayne Township , One-Room, Country Schools. I'm sure there are other people who can add more information and memories.
Following is a list of people who attended the schools I wrote about. I haven't arranged their names with the appropriate school. FERN CLAUSER, RICHARD CLAUSER, FREDA FEGLEY, PAUL FEGLEY, BONNIE FESSLER, CONNIE FESSLER, HARVEY FESSLER, JOAN FESSLER, MELVIN FESSLER, PAUL FESSLER, PAULINE FESSLER, CARL FIDLER, GUY FIDLER, ROBERT FIDLER, RUTH FIDLER, HARVEY FREEMAN, PAUL FREEMAN, PAULINE FREEMAN, CARL GERBER, JOSEPH GERBER, LOUIS GERBER, LOUIS GERBER, MARLIN GERBER, DONALD GERBER, ELSIE KILMER, HELEN KILMER, RICHARD KILMER, EDWARD LIPINSKI, JOHN LIPINSKY, ROBERTA MILLER, BETTY MOYER, BRUCE MOYER, MARLIN MOYER, REUBEN MOYER, CARL MOYER, PAUL SCHWARTZ, JAY SEIBERT, JOHN SEIBERT, JOAN SEIBERT, LORRANCE WAGNER, CARL WILDERMUTH, MARY WILDERMUTH, NAOMI WILDERMUTH