Laurel School

Joni Johnson interviews Faye Hodges and Mae Lambert on the one room school up Laurel Creek.

Joni: This is Mrs. Faye Hodges.

Faye: As far as I know Joni, the school was built in 1905. My mom and dad moved from Bluefield in 1908 and the school was started then. And they had three children when they moved from Bluefield, Blanche, Mabel, and Ray. And they all went to school over there and they lived up the road in a little cottage across for where Mrs. Vandyke lives, while they were building this house here and all of us seven children went through seventh grade over here at this school. And as far as I know, Lula Shrader was the first teacher. There was Lula Shrader and Lily Scott and Flora Hylton and Nora Hylton and Blanche Akers, Georgie Palmer, Stella Miller, and Bob Repass and Kathleen Walters. Now Mae, you can...

Mae: Bob Repass is the only one that I remember going to and we walked three miles; me, Virgie, and Lee, I guess are the only ones that went over there. We walked three miles in the woods to come to school and I remember it so well, because there was three of our neighbor children that whipped us everyday. The girl was older than me, well they was all older than we were, and my brother Lee, he always got him a stick every morning, a big stick, when he started out and he'd ride that stick to school for his horse. So Mr. Repass, he would separate us, he'd send them on ahead and hold us at school a while. Well, they didn't do a thing only go up the road a little piece and wait on us. So they whipped us every day. And this one day, he sent them on ahead so they were just up where our old church is now; that was all woods there and the branch coming down through there and so we's a going along, Lee, he was going along riding his old stick horse and here they all popped out of the brush and Lee, he didn't do a thing but dismount, take his horse, and take one and hit them over the head with it! And the rest of them run and that day, we got the best. So the parents come down on my mom and dad and they left hateful notes all along the . . . pinned on the bushes after that what they was going to do to us and everything. And I remember distinctly the game we had, Faye probably does too. The only thing I remember us doing was playing jack rocks. Did you do that Faye?

Faye: Yeah and we played dare base and stink base and in the wintertime we'd sleigh ride.

Mae: But the jack rock games, the boys wore sheepskin coats and we'd spread them out over the desks and we had old, uh, the brass ends cut off of shotgun shells. That's what we used for our jack rocks and that was our entertainment when it was bad days. We'd play jack rocks. So Faye can probably tell you more than I can, that's about all I can remember.

Faye: Now when my sister Blanche taught over there, she gave me the only spanking ever got in school.

Joni: What did you get it for?

Faye: When she rang out the bell I didn't go back in. Margaret Akers and I stayed out. And at recess she sent Bill Underwood out to find us and so she whipped me harder than she did Margaret and I guess it was because I was her sister. And Underwood boys, and Earl and Herman Lambert, the Underwood boys always tried to beat up on them and they would let Earl and Herman go home at 2:30 and they'd keep the Underwood boys then until 3:00. And one time we were sleigh riding over there and my brother Pat was coming down the hill with his sled and I was going up with mine and I fell and struck Pat in the eye and he has the scar in the corner of his eye, right today, where I fell and hit him with the runner, the sled runner.

Joni: Well, I want to know why everybody wanted to beat everybody up so much!

Faye: I don't know. It was just in the boys to do that. But the girls didn't fight. I never knew of them fighting over there on the schoolhouse hill now.

Mae: No, I didn't either. The girls, they fought on the road, or we did. We had to. We had to fight to survive!

Faye: And Joni, this store building down here is the old school house.

Joni: Oh, is it?

Faye: Uh huh.

Mae: You mean that's the lumber there out of the old school house.

Faye: And I had the store for, uh, ran a store for thirty-three years, and the store still stands in pretty good shape today.

Joni: We'll have to get a picture of that in a minute.

Mae: And that's where Joni lives, where the old school, is that where the schoolhouse used to set?

Faye: On farther back.

Mae: Back out a little farther.

Joni: Can you all tell me what subjects were taught? Was it just the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic?

Faye: And physiology and geography, history, spelling. We had seven or eight subjects.

Joni: And it was a one room schoolhouse?

Faye: One room schoolhouse.

Joni: What grades did it run?

Faye: One through seven.

Joni: One through seven. What did you all eat for lunch, I assume you packed your own?

Faye: Uh, we came home, mostly, here cause we lived close and we'd run home.

Joni: Did you do that too Grandma?

Faye: And Jeff Williams brought his lunch and one day, he'd bring it in a half gallon bucket, and one day he went to open his lunch bucket and he had a bucket of lard! He'd picked up the wrong bucket!

Mae: Yeah, we brought ours. And we thought we's up in high society to have a lard bucket to carry it to school in.

Faye: And my sister Blanche, now when she taught over there, she would take her to lunch, and I remembered one boy, and he'd stand right beside of her when to eat and he'd say "Miss Blanchy, I like eggs, don't you?"

Mae: Them was hard times, but good times.

Faye: Yeah, yeah.

Mae: As bad as they were.

Faye: And we learned.

Mae: Yeah you did.

Faye: Absolutely.

Joni: So, did the teachers board with you Mrs. Hodges?

Faye: Everyone but one, and she boarded down here at Mr. Creed Wheeler's. She was related to them.

Joni: That's a good number. Did they just come from Laurel, just up at this end of Laurel?

Faye: Uh, huh.

Joni: Did you celebrate holidays any particular way? In the school? Did you have parties or . . .

Faye: We always used to have readings and I remember the first recitation I had in school and it was, "Now my dear Miss Armistice," I had a doll in my hand, "please sit up nice and straight, and listen like a lady dear to what I shall relate, tomorrow is going to be the best day of all the year, and you have been good, you have not cried or kept me awake at night." And that's it.

Mae: That's good. You've got a good memory.

Joni: Did you all celebrate Christmas? Did you have a party?

Faye: We always had a Christmas program. We never had parties or anything, we just had Christmas programs and we'd have shows and things like that and plays. I was five characters in one play!

Joni: What was that?

Faye: Well, I was an angel, can you believe it? I was an angel and I was an outlaw and I was a spirit and we had five acts in that play and I was something different in each one. And I got seven prizes each year, I got a prize for not missing a day in seven years. I didn't miss a day. And I got the other prize for being the best speller and I got the most head marks and we would have spelling bees in school.

Mae: I can remember them, you spell, see who stood up the longest.

Faye: Yeah, I know when I started in high school down in Rocky Gap, we were having spelling bees down there, and the teacher, she was from Richmond, Virginia and she didn't say her words too plain, she gave me out the word dew, and I spelled d-o, and it was d-e-w. So I had to sit down. Such a simple word.

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