TYRONE VILLAGE SCHOOL DAY SKETCHES -1921

NUMBER ONE

School days, school days, dear old

Golden Rule Days,

Reading and Writing and ĎRithmetic

Taught to the tune of a hickory stick.

Some time ago the Senior Editor made a suggestion re Tyrone school days of the 80ís. Personally, I know of no one more likely to do justice to the subject that the Rev. S.G. Brown, B.A., who made the request, seeing that the Brown boys were ever noted for their intellectual ability.

Nothing would give the old girls and boys more pleasure than a series of articles by S.G. or T.A. or both together.

Why not have genuine Canadian editions of Tom Brownís School Days, which would be sure to make as delightful reading as the English version?

Hope it may soon follow these few recollections which the writer does not guarantee to be in any regular form.

To begin, then, I suppose there are yet some oldest inhabitants, who may remember the gaunt frame school house which did duty for the young and rising generation until about thirty years ago, when it was accidentally burned from the flames of a house to the west of it - no one weeping over the loss.

Sad to say, the kids were painfully rejoiced to witness the disappearance of a building entirely lacking in beauty or symmetry. True, it was commodious - that much may be granted. But so is a barn.

Within its well-ventilated clapboard walls one alternately froze in winter and melted in summer, and yet we never heard of any attacks of pneumonia consequent upon exposure.

The teachers fared not so badly in summer as their respective desks to the central south made them more immune to the glaring rays through unshaded windows, but in winter they were the furthest from the good old wood-stove at the north and which relieved the monotony of the big boys who acted as stokers.

As for the building, it was a two-story affair - quite pretentious in its day. In its grades, strangely enough, the Upper School was the Lower School and the Lower School was the Upper School. In that day our forefathers did not believe in putting the youngest and weakest on the ground floor - no such thing, let them climb to the top, it would strengthen their young legs and incidentally remind them of that noblest emulation of childhood - Excelsior!

Providence, who guards the lambs of the flock in a town without fire protection, decreed that no harm should befall them, inasmuch as the building eventually burned down on a Saturday. Peace to its ashes! Clumsy and unprepossessing as to exterior, equipped in the usual meagre style of the age, but boasting one feature for which it was surpassed - the quality of its teachers.

The first of these whom I remember distinctly as the epitome of everything kind and helpful was Miss Carrie Gibbard. No little heart went comfortless, no groping mind left mystified through her steadily sympathetic guidance from day to day. Patience and poise she possessed in a wonderful degree. As she was, so she is, in her present home in Toronto, a blessing and comfort to those of her own household and a very wide circle of friends.

Another lady who taught in her girlhood at Tyrone was Miss Lizzie Coram - now Mrs. Wesley Couch, Bowmanville. Her very presence in the schoolroom was wont to dispel any gloom that lingered there. Needless to say, she won golden opinions from all the kiddies, for though intensely faithful in the discharge of her duties her aim was ever to persuade rather than compel, to lead rather than drive.

Of the Miss Tuer whom West Durham Boy mentions as following Miss Gibbard, I have no recollection but as much of my time was spent at Grandfather Jardineís in my early childhood, it must be that I missed the benefit of that ladyís tuition.

When Miss Watson, however, stepped upon the dais to teach the young ideas (or imps) how to shoot, we surely all were there a goodly portion of the time. Miss Watson was a very capable young lady, and hailing from the larger places of the earth was looked upon with awe, not to say admiration. Strangely enough, all memory of her qualifications as a teacher has flown, our minds no doubt being too much taken up with mischief to be very receptive at that period.

About that time a new fashion in dress became prevalent in our quiet burg. Hitherto it seemed as if all our womankind had been wearing abnormally full skirts. But, lo! With one fell swoop descended upon their bodies the pull back or skintight skirt compared with which our present hobble skirt is as easy as slipping upon a banana peel. One could not walk but one might wiggle if very expert.

Miss Watson being tall and slight and graceful in appearance could manage to navigate much more easily than ladies of robust build. In fact, the style was not for them, no matter how much they might emulate it. Talk about present-day fashions, there never was anything quite so ridiculous as that pullback gait, especially when rendered still more odious by a bustle. To liken the appearance as of a camel walking upright is about as nearly as one can convey the idea.

There is no question of the educative power of dress; but, unhappily, the ideals inculcated in childish minds about that time were far from lofty or helpful. But our slim young ladies preserved and drew upon their devoted bodies the wondering admiration of the sterner sex also the well developed of their own sex and the unrepressed giggles of the smaller fry of both species.

Amid the throng our teachers gracefully glided as one apart. Now, if anyone should dream it an easy task to go about oneís daily duties in such attire let such a one put on a long trailing skirt - if such there be in existence - fasten it back as tight as wax anywhere between the waist and ankles and then step forth! How much progress would one make in a day? And yet womankind in that day, noble pioneers of fashion as it were, actually accomplished the impossible - as they always will!

At school one day the teacher appeared with an innovation in the shape of a lace scarf draped artistically round her throat and ends to spare floating down over her bodice. Now, properly speaking, this should have been regarded as an educative force by every pupil but not so was it considered by a refractory young citizen of Hibernian origin.

Commanded to hold out his hand for the customary daily discipline he agreeably complied but with lightning celerity tore the drapery off the ladyís form and flung it to the floor there to mingle ignominiously with its time-honoured dust.

Of course, the drubbing, which followed, was severe and well deserved, but the satisfaction of disassembling the teacher sang loud within his wicked boyish heart a song of victory.

The same lad is now a quiet law-abiding citizen of a flourishing city and no doubt has long since forgotten the incident which made him the admired hero of the hour in the eyes of less daring young rascals.

Miss Watson very likely, too, has long since forgiven and forgotten the young culprit, and will be ready to laugh with those of us who remember some of the pranks of other days.

Sometime, too, perhaps, not so many years distant, we shall all laugh at the unspeakable fashions of to day, which will seem every whit as ridiculous as those of forty years ago.

..............................................................................

 

SCHOOL DAYS AT TYRONE - 1921

Mrs. Geo. A. Watts, Hamilton

__________________________

NUMBER TWO

It was during Mr. Albert Barberís term as Principal of Tyrone Public School that the writer was promoted to the lower room - always a proud and eventful day. The first amazement that struck one was, however the teacher managed to make him heard with the continual bedlam overhead!

Slamming slates, scuffling of small nailed feet on the well-worn floor, tramp, tramp, tramping of someone always up and down, and unnecessarily loud shouting of lessons in unison - thatís how it sounded as soon as one were out of it.

Mr. Barber was a painstaking teacher, quick-tempered, but soon over it, appreciative of the ambitious pupil and well intentioned in all his methods - drastic or otherwise. One of these might strike you as unique.

There were a few big boys in the school out for a good time, as most ordinary boys are, and generally at the teacherís expense. Mischief is very dear to the average boyís heart, and what better time to practise it than when the teacher is busy with a class at the front to safeguard observation. But let not such a one think he had detracted Mr. Barberís attention.

At the rate of a mile a minute would come hurtling through the air a twelve inch ebony ruler, landing neatly and safely by the side of the pupil carrying on. No need to speak of the electrifying effect or the dead silence which followed, during which at a word of command from the teacher the miscreant soberly carried the ruler back to its proper resting-place amid the smothered giggles of the juniors.

There was mutinous rebellion on the boyish face and the red blood of murder swelled in his veins - but he gave no sign. Of course, had that ebony missile deflected by ever so slight a margin, the result more than once would have spelled disaster. But the aim was so accurate that no one was ever hurt. Kids in that day were not even supposed to have any nerves. What we did most wickedly wish for was retaliation, but our boys were made of that stuff which later made military discipline an easy matter for their sons. However, boy like, they did a lot of bluffing on the playground later. What they would not do to the teacher when they became men and in their imagination the poor fellow was a cringing creature praying for mercy of his stalwart combatants, while of course, none was granted, and an admiring circle of small fry took everything in dead earnest, and beheld the cruel oppressor as good as slain before their eyes.

We all know how quickly such incidents seem to fade from the child mind, but long, long years after the imprint is discovered as distinct as ever, only with this difference - that what we sincerely believed to be tragedy develops later into comedy. At that time we could not realize that the benefit of the teacherís neat shot was to rouse sluggish brains and bodies to greater activity, thus taking the place of the diversified routine of to day.

Some of Mr. Barberís cleverest pupils were his own distinguished children, Ida and Herbert, Miss Jennie Hellyar, Mrs. (Rev.) S.T. Bartlett, Miss Ida Bingham, Mrs. John I. Bell, Archie Bingham and A. E. Manning, now Principal of Strathcona School, Hamilton, the first two on the list becoming eminent doctors and the latter four successful teachers in the neighbourhood until called to larger activities.

We wonder how many of the old girls and boys recall the desktops we used to have with hinges on?

Oh boy! Them wuz the days!

Once get the teacher busy with a pupil or a class or best of all his back turned to the world, and up would go a desk-lid in search of some runaway textbook or mayhap to straighten the contents of the desk. But what a time it would take to do it, and how many snow apples were stealthily crunched, and how many volumes not strictly on the list of schoolbooks were eagerly devoured at the same time!

If one became very studious, more than likely the theme was Jane Eyre or Miss Alcottís

Little Women, or others of that ilk. Of course, it is the girls of which we are speaking, for let a boy become suddenly quiet the teacher would be suspicious right away and give him no chance to read thrillers or partake of refreshments. Taken all in all those old timers of desks were a torment to the teacher but a delight to the pupil - and so convenient.

With the advent of the modern desk half the joy of school life suddenly departed, and one was compelled to grope around for recreant books of the stupidest order, forever subject to the ruling despotís merciless glare. Impossible, too, to keep oneís desk tidy as under the old regime, but the new type did away with the slamming of lids and in the eternal scheme of things all noise-producers seem doomed to go.

After Mr. Barberís time a teacher who stands pre-eminent was Mr. Guy Andrus, an Orono boy. Quiet, clever and efficient are terms which fitly apply to his type of teaching. Nowadays, to use the word efficient is to give readers the impression that the one referred to was a tiresome person, but in the case of Mr. Andrus one is justified in using it in the fullest sense of the term.

So far as my recollection goes, there never was any hint of trouble between teacher and pupils during the years he spent in Tyrone. With seniors he was particularly successful.

It was owing to this superiority that Dr. James E. Brown, then popularly known as Jim, was led to come to our school after a lapse of several years of study to begin seriously the preparation for his life work. Tom and Sam Brown were also attending Tyrone school and fine gentlemanly fellows and good students were they, as, indeed, have been all the Brown boys it has been our fortune to know. No on thought amiss of Jim attending school although a man grown, nor did he ever assume a condescending air toward the young set.

No doubt you remember, Mr. Editor, the good old days in the spelling-match. If Mr. Peter Werry, Tyroneís grand old man, were so inclined he could tell of famous battles fought and won. But, alas! those who stood side by side with him or his opponents have grown pitifully few.

In the later days of which I speak, we did not go from school to school to wage warfare but we did have one precious hour or so a week preferably Friday afternoon, the last thing on the timetable. It was an exciting time when all and singular would be ranged beside their respective captains, and one which tested the mettle most severely. One must never give way to nerves, lest he or she would be sure to slip and fall over a word which in saner moments would come as natural as breathing - and to stop to consider was always a fatal sign.

When once the big scholars went down the tension slightly relaxed but was maintained pretty tightly until the last two wiry contestants had won or lost their Waterloo.

Inasmuch as no one can justly claim credit for being a good speller, since it is a natural gift, no better feelings rankled against the winner, though each strove hard for the position.

Jim Brown was never too proud to enter the lists and always graciously accepted his fate on the occasions when he misspelled taking his seat with a smile, and very well pleased with the experience.

With the departure of Mr. Andrus we lost one who was a teacher in the truest sense of the word, and gave to more than one of his pupils the benefit of High School education.

Miss Mary Manning (now Mrs. Amos Bond), Roland, Man., was one of his most clever and successful pupils, and, doubtless, there are others who could rise and do him honour.

For some time after, there did not appear to be very good work done in the old school, probably owing to the difficulty then as now of obtaining really first class teachers in a country village.

Mr. McCullough, who had poor health and whose nerves were in such a pitiable condition as to unfit him for the strain of teaching, took charge for a while, followed later by C. K. Grigg. Mr. Grigg remained for a considerable time and was quite successful though not in the degree of some of his predecessors. Teachers and preachers are often unhappily up against it through no particular fault of their own.

..............................................................................

TYRONE SCHOOL DAY SKETCHES - 1921

Mrs. Geo. A. Watts, Hamilton

________________________________

NUMBER THREE

After a couple of years during which the pupils made very slight progress, the trustees of No. 18 considered themselves fortunate in securing the services of Mr. E.T. Slemon, a Haydon boy, with a splendid record as a teacher. Salaries in that day were not what they should have been and would to day be considered scandalous by the teaching profession. Nevertheless, the teacher existed, dressed decently, and managed to save as much as his more handsomely paid brother of 1921.

At the beginning of his term Mr. Slemon agreed to teach both rooms at an advance on the one-man salary, though goodness knows how he ever managed to accomplish it.

With eighty pupils on the roll, ranging in grades from the tiniest tots to a fair sized continuation class, he surely had very little time to call his own. However, with the aid of a couple of monitors during the morning session, everything was managed satisfactorily.

Miss Maude Emmerson (Mrs. R.G. Wade, Toronto) made a capable assistant in the teaching of juniors, but Mr. Slemon personally supervised the teaching of every class at least once a day.

Mrs. Geo. W. McLaughlin, Oshawa, (nee Miss Annie Hodgson), and Dr. E. T. Hoidge, Toronto, are two of Mr. Slemonís clever graduates.

Another pupil of the old Tyrone school who has risen to eminence is Miss Etta Campbell, Toronto, who in addition to teaching and caring for her home finds time to write instructive and scholarly articles for a Queen City publication.

It would make interesting reading if all the graduates of the old frame building would respond to a general roll call through the Press, and let us know to what standing he or she has attained. There would be a number, we are sure, who have made a success of life whom we cannot at this moment recall. Without doubt, however, the large majority of us would be found with the every day rank and file who go to make up the necessary units of humanity.

Not one of all the number, in whatever walk of life but would acknowledge to being helped by the thorough methods of teaching employed by Mr. Slemon, he being simply unsparing of himself for the advantage of every pupil under his charge, large or small, stupid or retentive.

Perhaps the kiddies of to day would like to know what games the boys and girls played in those antiquated days. Well, as the games of childhood were not so much as their studies, we may say they were not so unlike those of to day.

Baseball for the big boys two old cat and rounders for the smaller ones, prisonersí goal, I spy and crack-the-whip for the girls and smallest ones. We played with zest, and, as youngsters often will, played the hardest, in the hottest weather. It verily gives one a pain nowadays to see how city children sort of stand around instead of starting something, due, perhaps, to being under observation, lack of space or warnings about breaking windows, etc. There was abundance of room in Tyrone playgrounds and far enough removed from the danger line for safety.

At the beginning of the afternoon session in Mr. Slemonís time, there were a few minutes devoted to mental arithmetic. This served the double purpose of quickening sluggish minds and allowed the preliminary coughing and clearing of throats to subside as always seems necessary after the sports of the outer air. It was a capital experience for the pupils, being a free-for-all competition. There was one little lad who invariably distinguished himself by arriving first on the list. Accurate as an adding, subtracting and multiplying machine, he managed to get the solution as fast as the numbers were rolled along. Cecil Branton was his name (son of Mr. Joshua Branton, Tyrone) and if Cecil did not attain a position of high finance in later days, it is not that his early training unfitted him for it. But as in the case of others we have lost track of him, though the picture still remains of the eager young face in strained attention gasping every twist and tangle of the perverse old problems almost ere they had left the teacherís lips.

In any case those mental arithmetic quandaries were a capital training for all of us in our ever-recurring tussles with the giant - H.C. of L.

After a very successful high school record as mathematical master in some leading high schools Dr. E.T. Slemon, B.A. was appointed Inspector of Public Schools in the city of Ottawa where he now is.

Following Mr. Slemon were two gentlemen since famed in medical circles, Dr. A. S. Tilley, Bowmanville, and Dr. John H. Allin, Orono.

Somewhere about that time the old school burnt down and though my own school days were long since ended I felt sorry that I could not feel badly to see it go, but rather joyous over the fact that they would soon have something more worthy in its place. And they did. To the credit of Tyrone school section be it said that no prettier or solider-built school is found on the whole countryside than their very own.

Built of brick in a neat design, slate roofed, two-roomed on ground floor, modernly equipped and comfortable it stands an honourable seat of learning and one of which the young and rising generations need never be ashamed.

It often amuses the present generation to hear mother and dad talk about the good old days, and well it may, for no days in the past transcend these wonderful days in interest or importance. But so long as time endures will the glamour and glow of youth fasten itself upon each succeeding generation, and impel them in a later day to speak boastfully of their early days as being the only days worth living, their exploits the most wonderful that ever happened to be exploited and their attainments far in advance of the student of to-day. May we be delivered from such vain glorying.

Now I am quite positive that Tyrone never had cleverer or more capable young people than to day. It makes me proud of the little town to read from week to week of all their brilliant sayings and doings in Church and League and Drama. They are just as smart and up-to-the-minute as any bunch of young people whom I know, not excepting the city with its many facilities for higher education. Even though one could not call them by name in many cases, it warms the heart and urges the lagging footsteps forward to know that right down there in oneís own home town there has sprung up a noble little army training themselves to carry on indefinitely, the many lines of good work in which they are engaged.

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