Teacher rang the school bell at 9 o’clock and everyone dutifully filed in. Seats were assigned. Teacher gave a little talk about how the school year was going to run smoothly, talked about duties, emphasizing responsibilities and how everyone was to “get along” with everybody.
We all stood next to our desks, hand over heart, faced the corner where the 48-star flag hung at an angle right below the portraits of Washington and Lincoln, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The school year began.
The grass and weeds around the school house had grown tall over the summer. Floyd Sutton mowed a few days before school started. The base paths on the softball diamond were barely discernible. The school grounds looked like a hay field, and would remain that way until 28 pairs of feet tramped over the half acre plot. Melvin Sales had filled the cistern with fresh drinking water, brought over from his farm in a cow tank on a trailer pulled by the 9N Ford tractor. He would do a refill about every 3 months during the school year.
The one-room country Oak Grove school outside of Seneca in Crawford County was now in session in 1948. When I was a kid on the farm, school started around September 4 or 5, depending on Labor Day. We got a few new clothes before school began. There were always about 3 to 5 Scheckel kids heading one mile northwest on the gravel road to the one-room Oak Grove School.
We each had a lunch paid, sometimes a new one, sometimes one left over from last year, or a hand-me-down from an older sibling heading off in the other direction to High School in Seneca.
We carried a Big Chief tablet, usually red, and new box of crayons, and a couple of pencils. We would join the Kozelka kids on the way to school.
The start of school was an indication that Fall was coming on. The haying season was finishing by this time of year. If we got a lot of rain, we would get a third crop off some fields. Threshing was done and the oats was in the granary, along with a bin of wheat for the chickens. The corn ears were fleshing out, the silk turning from a yellowish white to a brown color. The walnuts were starting to fall from the trees over on the hill pasture.
An apple tree was just off the road over in the Ingham pasture. Holstein cows grazed in that wooded pasture and so did a big Holstein bull. That didn’t stop us school kids from crawling under the fence and fetching a few apples to gnaw on or to throw at each other.
Cockleburrs grew along the roadside as did goldenrods, honey suckle, plantain, nettle, ragweed and a bunch we couldn’t identify. Loved those cockleburs. Pull a bunch, wad them up, and toss them as somebody with a wool sweater. Cockleburrs were a forerunner of Velcro, you understand. Yes, it was Fall when school had started.