We had free rein as to where we went to play. We climbed trees, built tree forts, built fires and heated water for a hot drink, and cooked our lunch. No need to stop playing just to go home and eat inside. We made a game of it, no matter what we were doing. Our horses added another element to the fun in life. I now know we took for granted every day.
Our school had two classrooms. When I attended there, it accommodated everyone up to grade six; however, I do know at one time, there were students in higher grades. I shall have to contact some of the old-timers that I know and see if they can give me some additional history. There were two buildings/housing known as a teacherage, one for each room’s teacher.
In the wintery months, which could easily be October to April for some years, we pushed the desks to the side of the classroom and played floor hockey. That was our gym and you became very adept at warding off an opponent with one hand and running the length of the room while maneuvering the plastic puck at the end of your stick and keeping your distance from the desks that had become the ‘wall’. Crashes happened, and sometimes included blood, but it was up and back at it without much thought.
The area around the school had been cleared long before I started school. The brush piles at the back side acted as a fence line. The brush piles were riddled with little alcoves perfect for forts and hiding during a game of hide-and-seek. Beyond the pile of downed trees, the forest was another place that encouraged the imagination, as long as you made sure to listen for the bell.
Two teeter-totters had been built. One had a narrow board, not too thick, that the smaller children used. The other one was a thick and wider hewn piece of timber for the older kids. The swings, wooden seats secured by thick rope, provided hours of play. The deep impressions in the dirt below were a sign of skidding to a stop and pushing off to get started. Sometimes someone stood on the seat with another person sitting between their feet. And yes, going as high as you could before jumping on the forward swing was not only a risk, it was a challenge to see who could jump the farthest and land on their feet. Different rules every day.
We played baseball here. We had our school sports days here. There were two outhouses to facilitate the needs of after-school and hours needs. The sports day was a kind of wind up to the school year. A fire was built to roast wieners and marshmallows when the day was over. I don’t remember that we received ribbons for winning. We didn’t need them to know who had won. And we didn’t need one to tell us we had participated.
A high jump and long jump pit had been dug out of the dirt and gravel and filled with dirt and sand, not much sand. You could easily have a mud bath if the rain had come the day before. It didn’t matter, no part of the event was cancelled just because of a little weather. We might go home mud-spattered and wet, but we had fun.
And yes, the day the old school was torn down and new portable-type buildings were brought in to replace it was a sad day for all who had once gone there.