We moved to Hamilton County when I was a 6-year old. Our farm was 2
miles outside of Aleman between Aleman and Ireland. I went to school at
Aleman School, we went to church in Ireland and we shopped in Hamilton.
I walked about a half mile to the bus stop on the FM road that ran past
our place. It was a long dusty walk for a little girl and my mother
watched me until I reached the end of the lane.
The school was housed in a large 2-story building. There were 4 large
rooms on the first floor, 2 on either side of a hallway that cut the
building in half. On the second floor, there was a large auditorium
complete with a stage and curtain and I think I remember a dressing room
on either side. I was impressed with the size.
There were 6 girls in my first grade class - Frances Busch, Wanda
Snyder, Lou Ann Collier, Rita Klatt, Priscilla Schrank ( I think that was
the spelling), and me. I was the odd man out, a little Irish lass in a
class of Germans, but they accepted me. The kids called me Blackie because
my hair was black, my eyes were brown and my skin was darker - no freckles
on this kid. Classes were held in the first classroom on the right as we
entered the building. The room housed several grades (1-5, I think). Older
students were taught in the other 2 classrooms and the 4th one was our
lunchroom. It was a large kitchen type room with a couple of long tables
There was no running water in the building. We had a 3-hole outhouse
for the girls way back behind the school on the left and another outhouse
on the right for the boys. There was a long concrete and stone water
fountain with 4 spigots out front of the building. When the weather was
cold and the outside pipes were frozen, water was hauled in. We used a
common dipper. Strep throat ran rampant in the school. I had it 3 times
one year. The treatment was penicillin injected in the gluteus maximus.
Ouch!!! The cook was a carrier of strep.
A lot of the kids at the school came to school without shoes when the
weather was warm. The boys wore jeans or overalls and a lot of the girls
wore dresses made from feed or flour sacks - me included. Mom would go to
the feed store with Dad when he went to buy feed. She picked out the
material for our clothes. Most of our mothers sewed and made our clothes.
The exception was Rita, an only child, who had storebought stuff. I
thought her family must be rich.
We listened to the older classes recitations. We learned from
eavesdropping on their classes. Once our own lessons were finished, we
could read. The library was a large closet in our classroom. We were free
to read any books in the closet and I think I read them all, perhaps more
Playground equipment consisted of swings and a merry-go-round. Before
we started the school year, the schoolyard had to be cleaned off. Tall dry
weeds and the rocks had to go. One year during the cleanup, I picked up a
rock that was a hiding place for a scorpion that quickly attached himself
to my dress and began laboriously climbing up. I stood still and stared in
horror, screaming. Lou Ann was as frightened at I and began dropping rocks
down the front of my dress to knock it off. One of the older boys saw my
plight, ran up, brushed the scorpion off and stepped on it.
Names that I recall from my short 3 years there are Linda and Junior
Bottlinger. I called her Linda Bottlinda at first. Marvin Kunkle, Wanda
and Delton Erie, Mr. Massengill (principal), Miss Limmer and Mrs. Williams
(teachers) and Joy Blanchard are others. There was a boy named Charles but
I forget his last name.
Stanley parties were popular and I remember Mom having one. A lot of my
classmates' moms came and brought the kids. Who had ever heard of
childcare back then. The boys started for the barn and I started to tag
along until one of the girls stopped me. The boys were going out the cow
lot to use the bathroom. I was appalled, "but we have a bathroom
inside." They weren't used to farmhouses with indoor plumbing.
Our farmhouse was built on stilts (rock pillars) we called them. The
house did not sit flat on the ground. I could walk under the house
standing upright until I was almost under the front porch. The yard was
fenced with the usual range fencing, not barbed wire, and cedar posts with
sagging gates on three sides. I remember old flat irons used as as weights
on the gates. There were cedar trees in the front yard and they were
infested with bumblebees. The adults kept fly swatters on the front porch
to swat the bees away. My brothers used to hold tow sacks over the bee
holes and then would hit the tree to make the bees fly into the sacks.
There was a long front porch across the front of the house and a set of
wide wooden steps leading up to the front door. The dirt "walk"
leading from the front gate to the steps was lined with white rocks. The
front door was flanked by 2 tall skinny windows. Before we bought it, the
house was a modified "dog run" design. A hallway ran between the
front door and the screened back porch. The "dog run" was
enclosed to become our bathroom and an entry hall. To the right was a
large bedroom that my younger brothers and I shared. There was a smaller
room attached to the bedroom and it opened up onto the back porch. I was
told it may have been a wardrobe room in previous years. To the left of
the hallway and bathroom was the living room. Behind this room was the
dining room, my parents' bedroom. In the back of the house was the
kitchen. Three of the five rooms opened up on to the "L" shaped
backporch. The house was not insulated at all. The wallpaper covering the
walls was backed with cheesecloth and that and the wood in the walls was
all that was between us and the North Pole in winter and the Equator in
the summer. We had a wall heater in the bathroom, a space heater in the
living room and the kitchen stove. We heated with butane.
We had electricity but no phone because we could not afford to pay for
the lines to be
strung from town to the farm. Mom or Dad had to go to town, Ireland or
Aleman, or to the only neighbor with a phone in emergencies. Newspapers
were not daily and were a luxury. Television? Who had that on a farm in
the early 1950s?!! Radio was the thing. We listened to The Lone Ranger,
The Shadow, and Amos 'n Andy.
We sold milk, butter, eggs and crops to purchase the things we needed
that farm did not produce. There was a root cellar under the kitchen and
it was filled with jars of canned vegetables. My younger brother and I
washed and dried the eggs in the cool of the cellar in the summer and in
the warmth of it in the winter.
Moving from the farm to San Angelo, Texas was a shock to my system. I
moved from a class of 6 little girls to a class of over 60 and half of
those were boys. I was behind in math and science, but not in reading!! I
was lost. My teacher was not as patient or as kind as Ms. Limmer and Mrs.
Williams had been.
My best memories of childhood are set in Hamilton County, at Aleman
School, and on a dryland farm where the wildflowers grew in great
abundance. My memories include the buzz of the honey bees as they worked
the flowers, the sight of a field of golden oats with red poppies waving
defiantly here and there, the large mulberry trees in the back yard with
berries of different hues and the green grass over the sewer line to the
septic tank. I see barefoot kids with stained feet and mouths (mulberries)
and clothes hanging on the line. I can still hear the creaking strain of
the windmill as it pumped the water up and into the tanks. I hear the low
of cows callling to their calves. I can still see the turkeys ganging up
on my younger brother and chasing him across the yard. Kittens were born
in the outhouse and under the barn. The dogs chased, caught and killed
interlopers to the hen house and the odor of a polecat always brings those
two dogs to my mind. We took them to town with us. I had to leave Olie,
the lamb, behind, as well as my little red hen.
I drove back about 10 years ago. The farmhouse is gone. It burned down.
I couldn't see any cedar trees or the mulberry trees. The barn and the out
buildings are also gone. In fact, I had to drive to Aleman School, a
residence now, and clock myself back down the road 2 miles. The Krueger's
old house and buildings are gone. Nothing is the same, but the memory
lives on. I'll never forget. The stories of my childhood days have been
favorites of my children and grandchildren. Thanks for the memories.