My beginning of Duster School was in 1931. I was only five, but my parents could pay $1.00 a month tuition fee and I’m sure they thought that was the best money they ever spent on me…to get me out of the house.
Mrs. Henderson was our teacher in the 1st and 2nd grade. How great it was when we got our first reader. The story was about Bob & Nancy.
Then it was on to the 3rd and 4th grade with Faith Elliott teaching us. We had a mentally challenged girl in our 3rd grade class that wore a tam on her head all the time. Even the teacher could not get her to remove it in class.
One day at recess, I went to the necessity house and some girl had pulled Cynthia’s tam off and threw it down a hole. She was fixing to climb down and get her tam, and I told her to wait and I would get a long stick so she could retrieve it. She took it to the windmill and rinsed it off and came back to school the next day with it on.
We also made a doll house in Miss Elliott’s class. She told seven of us kids to bring apple boxes that were wooden to make the house from them. The grocery stores were glad to give the boxes away so the boys made the house from those boxes, even with a removable shingle roof.
We girls ordered ordered wallpaper sample books from Sears & Reobuck to paper the walls of the house. We also brought scraps of material and made window curtains and rugs.
Then, Miss Elliott bought the furniture and dolls for it. At the end of school we kids drew names to see who would get the house. Bowen Porter got it, but being that he had no sisters, he gave it to me. Loretta Johnson, Louise Huddleston, and I had lots of fun playing with it. Then, when I outgrew dolls I gave it to Louise. She saved it for her daughter Carolyn.
We had rabbit drives in the 30s, and school would turn out on the day of the hunt. Because rabbits were so plentiful, they would eat the crops. Mr. Capers who owned the picture show in Gorman would give kids that brought in two pairs of rabbit ears a free show pass for Saturday shows.
On the day of the hunt Mama and Daddy would cook a wash pot of stew to feed the hunters. Daddy would put out saw horses with boards on them to make a table, and the ladies of the hunters would bring cakes and pies togo with the stew.
During the 30s, the single teachers could not go out on dates on school nights. They also could not marry during a school term. We had two lady teachers who were not married that were from other towns, and they began to have dates. They were called up before the board of trustees and did not get hired for another term.
A bachelor was hired as the Ag teacher one year, and he began to date a high school girl. The bad part was that my daddy was a trustee, and the teacher had to pass our house when he visited the girl. Needless to say, the man was fired.
Sometimes in the spring we would have a box supper. The girls would decorate pretty boxes and fill them with sandwiches, cake, candy, and other goodies. The boys would then bid on them, and the highest bidder got to sit with the girl who owned the box.
The teachers did not always get paid during the 30s. The county was short of money because people were not able to pay their taxes. Mr. Hiram Smith, Sr. would cash the checks in his store in De Leon, less a discount, or you could buy his merchandise at full price.
1941 was the first year that students could take Driver’s Ed. It counted as 1/2 credit, and a driver’s license cost twenty-five cents.
My last year at Duster was 1942, and I have so many fond memories of those years…even though we had to go to school in the tabernacle on dirt floors after the building burned. My classmates and I still share a bond, and that is why we still have a reunion each year.
(Betty attended De Leon high school her senior year. Duster was not accredited, and those who wanted to attend college had to graduate from an accredited high school.)
Photo from http://www.deleonhistory.com/?page_id=2234