Sunday, February 22, 2009


1942- District # 9 School

Friday, Feb.20th, 2009
Grade school memories. District #9 Elementary School

Was sorting out some old papers today and came across an old newspaper clipping that I had saved in the old scrapbook I kept while in school. This clipping was from back in 1942 - a few months after my youngest sister was born. She was the good news. But all news wasn`t good. I had an older brother, a younger brother and a younger sister still attending this grade school with me at the time. Well, the older brother was in the hospital when things happened, so he never went back to this school. You see, we were all home for the week-end when the school burned, so the School decided to start our school`s Christmas vacation early while they decided what to do next. The whole school burned down. It was a 2 story brick building and only the 4 brick walls remained standing once the fire was out. Even the roof had caved in. I am sure there probably were some kids who used to wish the school would burn so they wouldn`t have to keep going to school. But, no one thought it would ever happen, at least not while we were young enough to be going to school. This was an old building- built back in 1911. But, still it was only a 31 year old building when it burned down.

This school only held 8 grades-the first grade up to the eighth grade. No Headstart or kindergarten in those days. When you turned 5 you went to first grade. Actually if your 5th Birthday was before December 1st, you started school in September. My 2 older brothers, my younger brother and myself started school at age 4, but had out 5th Birthday soon after, younger brother and I later in September and the 2 oldest brothers in November. Only 2 of my sisters were already 5 before school started, one turned 5 in March and the other one in July. The youngest sister was almost 4 months old when the school burned, so she never knew our school.

I have a lot of memories from attending that school. My third grade teacher was an older cousin and another cousin my age was in the same grades with me. We stayed in the same grade right up till we graduated from High School together in 1949. We often would forget to call our teacher cousin by Mrs and would call her Katie like we did out of school. Then she would send us to the cloak room for a few minutes to teach us we couldn`t do that during school hours or the other kids might start copying us. I still remember all the sets of swings- must have been at least 4 swings in each set. Then there was the teeter tauters ( also called see-saws by some). Each set consisted of about 4 separate sets all hooked together on one main frame. There was a whirly machine you pumped with your feet and a lot could sit and ride around in a circle on it at the same time, and a very tall slide. I can`t remember any one fighting on school property and everyone stood in line and waited for their turn to use the playground equipment. There was no gym in this school, but there was a large auditorium.

Another item this school had was the large fire escape to quickly get kids off the second floor in case of fire. We used to have a fire drill once or twice a month. We never knew when it would be until we would hear the school fire siren start blowing and then we would calmly line up in a neat row in front of our rooms doorway and follow our teacher out of our school room and down the long corridor with her walking beside us. As we got near the outside door, I remember her standing there just inside the door and telling us to keep walking outside and to wait in the designated area we had practiced to in the past. Then once all the kids from our room were outside, our teacher would follow us and take a head count to be sure no one was missing. The lower grades were all on the first floor, while the older grades were held on the second floor. The second floor had a kind of closed slide to get them from the top floor faster to the ground outside. It was called a fire Escape. It looked like a long snake with a curve near the top shortly after you left the building. You would sit on the top and start sliding down like you were sliding down a regular playground slide. Only big difference is this slide was completely closed all the way from the top till it stopped about 2-3 feet from the ground. it looked like a round, huge, over sized furnace heat pipe that carries the heat from the furnace to the house grates. Us younger kids used to wish we could ride down that huge fire escape like all the older kids did.

Well, along came a day when a girlfriend suggested we climb up inside that fire escape and slide down in it. There was this girlfriend, another friend and my cousin and myself there that time. School had just let out for the day and just the 4 of us were standing there. The other kids were already heading home. The metal gate door to the escape was left open, which just made it look more tempting to us. First the friend started climbing inside and then the other friend, then my cousin started inside while calling me to follow her. I hesitated for a few minutes, but finally gave in and joined them. I knew I would be in a lot of trouble at home if my parents found out. I remember that the further up you climb, the darker it got. Once around the top bend, it was so dark we couldn`t see anything, even the bottom of the escape was hidden by the curve near the top of the slide. We were all sitting there in the dark thinking of what it would be like when we slid down. We had no idea how fast or slow we would be going on the way out. We only had about 5 minutes to think about it before I heard a noise sounding like a chain and knew the janitor must be starting to chain the closed metal door for the night. Actually this was on a Friday, so it wouldn`t be re-opened again until school started again on the following Monday. The thought of spending all week-end locked up in this dark place was more than I wan ted to do. So, I knew , since I was the last one to climb up this long high slide, then I had to be the first one to slide back down ahead of the others. Fear mad me move faster and down I went, followed by the other 3 girls. I remember my feet hit that metal door, knocking it back open and once my feet hit the ground, they never stopped running till I was off the school property. The others were running right behind me. We found out it might take a few minutes to climb up to the top, but just a few seconds to slide down it. I remember seeing the janitor almost fall as my feet knocked the door and chain out of his hands. The chain was like one of those thick heavy chains my father used to tow cars with. The chain used to have a padlock on it to keep the door closed when not in use.

All that week-end us girls worried that the janitor might have turned us in to the Principal. When Monday came around we were in no hurry to get to school. We used to hurry so we would have more time to play with our friends before the school bell rang. When the bell rang we entered the school. There standing just in side the large double doors stood the janitor. We had to walk past him to go to out class room. As we passed him, he said this to us " Did you girls have fun last Friday". Now we knew he had recognized all of us. Funny how you never forget what was said when you were afraid of what might happen. All that day, we worried, waiting to be told to go to the Principals office, but it never happened. We continued to be afraid for the rest of that week. Finally, after a whole week had passed we started to relax again. He never did turn us in or mention the ordeal ever again after that time. Now that was our only time to experience what it was like to slide down that closed up fire escape because the school burned before we were old enough to be in the top floor classes.

Now, that might have been the last for us going to District # School. They talked about dividing up the 260 kids and sending them to two neighboring school. But some people started offering their buildings to use as class rooms, so the school kept going with classes scattered all over the small district. I spent my 6th, 7th and 8th grades going to a building that was originally called "The Half Way House"- it originally was a beer joint or tavern- depending who you asked. I guess it got it`s name due to it`s location. District No. 9 was located between the Town of Fort Edward and the City of Hudson Falls - so halfway between them. They never did rebuild our school. Instead, they joined with Hudson Falls school district and became a part of the Hudson falls School district.
originally all the District #9 school students had their choice of whether they wanted to attend the Fort Edward high School or the Hudson Falls high School once they graduated from District #9 school. Two of my sister, one brother and I attended Fort Edward high, while the other 2 brothers attended High School in Hudson Falls. By the time our youngest sister started school, there was no District # 9 school and she had no choice and had to go to Hudson Falls Schools.
School taxes went up a lot higher after the schools consolidated together. So, my parents, like many of the others who lived near us were listed as living in the Town of Fort Edward, receiving mail from Fort Edward and paying Fort Edward property taxes, but from then on were also paying their School property taxes to the city of Hudson Falls.

I remember another thing I did in District # 9 school. They used the building to hold Bingo games on the week-end. My Aunt once took me with her. I remember winning a pretty set of salt and pepper shakers that night. I still have one of those shakers today. Can`t remember what ever happened to the other one. Can`t even remember what room was used to hold the bingo games in.
I also remember how we had to make up all the time we missed from the time the school burned and they were able to set up desks in all those other building used to hold the 8 classes. I remember the 1 and 2 grades were held in a vacant house, 3rd and 4th in a large place that used to be a store, I forget where the 5th was, but the 6th was first held in the Half way house. Then the following two years this same building held the 7th and 8th and I do not recall where they moved the 6th grade to. So, I spent three years in this same building. My 8th grade teacher was the same man who was our Principal. Later when I took up drivers training in High School he was working there as the Instructor. Since there was no longer a Principals office after the school burned, no one had to worry about being sent to his office. I had three different teachers in the 4th grade. Our first teacher was drafted into the Army in the second World War, the second teacher got sick and her sister became out teacher for the remainder of that year. it is a wonder any of us passed that year.
To make up the weeks of school we had missed while they found places and set them up into classrooms, we had to start going to school on Saturdays. None of the other schools had Saturday classes, so friends from nearby schools used to show up and look through the large windows and make faces at us. The teacher was forever going out to tell them to run along. One time this drunk walked into our clss room asking for a beer. The teacher kept trying to get him to leave but he kept saying he would leave after he had his beer. Teacher finally had to phone for help to have the drunk removed. He came back once more after that and then we never saw him again. In these separate building we no longer had a playground. There was a car junk yard way out in back of the building I went to, but we did have enough room to play made up games. I also remember that things were rationed during the war so every Monday morning we were given a paper cup and told to write our name on it. We had to use this same cup for the 5 school days that week and would be given another new cup the next Monday morning. We would sit it up on the window sill over the sink in the back room. I remember you held up one finger to get a drink and 2 fingers for permission to go to the bathroom. The old school had lockers , but here we just had a hook to hang our coats on. You pushed your mittens into your jacket pockets so you wouldn`t lose them. If you wore a hat , it also was pushed into your coat pocket. I can`t remember ever wearing a hat back then. If you wore boots in the winter, they sat on the floor right under where you hung your coat.
Once they no longer needed the building for school rooms, the building I attended went back to being the Original Halfway House and that bar is still in operation today.


Dot - isn't it amazing after finding that newspaper clipping, all the memories it conjured up for you!! Goodness gracious, the school burning down, and then all the decisions that had to be made for you to get back in school. I had to laugh about the drunk who didn't want to leave until he got his beer!

You have such a wonderful memory, and I'm so glad you're writing these down for us and for your family!

Thanks so much for sharing this with us! You've brought forgotten memories to me also by posting this. (((HUGS)))
HA HA HA I can so see you slidng down tha shute.
We had one of those in our school too.
It ws something else. it looked like a fair ride and we got to use it during drills.
Luckily there was never any fires to use it for rea.

You have great memories and thank you for sharing them
You have such a wonderful memory.I enjoyed reading this post.Just amazing.
Dot, it is so wonderful to be able to share these old memories of yours. Now this a permanent record of life in your time. Thank you for sharing.
Sally, all the kids thought it was funny also and we were all laughing until we realized the drunk wasn`t listening to the teacher, then some of us started worrying if he would hurt the teacher. ((Hugs)) and thanks for stopping by.
Walker, Didn`t the slide remind you of climbing up inside a huge long caterpillar, or a snake or some other over sized animal ride like that?
Now if we had been allowed to ride down it during a fire drill, we wouldn`t have climb up it just to see what it was like. School burnt before we reached the classes held on the top floor.
Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks starry nights.I will be back to visit soon.
Hillgrandmom, Thanks. Funny all the things your mind remembers. Makes you realize how very much your mind can hold and still keep finding room to hold more memories. Better than a DVD with all it holds. LOL
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