Family Stories

Mom’s School Days

Today I found this tiny photograph of my mom, Catherine Lyons Carrico.  It was hidden among other photos in her wallet.  This is a one inch by one and one-half inch photo – probably taken during her high school years.

Mom was a real beauty.  Her dark, curly hair fell to her shoulders.  I am surprised at the dark lipstick she is wearing.  Was this an addition after she left for school that day?  I can’t imagine my grandmother approving this look!

During her elementary years mom walked with her brother and two sister, and neighborhood children, to a small, one room school about two miles from their home.  Coming back from school a snack was sometimes offered by one of the mothers – biscuits left from lunch were a staple.  And in cold weather, a bit of time by the fire warmed cold feet and hands before starting out for the rest of the journey home.

Mom carried her lunch in a little bag, sometimes homemade cottage cheese and crackers.  Since this was an everyday meal for her, it was traded to a classmate for one of their delicacies.  Water was drawn from the well beside the school with a hand pump.

The school was small, with three windows on each side.  A wood stove sat in the middle of the room.  Before winter set in the teacher took all students into the woods to gather kindling to start the fire on cold mornings.  They were rewarded by having a wiener roast – which was a enjoyed by all.

Two privies stood near the fence, away from the school – one for girls, the other for boys.

There were twenty-eight students.  Mom told me many times she and Rose Mattingly, her friend and neighbor, were the only two in second grade.  They sat at a little green table with a small bench on either side.  I admire a teacher that can give all her students, in a quite large grade range, what they needed to learn at their level.

High school was a bit further away.  Mom walked about a mile and caught a school bus that took her the eighteen miles to Fredericksburg – affectionately known as ‘the Burg’.  She was given enough change to buy a Coke and sandwich at a small store, there being no cafeteria at that time to provide nutritious meals.  The long bus ride home, on curvy back roads, and the many stops it made to let other students off at their homes, meant a long day.  Chores and homework were waiting for her at the end,  and a wonderful meal served by her mother.  Then on to bed to get up early for the next day!

11 replies »

  1. What a delightful story. Thank you for sharing. Children certainly had a lot of hard work then just to get to school and home. My uncle Charlie Leonard had a store at Rosehill KY near the Mercer Co – Washington Co line. He had the general store, post office, gas pumps, egg candeling room and voting building. Rosehill School was up on the hill across the road and every school day many of the students came to the store and bought sandwiches, drinks and cake for lunch. Uncle Charlie also had some Maltese cats that lived at the store. They were a beautiful gray color. I certainly enjoyed the store and the people there.

      • Peter Carrico II (1690 – 1765), 8th great-grandfather
        Peter Carrico (1713 – 1765), 7th great-grandfather
        James Carrico Sr (1743 – 1803), 6th great-grandfather
        James Carrico (1764 – 1815), 5th great-grandfather
        Alexander Carrico (1804 – 1848), 4th great-grandfather, Washington County, KY
        Martha Ellen Carrico (1828 – 1880), 3rd great-grandmother, Washington County, KY
        This is where I lose my Carrico line. Martha Ellen married a Lanham.
        There are quite a few brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

  2. Your Mother was such a pretty girl. Loved reading your memories. She did a good job of passing her school stories on to you so you could share them . I don’t tell you enough how much I enjoy finding your posts first thing every morning. Thank you very much.

  3. Dear Cousin Phyllis,
    Your Mom was a beauty.
    Her story is a great reminder for all of the young people today of what life in a rural area meant back many years ago. I’ve heard of one room schools, but even though I’m 84 all the schools I’ve attended were fairly modern. My maternal grandmother (born in 1885) lived in a small Texas town and I visited there quite a bit and there was just one privy at the back fence (on an acre lot), and on cold days we felt that wind on our bare bottoms as the backside of the privy, which faced north, had an opening for cleaning. I did some of that cleaning. My Granddad left her with 8 kids for a younger woman. My grandmother (she lived to be 96) and her kids lived through the Great Depression, and the boys fought in WW2 (although one remained in the States and worked
    in an aircraft factory during the war).
    Best wishes,
    cousin Dick Linton in Texas

  4. This story reminds me of my father talking about attending a one room school in that area called ‘Frogtown’ . His father took him out of school to be at home to help with the farm.(at 6 years old!) When his uncle Rafe (Williams) adopted the children he was allowed to go to school again at St.Charles. Later after moving to Lebanon he went to St.Augustine until he left home at 16 to try to get into the military.(finally the Navy let him in at age 17)
    Your mother certainly was a charming looking lady! Lyons is in our family tree ,much longer ago than the early 1900s though.
    Enjoyed your story , especially about the cottage cheese. Dad had to churn butter every day and that was how they made trade for other items they needed in town. As a little child ,he was a vital cog in supporting the family! Those people certainly worked hard their entire lives. We were blessed that they had so much ingenuity and proper ethics! That trait seems to be lost in this new generation.
    God Bless them all!

  5. Wow must have been mom’s school. I heard her talk about cottage cheese and crackers, and high school in the Burg!

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