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!