Saturday, June 12, 2010

School Memories

This week-end my wife and I took a ride to the west end of Wicomico County where I spent most of my childhood and all of my teen years. I stopped by the schoolhouse where I went to school from the third to the sixth grade in the early and mid sixties and and found that time has really taken it's toll on the building. The owner of the property, Mr. Schoffstall lives next door and he came over when he saw us taking photos and we had quite an enjoyable conversation. When he bought the property many years ago he began a renovation on the building in the hopes of turning it into his residence. However after some personal set-backs and difficulties the project went on hold for an extended period of time.

I noticed a few things that I was never aware of about the building too. For one thing I never knew the original siding was cedar scalloped shingles as can be seen in these photographs. At some point in time clapboard siding was put over the shingles. The weathering is so complete I was unable to tell what color the shingles or clapboard was painted but my guess is it was probably white. What I remember as a siding was white asbestos shingles which have long since been removed, thus the exposure and weathering of the wood. Many trees have been planted in what was the playground and quite a bit of brush has grown up close to the building. Two dormers were added to the front and rear of the building in the initial renovation attempt and the north side of the building there is also evidence of renovation and some replacement windows in place. Other than that the building remains much the same structurally. The inside has been partially gutted and little of a schoolhouse appearance remains.

I went thee in the third through the sixth grade in the sixties. The school had first and second grade as well but but my first & second grade was in Pittsville School. There were only 3 teachers for all six grades at Nanticoke! First and second grade was in the same room, as was third and fourth in another room on the ground floor. On the second floor was the fifth and sixth grade sharing a room and a 4th upstairs room was used for special events, PTA meetings, school productions and such.

Mrs. Camila Leitch taught first & second grade, Mrs. Jeannette Insley instructed third & fourth, and Mrs Mildred Insley kept the fifth & Sixth grade toeing the line. Mrs. Mildred Insley also served as the principal for the school and was responsible for disciplinary action when called for. Believe me---she could swing a wicked paddle!

There was one other adult working full time at the school. The cafeteria manager, Miss Alberta Roberts, prepared meals everyday for the 80 or so students that comprised the school population. There was no cafeteria per-se, rather the lunches were served sort of a buffet style in the main hallway on the first floor and the students returned to their classrooms and ate at their desks. Trays and plates were taken to a designated area after the meal was over and under the very watchful eye of Miss Roberts the plates were scraped clean and stacked neatly.

Occasionally when a substitute teacher was needed another local resident, Mrs. Jane Dayton, was the go-to person for the school. Mrs. Dayton is the only living teacher today and I am unsure about Mrs. Roberts.

This little trip brought back many memories and while in the area I visited other places as well. More posts will be forthcoming about them.


Anonymous said...

I know the school you are talking about. This seemed to be the standard school house design during this era. There was one very similiar in Girdletree and my great aunt was the principal. It is now long gone. But thanks for the memory.

Anonymous said...

There is also a schoolhouse in Mt. Vernon MD. that is of similar design however I think it is a newer structure than the one in Nanticoke.

The Mt. Vernon school house is now occupied by the Mt. Vernon Vol. Fire Dept.

Nancy Holloway said...

Joe, I went to this school all 6 years. What a wonderful memory. I have ridden by and seen how the school looks now. I wish somehow it could be restored but I understand the issue came up and the historical society was unwilling to do it.

Susan Rainey said...

I'd like to see the one in Mt. Vernon. The Fire Dept is using it. That must be the reason it is still standing. The style roof and square architecture was quite popular on the shore.