Pella Chronicle

Days Gone By

August 27, 2010

Looking back at the one room school

Washington School - Knoxville twp. sec. 28

Pella — Washington school was on the north side of the intersection of Kennedy St. and 150th Ave. on the property now owned by Ted Dykstra II.  After the school closed, the building was used as a hog house.  While former student Joyce Langstraat Pearson was living there, it was destroyed by fire when a heat lamp ignited some bedding.  She said she felt worse about the loss of her school then she did about the loss of the hogs.  Most students feel a sense of loss when their building, no matter how dilapidated, disappears from the landscape.

On Sunday Aug. 22 several former Washington School students gathered for their first reunion organized by Roberta Fast Dennison.  Some wondered if they would recognize each other but found it easy as they jokingly said they now looked liked their parents. Former teacher Betty Wing Metcalf also attended.  She was easily mistaken for one of the students as the Washington school was her first teaching assignment after graduating from high school in 1943.

As I visited with various students, I found a common memory was the games they played.  Annie-Annie Over was the most popular, followed by softball.  Softball was not a favorite with Marlys Fee Gramley who said it took her till 6th grade to hit the ball.  And when  she finally did, her school mates were yelling at her to run, run!  

“I knew what I was supposed to do,” she said. She really liked to slide around in her boots as the many puddles on the school yard turned to slushy ice.

Bill Roff admitted to getting into a lot of trouble with friend Kenny De Zwarte.  Bill escaped punishment but Kenny did not and would be hit by the teacher who also happened to be Kenny’s sister.      Betty Roff Beal, now age 82, told me she used to ride her pony to school.  Riding remains a life long hobby as she still rides her mule.  She also works in a Real Estate Office in Albia. I don’t believe she rides the mule to work, however.

Carol Tonda Black started to school at age four with teacher Frances Thompson.  She said that from the very first day of school she knew she wanted to become a teacher.  And she did.  Her friends laughed, recalling how she always wanted to play school and she was always THE teacher.

Many of us have an embarrassing memory from our country school days.  Joyce Langstraat Pearson told us about the time she was swinging and her jumper caught on the swing.  When she jumped off the swing the torn jumper stayed behind. Teacher Helen Adair provided an apron for her to wear for the rest of the day.  Just another example of how country school teachers came up with creative solutions to all sorts of emergencies.

Teachers  included:   Miss Alice Barnes 1881; Miss Hege 1887; Miss Mary Parks 1888; Miss Laura Essex, Carrie Burt 1889; Miss Carrie Burt 1890; C. O. Williamson, Miss Jennie Keefer 1891; Rena Snyder 1892; Miss Dora Marsh  1893; Alice Crosby 1894; Mary Roller, C. E. Denny 1895; Katie C. Smith  1898; Katie Smith, Lulu Townsend 1899; Mrs. Don Smith, H.O. Smith, Fessie Palmer  1900; Fessie Palmer, Laura Ghrist,  1901; Mary Groenenweg 1903; Fessie M. Palmer, Nell McGowen 190;4 Mabel Bush, Mrs. J. C. Clark, Fessie M. Palmer  1905; Fessie M. Palmer, Estella Brubaker 1906; Tressa L. Fry, June Burdick 1907; Clina Karns, Luella Wright  1908; Pearl Bonifield, Mrs. Whitney 1909; Louise Cox, Ruby Miller 1910; Ruby M. Miller, Buelah Lever 1911; Merle Witte, Edna Townsend 1912; Edna Townsend, Mary Greenaway 1913; Luella Wright 1914; Pearl Swayne  1915-17; Laura Taggart 1918; Mrs. Jennie Patton  1919-20; Miss Ruth Fast  1921; Jennie Patten 1922-24; Mabel B. Powers 1925; Mrs. Faye Douglas 1926; Mildred Covey 1927-28; Alice Vinson 1929; Helen Emerson 1930; Josephine Crouch 1932; Josephine Crouch, Loyt Martin 1933; Loyt Martin 1934; Pluma Martin 1935; Loyt Martin 1936; Lorene De Zwarte 1938-39; Mary L. Turner 1940; Eula Hodgson 1941; Marie Filliman 1942; Betty Wing  1943; Norma Jeanne Emerson 1944-45; Helen Adair  1947-48; Frances Thompson 1949-51; Mrs. Minnie McDonnell 1952; Basal White 1953-54; Basal White 1956-58; Alice Vander Zyl 1959; Sarah Harvey 1960; Maxine Adams 1961; Blanche Templeton 1962-64

Please continue to contact me with your school pictures and stories at 641-628-4716 or

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Days Gone By
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