By Julie (Friesen) Johnston – Shaunavon, Sask.
My childhood school was located in the middle of the village of Schoenfeld, Sask., was called Maharg School. Attending that school has left me with a lot of memories, mostly good ones. My ride to school was not in a yellow school bus. On my very first day my ride was on a tractor pulling a combine. I was dropped off and away I went.
Fortunately, I had quite a number of cousins already attending and I don’t recall being afraid, however, I didn’t speak any English, and Mr. R. Sommerfeld, my Grade 1 teacher, spoke the same mother tongue as I did, which came in very handy. In no time I was bilingual! He got me off to a great start!
All of my teachers had an impact on my life. In Grade 2 Mrs. Hannah taught us arts and crafts. We spent time making various items such as pom-pom cushion tops, made with yarn on a frame, and plaster of paris ornaments that we painted. To this day, I still enjoy crafting.
A day in Grade 3 stands out like it happened yesterday. The teacher was Mr. G. Anderson. My sister and I stayed with our aunt and grandparents on cold winter days. One morning a terrible blizzard was blowing through the village.
Sang for all we were worth
Our aunt packed us a lunch in a basket and walked us to school. We were the only two students attending that day. Even the kids next door to the school didn’t venture out. We didn’t learn a thing that day. Instead, we played with the Anderson’s little blond preschooler.
I vividly remember my country school Christmas concert when I was in Grade 4. Our teacher, Mr. J. Worobetz, in his red flannel shirt, directed the rehearsals, and the end result was a choir of kids singing as we never had before. We had no choice but to sing for all we were worth. He was a rather stern kind of guy.
In Grades 5 and 6, Mrs. A. Bain taught me so much, from primary and secondary colours to the musical notes. The little I know about reading music I learned from her in the classroom.
She introduced us to books and read a chapter a day out of stories written by L.M. Montgomery and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our school library was very small, and new books were exchanged every so often. The first book I read was The Long Winter by Laura I. Wilder.
Lunches carried in syrup pails
Mrs. J. Shick in Grade 7 taught us respect, integrity, and responsibility. She was a great lady. There was no gymnasium but we had no problem exercising ourselves. Games we played during recess and noon hour were prisoner’s base, pum-pum-pull-away, kick the can, and Anti-I-Over. Hopscotch was very popular in the springtime. I sometimes wonder if any of these activities are still being played.
There was no indoor plumbing at the school and the outhouses were not a favourite place to visit in the wintertime. We, however, did not have to resort to using catalogue pages, like many others did in those times.
There was no cafeteria for us country kids, either. Our lunches were carried in syrup pails or too-large lunch kits. When staying with our grandparents in town, we felt so special in that we could eat the noon meal with them.
We’d listen to a program on the radio while we ate German pancakes or ruhvei, always with white sugar sprinkled on both foods. Those were the days!