Monday, January 25, 2010

Martha Anderson - Her Life as a Teacher

This article was taken from a transcribed tape from the Lucas County Historical Museum
The article appeared in the Lucas County Genealogical Society Newsletter January 2010
I was the second of nine children born to Fred & Muriel Anderson, four girls, then four boys and at last a little sister.  i attended Bancroft School, Garfield for Junior high and the Bancroft building for high school, later renamed the Alma Clay School.

My father worked as a carpenter and expected his boys to follow in his footsteps.  No one needed a high school education, especially not the girls.  He had to quit school after the fourth grade to help harvest the crops, as most boys did.  He could solve our problems in his head faster than we could on paper.  Many of the houses were erected by my father in Chariton and I can't drive a straight nail.

My older sister, Lois, paved the way for us and enrolled in the Normal Training Course for teachers at Bancroft school, which housed the high school at that time.  Little did she know that I would follow as she lead.  As did Agatha, Nancy, Thomas, Raymond and Glen who also became teachers.  My mother saw some of the trials and tribulations of teaching.  She prevailed upon the youngest to seek other training.

I was not old enough to teach when I graduated and could not receive my certificate until I was 18 years of age.  Until that year they had provided provisional certificates to 17 year olds, but not to me.  Too many teachers that year.  I worked at Bates Studio my first year out of school and decided that would be my life's work.  No, not me.  Chariton was having its first extension school from Cedar Falls, Iowa teacher's college and my mother planned that I should go without consulting me.  She was the one that planned with Mr. Bates that I should work afternoons in the studio and enroll in a refresher course.  My father would resent my going to Normal Training, she said, if i did not use it.

Yes, I took the refresher course and applied at Grove school.  I shall never forget my first day of school.  The first Monday in September of 1922, rain - out came the new rubber boots ,with heels, for their initiation..  I walked to Grove school, just north of Chariton on Highway 14.  I had never attended a rural school.  Here I was with a student taller than I.  Students in double seats, 26 of them.  All grades.  How to get all classes into a crowded day.

Mud at recess, mud for the teacher to clean up when the day was done.  Flies buzzing around our lunch boxes lined up against the wall in the hallway.  The stone water fountain filled with water, now hot, carried from the neighbors well early that morning.  The long roller towel well used on muddy hands before the lunch boxes could be opened.

In the afternoon, town boys, two of my brothers included who had come to watch the construction of our new shale covered road, shall I say highway, rolled mud dies into the room, no screens of course, my father thought I should have punished them on the spot.  But who was to catch them?

So this was teaching for $65 a month.

There was the Christmas program when teacher was to timid to announce the program and prevailed upon the big sister of the Apgar children to do the job.  I did have a fever blister on my lip.  The teacher and the students were standing in the drafty stairway all during the program to give room to our parents in the double seats.

Then there was the fire, caused by a faulty furnace pipe letting sparks fall on the kindling stored under it.  I had warned the director of this condition but it had not been repaired.  Nothing was saved, all my patterns and art supplies from Normal Training had gone up in smoke.  How could I begin again, I was no artist.  The cook shack of the construction company was secured and we were to begin school the first week in March.  A blizzard arrived and filled the new school house, which had to be scooped and dried out.  We used it the rest of the term.  We about froze that month and smothered the next in that little shack.

When school was out I went on a trip with my aunt and uncle without trying for a school.  When I came back, to my surprise my Dad had secured one for me and the director was waiting for my signature on the contract.  It was to teach at Whitebreast Center where I taught for 3 years.  And then one year at Hazel Dell before returning to teach at Grove in a new building which had been built.  There I taught my last three years of country school and left at $100 a month, to earn a two year diploma and accept a position at Coon Rapids at a lower salary than I had received at Grove.  It was during the depression and last of the three years I spent there was a trying one.  Teachers were paid with warrants that could not be cashed and there was no chance to get home to Chariton until some friendly person would be willing to cash and hold the warrants.

So in 1934 I returned to Chariton at a lower salary than I had even received at Coon Rapids, $87.50.  Mr. Calgall, our Superintendent, assigned me to Alma Clay, 3rd grade.  The level I taught for 35 years.  When the Alma Clay building was demolished I taught one year at Van Allen and then at Columbus 3rd grade from which I resigned in 1969.  Thus, after 46 years of teaching, drawing from $65 a month to $9,272 for 190 days.  From a school of 4 pupils at Hazel Dell after 3 pupils had moved away.  From the lunch buckets that had attracted the flies at Grove Rural School to the cafeteria duty at Alma Clay and in the new building at Van Allen and Columbus where the children were fed in the gym.  From the jacketed stove on which we heated food in fruit jars in a big boiler at Whitebreast Center and where I shook down the ashes on Friday night to be ready for a new fire on Monday when my uncle would bring me back from a week away from home.  At 6 degrees below zero one Friday night how I laid the papers for the kindling, only to find the grate had been too hot and only ashes remained to be cleaned out on Monday.  From the cook shack at Grove School to the modern restrooms at Van Allen and Columbus.

Yes, these are some of my teaching experiences, but I look back to Mrs. Gittinger with her salary of $18 to $25, I guess they call them wages, to Alma Clay my first teacher and how after I received my first degree from Drake University, I was able to return to Chariton to teach in the same building with her, the same building that had been called the Bancraft Building, until it was renamed the Alma Clay building, shortly before she passed awayl

I look back to Mrs. Elsie Newell, who taught the 8th grade overflow at the Garfield School where we sat in double seats borrowed from rural schools during the population explosion.  Yes, I was the one who slid down the bank and was rescued by her friendly hand.  I was the one who learned psalms every morning to Opal McDowell, the county superintendent who was also our Business and Professional Club President.  To Mabel Hobbs, my 8th grade teacher for one month before Mrs. Newell was hired, and, who was principal of Alma Clay when I taught 3rd grade therel

I was invited to become a charter member of the Delta Cappa Gamma society for key women teachers in 1955.  And although retired from teaching, I still have teaching at heart as I meet with the Chariton Retired Teachers and retain membership in the Iowa State Teachers Association and the National Association of Educationl

I am sure that my father influenced my teaching career.  He didn't let me stop teaching because of a burned building and the loss of my Normal teaching creations.  He was proud of his family, all teachers, three brothers married teachers and my mother too, who turned me back to teaching instead of a career in photography.


Anonymous said...

Who was Mrs. Gittinger and where did she teach?

Lynne said...

Grace Gittinger taught sometime between 1904-1956 at Union school in Warren Twp.
Mabel Gittinger taugh sometime between 1899-1957 at Mauk school in Whitebreast Twp