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As It Was: Early School Districts Consist Mostly of One-Room Schools

Jackson County, Ore., had more than 100 school districts in the 1920s, most consisting of a single one-room school for grade one through eight.  One of them was in Climax, an isolated community with just a few families living behind Roxy Ann Peak.

Clinton “Pete” Charley told of getting his nickname from the “Pete and Polly” reader that he and a first-grade girl shared at the school.  Since roads were impassable in winter, school was held from May to November.  The children walked or rode ponies to school.

Every year the county superintendent of schools and a nurse visited.  The children, who usually went barefoot, wore their best bib overalls and shoes for the occasion.  One year the nurse insisted that each child have a tin cup for drinking water, because one cup for all was unsanitary.

Playground equipment included an old baseball and bat and a foam ball for playing “Annie Over the Woodshed” and “Red Rover.”  They also played “Hop Scotch,” “Drop the Handkerchief,” and if it was raining, “Musical Chairs.”

Most Climax children went to work after the eighth grade as high school was too far away.

Source: Charley, Clinton (Pete) M. And a Good Time Was Had by All. unpublished manuscript, 2007, pp. 16-18.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.