How Times Have Changed

Every so often I see in the newspaper where kids who go to some school in Wake County, North Carolina, my county, were sent home early because the school’s air conditioner went on the blink.  It was so hot the little darlings couldn’t concentrate.

It used to not be that way.

I started to school in the late 1940s, in Glencoe, Alabama.  Air conditioning had been invented but my school didn’t have it. It didn’t have indoor plumbing, either. There were privies outside, one for the boys, one for the girls.

Potbelly stove, courtesy of Museum of Appalachia
Potbelly stove, courtesy of Museum of Appalachia

In the winter, each class room was heated with a potbelly stove, and the stove in my room glowed red hot.

Some of the windows in my third grade classroom had been knocked out and, apparently, there was no money to fix them. So when it got cold the teacher wadded up newspapers and stuffed them in the holes.

The second floor room next to my classroom had burned. How they got the fire out before the whole building went up I’ll never know, but they did. No money to repair it either, apparently, but they didn’t board it up. They just warned us.

“You children stay out of that room,” the teacher said, “or you’ll fall through the floor.”

Coming Monday: Those Mean Old Newspapermen

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