… and that’s the way she taught us.

Rhoda Dalby Young, 1935 (courtesy of the Dalby/Young family)

They had a two-room schoolhouse [in Westover, Maryland]. In fact, it had been a big two-room – a double one – but we had our school in one of [them]. The other was used for library books and special supplies. Miss Mary Wetsel – she was a Catholic – and she taught five grades.

I [started] the second grade [in Lower Northampton County] and had Ms. Hurt. … and that’s where I had my first little boyfriend. Billy … he gave me a little cage with a key on it that had a little bird in it, and you’d turn that and the little bird would sing. … But in the second grade Billy called Ms. Hurt one day, and he had a bracelet and it had “Rhoda Dalby” on it. His mother had bought it for him. He was asking her to fasten it for him, and she was all smiles there doing that. But anyway, he asked me if I wanted to wear it, and I said, “No, I don’t want to wear it.”

But anyway, going back to the one-room schoolhouse, there would be, as you go in the front, we had a bucket of water on the table in the back with a cup, and we had two little johns outside. That way was the boys, and that way was the girls, and I was in the second grade, so I was not in the first aisle as you came in.  That was the first grade.  The second was the second grade. And the last – there were not that many in the second grade, so the row was finished out with the third graders. 

And then there was a big pot-belly stove filled with coal, and they had a zinc thing around it to keep it from – the children from falling against it.  So, the other side, you went to the fourth on the far wall and then the fifth against that stove. 

She was fabulous. She was an old maid – Miss Mary – but she was sweet to us. There was a big blackboard in the back of the room and a long, like a church bench in front of it, so she would take grade one and maybe with grade one, she’d have a thing up there with birds. “How many birds? Did you see a Robin?” “One” or whatever, and that’s the way she taught us.  

And then, of course, we would progress and we three little girls would go to visit her in the summertime.  I remember, one year, she went across the country, and so we went and visited with her and sat and listened to her story about going across the country.  We were like that.  

…  Mother sewed, so we had little dresses, not many, but she made everything we wore.  We would go and visit up and down in Westover … everybody [would say] “those little Dalby girls” but we enjoyed life there.

from an interview with Rhoda Dalby Young, summer 2009


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