Schools of Yesterday: Moscow School
Compiled by McRae Limerick
from the "Kemper County Messenger", Mar 11, 1937
"I do not know what man was put on earth for, but to me it seems sure he was put here to be successful" ...Robert Louis Stevenson.
On a train in from Hartford I met a fine looking young New York banker. I made the remark, "life is a game where you make nine sacrifice hits to one home run." He replied, "exactly."
And, I almost forgot. One Saturday I was riding into DeKalb and met a fine looking young buck on a good horse on the same errand as myself--our monthly pay. He was getting one hundred eighty dollars for his four month's work and I ask him how much he would save out of that and he replied as a matter of course, "one hundred eighty dollars."
He lived at home, would ride six miles to his school every morning and get there by seven and then ride home again about dark, for it was strictly against rules in those days to try to run a school after the sun went down, and often would help with the chores and work Saturdays to pay his father board, I forgot his name, too, a Clark, Overstreet, Stennis, Harbour, Gully, Adams or something or other. I never saw him again, but happen to know that he is a well-to-do farmer, lawyer, doctor or something like that (unless he happens to have been sent to the penitentiary or Congress) and also that he now had a bunch of fine boys and girls for grandchildren who honor their own names by paying heartfelt respect to "Grandpa".
"How so I know all that? Easy children. In this life the crop you sow as young folks is what you reap in later life, and don't let anyone lie to you about that either." The times have never changed the way seed sprout and grow and never will.
Well now, about Moscow and Thompson.
In the early days, the best teachers we had were nearly all Irish. Fifty years back I was riding with a big strapping prairie farmer who told me a a school in his boyhood. The fathers wanted their children to go get "eddication" (and their girls to know how to read and write, anyway) so they could "figger" as well as the store keepers and read the Bible as well as the preacher, and the boys wanted to get the "eddication" too, but they could not understand that they had to submit to any sort of discipline, except that their fathers handed out and when the teacher tride to keep order they would chunk him out the window and that was that. If father tried to thrash one of those young rough necks (no, he would not fight his own father) he would just leave home, go off a dozen miles or so, get work on a farm, buy a piece of land, marry the employers daughter, and bring home a grandchild or two to see the old man; and what could a father do.
There came along a double-jointed Irishman (in those days the best schools in the world were in Ireland. Even in my day one of the best superintendents New York ever had got his education in Northern Ireland) and when they found out he had an education he was asked to teach for them. When he found out what he would be up against, his old eye lighted up and he said, "Yes I will teach it."
He had a fine voice
like a woman's and opened school as follows:
Well, he licked four of those big huskies before noon, but of course, the worst came up at home when father slyly joshed them about throwing the teacher out as usual, but one thing the fellows could not do was to be a quitter. Getting licked by the teacher might be humiliation, but being a quitter would be a disgrace. He would have to leave home.
Well after two schools the teacher refused to teach there longer in spite of the folks who wanted to make him a permanent feature of the landscape, but he gave an old-time "examination" in which they were put through all the paces to show what they could read, write, and do sums, etc., and then he parted with this advise, "Whoever gave you the notion these were bad boys? They are good boys. All they wanted to know was if there was a man around (and not such bad sense either, for our times or any other).
Well, in our history, Thompson was about the last of those old-fashioned Irish Teachers, and from what I know of him it must have suited folks in Moscow and the next morning half or three quarters of my school was absent. In that day, I hope it is much the same still, folks were intensely jealous of the reputation of their daughters and even the shadow of suspicion was to them a fearsome thing.
Again, those people were right. I am proud that they still gave me a warm friendship even in my loss.
Today, if I were instituting a school, I should demand an intense concentration in work that would make cigarettes and any disturbing emotions such as are very likely to be caused by the other sex, impossible.
Are you tired of
this story of failures? Well, maybe you are tired of life too. However,
I am not. I now had two hundred and started in for college -- the old A.
& M. was my choice. I had had a lot of classical training and needed
more science and mathematics. Besides I needed to know more in every way
I knew it.