By Audrey Jean Amacher
One room school houses dotted the early landscapes and one room pretty well describes the structures. No electricity or inside plumbing. Water for drinking or cleaning up came from an outside pump.
Bracken School was located northeast of Farmer City about three miles.
The teacher would call children into the classes by ringing a hand bell, also recess time was called and ended by ringing the hand bell. Pupils would assemble in the hallway and go quietly to their desks to begin their studies (sometimes the hand bell would be rung to call for quiet time, if students were unduly noisy.). The schedule usually consisted of school starting at 8 a.m. with a 10 a.m. recess, lunchtime at 12, afternoon session at 1 p.m. with a recess at 2 or 2:30 p.m. and school dismissing at 4 p.m. for the day.
On entering the school, one found themselves in a short hallway with shelves on each side. Lunch boxes and tin drinking cups were arranged on them. Drinking cups were placed on hooks above the owners name. Rest rooms were outside, one unit for boys and a separate one for girls. One side of the main room was a coatroom for girls and the other side for boys.
The main room of the Bracken school had a row of windows on the east and also the west sides. A large long blackboard on the north side and a fire escape on the east side (this was an added feature in the late 30’s or early 40’s). a hanging kerosene lamp hung near the center of the ceiling affording light for the room. A large stove (furnace), coal and wood burning in the back of the room, afforded the only heat.
Several rows of desks lined the main room. There were two types of desks used. The older desks had an opening along the front for books, papers, etc. Newer desks had a lift top lid and an attached seat. A piano occupied the east side of the room with the teacher’s desk a few feet away near the blackboard located on the north side.
During school session the teacher would call the particular class to the front to recited the subject: reading, arithmetic, history, geography, etc., the blackboard being used to emphasize the particular subject.
Sometimes on rainy, snowy or cloudy days when the lighting was not particularly good, the teacher would stand by the windows and read stories, poems to the group and have discussions on them also on current events.
Most took their lunches and ate outside or at their desk depending on the weather.
Playground equipment consisted of swings, a slide and a teeter-totter. Games played were tag, green light-red light, crack the whip, baseball, and fox & goose (when there had been a snowfall).