Life at Shady Hill School


Shady Hill School….What a great place to have started our school education. We were just poor country kids coming together from families that were struggling to make a living in the 40's and 50's. Most of our homes had no indoor plumbing and no forced air heating and no air conditioning and until the early 50's, no television. Mom used to put bricks on the wood stove and warm them and wrap them in rags and put them in our beds an hour before bedtime. We slept under several quilts so we could keep warm and we hated to get up in the morning because of the cold. We drew our water from cisterns and wells and springs. Most of us grew what we ate. We had pigs and cattle and learned to milk the cows and drive the horses and plow the fields, run trotlines, and how to butcher. Living was hard and most of us kids had to do most of the work at home because our fathers worked as slaves at the American Viscose plant in South Parkersburg or at the O Ames Shovel plant or at various other plants or service stations.

Some of us would walk as much as a mile to catch the school bus in all kinds of weather. Fortunately, we had covered bus stops. Many times the school bus would get stuck in the snow and we had to help the bus driver get it out of the snow. Of course there were times when we would try to keep the bus hung up so we would be late for school. In the winter when we would arrive at school maybe thirty minutes before school started and would go to our classrooms only to find that our teacher hadn't arrived and the room was cold because the fire in the pot-belled stove was not started. We would go to the coalhouse and get a bucket of coal and have the stove ready to start a fire when the teacher arrived.

Most of the kids at Shady Hill School were bussed to school. Harold Finch drove buss #14 and made two runs every day. One run was to Butcher Hill and the other run was to Sugar Camp Road. He would usually pick us up at Butcher hill around 7AM and I think we were his last run after school. Doc (Cecil) Morrison drove buss #31 and he parked it on Butcher Hill just above the Riggs farm. He carried mostly Jr. High and High school kids and his route took him around Society Hill Road and down Scarce of Fat Road and then out Turkey Foot Road. He then stopped at the mouth of Sam's Creak Road to allow the grade school kids to get off and walk the short distance to Shady Hill and then he went on to Franklin Jr. High and then to PHS.

Roscoe Knight drove buss #19 and picked up kids from Slate Creak and Leach Town. He then stopped at the mouth of Sam's Creak Road to allow the grade school kids to get off and walk the short distance to Shady Hill and then he went on to Franklin Jr. High and then to PHS.

Wanda Brown (Melrose) told me that there was also a bus that came from Rockport that she rode but I don't remember it. She said that it would let them off also at the mouth of Sam's Creak Road and then it went on to Franklin Jr. High and then to PHS. She didn't remember the buss number.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were special times and it was always fun making decorations for the tree and decorating our rooms with our artwork. At Christmas we would put our names in a can and take turns drawing out a name of one of our classmates to get a present for and then place all the presents under the tree. Those of us who were in school in 1947 will never forget Gene Autry's Christmas song that he wrote called, "Here Comes Santa Clause!" Then in 1949 his number 1 hit of "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer!" These songs are still played every Christmas!

Our teachers would stress the importance of learning to read and would sometimes read books to us. I remember in the third grade Mrs. Roberts or Mrs. Michaels read the book Heidi to us. Mrs. Roberts also read Huck Finn to us. Miss. Bonnie Kerr was a traveling teacher and would come to the school and tell us stories. This inspired me to like to read and I read several books in our library. Below are two cetificates that I got for reading.

I remember that when it came time to have our pictures taken, the boys would stand around the pump and get water to comb their hair with.

We had a very nice basement in the main school building that was used as a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and an auditorium. It had a stage in it where we would have plays. It also had a kitchen in it and the cooks were very good. I can still remember trying to get extra cookies. You could eat in the cafeteria for twenty five cents a day. The teachers also had tickets and you could buy a weeks tickets for one dollar. When I was older, I would take my quarter and go over to the service station and get a bag of penny candy, an all day sucker, gum and an ice cream bar, all for a quarter. I remember that usually one or two times a month we would have movies and cartoons shown in the basement. I can remember seeing the movie, Rin Tin Tin, and a lot of cartoons.

Before and during lunchtime we played a lot of games. We played Red Rover, Kick Ball, Football, Softball, Marbles, etc. During the winter on the hill to the left of the school we would make a long sliding track when it snowed which would become ice and very easy to bust your derriere. In the picture below you can see the hill that we would slide on. We made the slide on the hill running in the picture from right to left. As you can see, this was quite long. Also on that hill between two trees they put a 1" pipe and we would take turns at skinning the cat. Around 1950 the Board of Education installed a monkey bar ladder to the right side of the main building for us to play on.

The girls were very good at skipping rope. When it was too cold to play outside during recess the boys would play inside with yo-yo's and many of the kids would braid bracelets with strings of plastic. I can remember when I was in the seventh grade Mr. Melrose got us boys to playing softball and set up a game between Shady Hill and Rockport. We waited for them to come to Shady Hill to play and when they didn't show up one of the parents loaded us in the back of a big truck and we headed down Rt. 21 towards Rockport. About half way there we met them coming to Shady Hill so we turned around and went back. We lost the game. Their pitcher was very fast and we weren't used to batting against fast pitching. We had a lot of fun and they were very nice.

In May of every year we would have a special play day with the school at Pettyville. Every other year it would be at Shady Hill School. We had a lot of competitive games like broad jump, softball throw, high jump, races, etc. We also had a Maypole event as shown in the picture below to the tune of Pop Goes The Weasel.

Look at the old cars in the background. I think they are 39 Chevy's. If you look at the far side of the fifth grade classroom you can see the coal house. Also if you will look closely at the Fifth Grade Classroom building you will see that by the time this picture was taken they had added a porch onto the building that wasn't there in the picture shown on our main page.

This is Wanda Brown, Mary Grace Deem, and Pearl Duckworth at the 1953 Play Day at Pettyville. They were in the seventh grade.

The school year would end with the School Patrol kids being rewarded with a trip by Greyhound bus to Washington, DC. Other students could go but would have to pay their own way. What a great trip this was. We had a blast on the bus. Going to DC some of us boys had squirt guns. Needless to say, we got in trouble with them and they were taken away from us.

I can remember stopping for a break on our way to DC in Clarksburg and hearing the number seven hit parade song playing on the jute box, Seven Lonely Days. We got to DC sometime in the early morning and began touring the Capitol. Several of us boys had to show our machoism by walking up the stairs at the Washington Monument. Wow! What a mistake that was.

That evening we went to an amusement park and had a lot of fun. Later we stayed in a hotel and again some of us boys went to a soda shop and pigged out on ice cream.

Dave Johnson & Fred Lambert in DC

Coming back from DC some of us gathered at the back of the bus and played games and sang. We sang, "I'll Fly Away" a lot. I don't think we slept at all.

What a way to end our time at Shady Hill School. We were teenagers now and had to say good by to Shady Hill and start a new adventure in our educational career at the new Ben Franklin Jr. High School in South Parkersburg. We will always remember the wonderful days that we spent at Shady Hill School.