Life in a Small School In Goldbar, Washington

with Memories of Anna May

My older sister was almost three years older than me. While I  was young we played together quite a bit but as we got older she was into things that I wasn’t so we weren’t as close.

When we lived in Gold Bar, Washington, a little town 45 miles East of Seattle on Highway 2 we went to a little school where the first to the eighth grade only had 64 students total. Gold Bar had been larger during the gold rush days and had had a grade school and high school. In the early 50s the school was already very old but it was large with a gym, cafeteria, a library and lots of empty classrooms, but with just 64 students we only had 3 teachers, one of which was also the principal. We did have a cook so we had hot lunches that were pretty good. With just 3 teachers the sixth, seventh and eighth grades were in the same room with the principal was our teacher. I was in the sixth grade and sat on one side of the room with the other 6th graders and Anna May sat on the far side with the other eighth graders. While the teachers gave the 6th graders a lesson the other students were expected to study on their own.

Recess was for all the kids at the same time and we would sometimes have a softball game or play work-up. For those of you that haven’t played work-up, There were no teams just the batter against the rest of the players. If a player caught a fly he was immediately advanced to the pitcher, otherwise if the bater was put out he would go to the outfield and each player would move up one position until he was at bat again. Since there was no umpire, strikes were when the batter swung but missed and balls were not counted.

We lived in Gold Bar just one year and there weren’t many new kids at the school so we endured a certain mount of hazing but we did make friends eventually.

I remember we had some snow and school was out for a few days. That may be why the principal decided not to take Washington’s Birthday off as we normally did. Some of the older kids decided to organize a boycott and almost all the kids hid across the street after they all got to school by bus or otherwise, Anna May included. I didn’t participate. The principal called the parents of the missing kids and eventually everyone came to school.

We lived on a small farm about three miles out of town on a gravel road. I remember riding my bike to school one warm spring day. It was a bit of a slog. I only did it once.

Our bus Traveled all the way up to Index, a small town farther up the pass highway. In the morning we were close to the end of the route so it didn’t take long to get to school but in the afternoon we had a bus ride of nearly an hour. The high school kids were also on the bus and some times they were rowdy. Once the driver stopped the bus out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere and said “OFF” , despite protests the offending students exited the bus. A few minutes later a honking car passed the bus. Hanging out the windows were the “bad kids” who were overjoyed that one of their friends happened by right after they had been ejected. I remember how the bus driver chuckled good naturedly as they went by.

The last stop before leaving the gravel road was the stop for a family that lived several miles up a very primitive road that the bus could not go on. They were a large family and extremely poor. They wore miss matched clothing which seemed worn out. When it was cold they wore old ill fitting ski boots. We didn’t have much extra but we looked well groomed compared to them. The oldest boy was in the 8th grade and was a shy even self-conscious boy. He quite secretly had a crush on the pretty and popular girl who, when she became aware of it, attacked him viciously slapping him and yelling at him, like he had done a terrible thing. I felt very sorry for him. The principal intervened and told him that he could go home if he wanted, which meant He would have to walk several miles. He did.

One day we came to school to discover that a skunk had fouled the air of the building we had our classes in. Evidently a dog had chased it under the school. The odor was pretty bad. The teacher didn’t think that it was that bad and thought we should be able to endure it quietly. That was not to be, we all put up such a fuss that he soon relented and we moved to the other building for our classes. I think the day was pretty much a loss as far as book learning went.

I remember writing a paper for this teacher. The subject assigned was: Should a child receive an allowance. I thought as all the students,  Of Course! But in the paper I said it depended upon how he used it and whether he earned it or not. The teacher was impressed enough to make a point of talking to me about my paper, asking me where I had learned these concepts. I guess most of the students didn’t respond this way. I can’t remember what I said but of course I learned it at home and at church where important values are learned, Indeed that is the only place that values can be learned by that age.


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One Response to Life in a Small School In Goldbar, Washington

  1. Peggy Jones says:

    I am feeling a lot of pity for that poor kid. You always hope that somehow those kids find their way out of poverty, but that usually isn’t the case. I didn’t know most of these stories.

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