A few years ago, I attended a wedding reception held in our old one-room schoolhouse. A woman who long ago worked at our farm, and who has since married and settled in Pennsylvania, came back for a reception. As I greeted old friends and met new friends around a picnic table outside, I enjoyed the singing and music that filled our tiny schoolhouse. As usual, I was asked again to tell the story of the schoolhouse.
My husband’s father and aunts and uncles and neighbors grew up learning the basics of reading, arithmetic and writing from within its walls. Originally, the children attended grades 1 through 12. There was a teacher and occasional pianist, but mainly the older children taught the younger. Nick’s father, Ivan, didn’t stay for all 12 grades. In his last couple years of schooling, he chose to ride a horse 8 miles into Moscow every day to finish out his formal schooling. He would stop along the way to pick up a neighbor girl who sat behind him for the long ride.
The school was surrounded by the town of Blaine. During better times, there was a church, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop and hardware store. All that remains today is the schoolhouse.
Although Nick has always said “we own it” (“we” meaning the surrounding neighbors), I wondered how the ownership showed up on county records. The county told me that the school district owned it. They of course didn’t KNOW they owned it. I wasn’t sure what changes might occur if the “city folk” in town ever claimed it. Nick visited one of our elderly neighbors. He had kept records and minutes conducted by the official Blaine Community Association. Prior to easy travel and TV, entertainment meant getting together with your neighbors. Often in the minutes, they voted to “have a party.” I imagine some pretty good potlucks and poker games took place.
In with the records was a copy of the original deed in which the school district sold the schoolhouse in 1947 to the Blaine Community Association for the sum of $2.00. And so, we “own it.” Presently, during the summers our schoolhouse is used for birthday parties, square dances, special gatherings, drum circles and Sunday morning Quaker services. A few summers ago, the maker of Porsche automobiles borrowed the schoolhouse for a photo shoot. They put a temporary bell tower on top and built a ‘take-down’ set of swings for the yard. It was quite a production. We never saw the advertisement, but were told that our schoolhouse made it into the ad. And, no, we weren’t offered a new Porsche.
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