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My West Robbins School Days

Dan Gibson, author
Copyright 2001

My mind wonders back to my school days in the 1950's in the West Robbins community of Scott County Tennessee. My family lived down the road a little ways from the school. I was the youngest of four children. My brother Donny and my sisters Joan and Fay walked to school every morning. I was four years old and too young to attend school. Over these many years I have enjoyed hearing my mother tell the story how I was enrolled in school at the young age of four.
Mother would say, "The older children would head off to school each morning and more often than not Danny Wayne would end up following them to school. I would have to run after him and bring him back home. He would scream and cry all the way home. I would try to tell him he was too little to go to school and that he would have to wait until he was a little older. Sometimes he would make it all the way to the school and the teacher would have Fay to bring him back home. One day the teacher had given a note to Fay to bring home to me. The note said she wanted me to come to the school the next morning. The next morning with me holding Danny Wayne's hand and Donny, Joan and Fay in tow, we headed to the school. The teacher told me that Danny seemed like a bright lad and she thought it would be best if I would let her go ahead and enroll him in the primmer class. In a few weeks she would know if Danny Wayne would be able to keep up with the rest of the class. If not he would have to wait until the next year. To make a long story short in two weeks she reported to me that Danny Wayne was doing as well as any child in her class. So that is how Danny Wayne started school so early and was able to graduate from high school at the age of six-teen."
All the children attended the West Robbins School situated in the center of the community. The school was a three room building with a large playground in the front. Two outhouses and a coal house was located behind the school. In the winter time the school was heated by a large coal stove in each room. There were large windows in the front and the sides of the building. The community was very proud of their school. When my mother was a child she attended a drafty, one room school in the Black Creek community a few miles down the road.
Two wonderful ladies, Miss O'zee and Miss Tiny, were the teachers at the school during this time. Miss Tiny taught the grades primmer through five and Miss O'zee taught grade six to the eight. The closest high school was in the town of Robbins a few miles away. They were very dedicated teachers. These were times when teachers were allowed to give their students loving hugs. They also had the right to give a few, good swats to our behinds with their paddle they always kept in view on top of their desks. I will have to say I do not remember many times when the paddles were used.
Recess was our favorite time of the day. We had one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I have many fond memories of these times spent in the school yard. The game the boy's favored most was playing marbles. Every boy had a bag of marbles. I kept my treasured marbles in a country gentlemen tobacco sack tuck deep in the pocket of my jeans. At home I would keep them in an old cigar box with my pocket knife, old car keys my dad had given me and my other valuables. We would draw a round circle with a stick on the hard dirt ground and the marble game would begin! I can still hear the sound of voices from all those games.
"Danny Wayne you fudged on that shot." "No I didn't!" "I'll trade my steelie for your tollie."
Before you went to bed at night every boy would check his sack of marbles to see if he had gained any new treasures. Cat-eye marbles were always a favorite of mine. If you felt like you did not do so good in the game or trading you knew there would always be another marble game the next day at school. Sometimes these games would result in a push and shove quarrel and raised voices with the teacher coming out to intervene. The two found guilty were sent inside for the duration of the recess time. By the time the next recess rolled around everyone was friends again. The girls on the other hand played games such as jump rope, hop scotch and jacks. I will have to say they behaved better than the boys! Sometimes the teachers would organize a baseball game where the boys and girls played together. Another game the teachers would have us all play would be drop the handkerchief. Yes we sure had fun at recess and we all dreaded when Miss O'zee or Miss Tiny would come out on the porch of the school and ring the hand bell singling recess was over.
Looking back now I know it was the teachers and the students that kept the school clean. We all had certain jobs to do. It was the older boy's job to carry coal in from the coal house and the younger children would gather kindling and firewood from the woods. You felt very special if you were the one the teacher asked to clean the black board with a wet cloth at the end of the day. In the Fall we all enjoyed raking leaves in several huge piles. I guess to the teachers dismay, we would also enjoy jumping into the piles of leaves and playing and then have to rake them all over again. I have a strange feeling that Miss O'zee and Miss Tiny probably enjoyed watching us play.
We knew when they would say, "Children that's enough playing in those leaves." We all knew the playing part was over..
Yes, I have many, many fond memories of going to school in West Robbins. It was a more peaceful time and not so fast paced as the world we live in today.
Thank you Miss O'zee and Miss Tiny for your love and guidance through those early years!

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