“School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
O'read'n and o'rit'n and o'rithmatic
taught to the tune of a
You were my queen in calico
I was your barefoot bashful beau.
And you wrote on my slate
I love you so, o'love you so
When we were a couple of kids.”
This old familiar school song was written by Will D. Cobb
with music by Guss Williams in 1907.
Last year, I had an opportunity to visit and take some photographs of Forest Valley School, a one room school house, where my mom and her siblings learned their 3-R's, read'n, rit'n and 'rithmatic, back in the '30's and '40's. Forest Valley School, District 51, is located in Lincoln Township just southeast of Wilcox, Nebraska. This rural school house was built in 1880 and continued to operate until 1946.
The old school house ain't what it used to be! Forest Valley School stands in a grove of trees that once covered about 3 acres of land before it was cleared for farming. Today, Mother Nature is trying to reclaim the property. The weathered boards that once kept the cold out are slowly decaying. Most of the roof that covered the school entry, where the children kept their coats and lunch pails, is all but gone now. The school furnishings, that cost all of $13.25 back in 1908, are all gone. Vines and weeds are growing from the rooftop and putting their roots into the cracks. Three foot high grass surrounds it. And the trees are beginning to hide the building completely. The mosquito's were so thick in the grass, that I feared for my life, so I did not venture too close to the building.
The school has been closed since 1946. But, if you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can still hear the giggles of children hiding in the trees.
(photograph of Forest Valley School is privately held,
do not use without permission).