Appalachia

School Memories from Haywood County NC

sue cole

Sue Cole 2009

As my mind worried about the folks suffering in Haywood County yesterday I was reminded of a lady I interviewed from the area back in 2009.

We talked about a lot of things, mostly her family and what it was like growing up in Canton, NC.

Here’s portion of what she told me about school.

“I went to Spring Hill school in Haywood County, NC. We had school about 8 months out of the year cause children had to help their parents with the planting of the garden and the harvesting of the garden.

The school had two potbellied stoves. Some of the older boys were responsible for getting in the kindling and the coal. We had to go outside to use the bathroom or wash our hands. We had a three hole outhouse and you were allowed to use three sheets of paper. There was a pump outside for getting water.

There was a cloak room in the school to put your coats in and it had a little store in it. You could buy BB Bats Candy for a penny, pencils for a penny, and tablets for a nickle. We always wrote on both sides of our tablets to make them last longer.

Our teachers were Gay and Evelyn Chambers, they were husband and wife and were also our Pastor and Sunday School teachers. Each day someone would read a Bible verse we’d have a devotion and then we’d say the pledge to the flag.

All the children looked forward to Fridays cause we had music. Mrs. Chambers would play the piano and we would sing. It was really fun.

I remember we cut out the Alphabet from paper. The paper was folded and you used your imagination to cut out the letters. We did this for art.

One thing I’ll always remember, there was a little boy whose mother had passed away, he didn’t have much of anyone to take care of him. Each morning when he got to school Mrs. Chambers would heat water on the stove and wash his little body. She also made sure he had food to eat each day.

Things have changed a lot since I was in school. Mr. and Mrs. Chambers were good people and that’s for sure.

—Sue Cole 2009


I hope you enjoyed Sue’s memories. I could tell by the twinkle in her eye she dearly loved the Chambers and truly enjoyed her school days at Spring Hill School in Haywood County NC.


Recent Celebrating Appalachia videos: The Best Church Dessert in Appalachia, and The Truth about Entertainment in Appalachia.

Tipper

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexis
    August 21, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    The teacher’s kindness to the little boy really touched me. Thank you for sharing the story.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 20, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Can you imagine the abuse a man named Gay today would have to endure? It would make Johnny Cash’s Sue look like the easy life. But in the early 20th century it was fairly common. I see it often enough in old newspaper articles and obituaries. I looked through my family just to see how many men had that as their first and found eleven. I’m sure there are that many more whose middle name is Gay.
    Rev. Gay Edward Chambers would have had to hide behind Ed or Edward these days but in those days the word nor the name had negative connotations. Unfortunately Gay Chambers is not in my family tree. I wish he were. They were good people. They had no children of their own so they adopted the whole community. At school they pointed the children toward the right path in life and at the churches they pastored the adults also.

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 20, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    Mrs. Cagle,Mrs. Montgomery, Mrs. Thomas,Mr. Hill,Mrs. Hicks, and Mrs. Flanagan,were my elementary school teachers. (Appreciate You)I believe their teaching positions were more than just a job, but a Higher Calling. Thanks Tipper, Sue Cole,Gay and Evelyn Chambers, You are All A Good Example and Good Teachers. Once again alot of Good Memories Flowing.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 20, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Schools were consolidated the year I began school. I went to “beginners day” at the little community school and have always remembered a little film the teacher showed us about some kittens. I remember the teacher coming to our house to talk about my brother’s progress in first grade!

    I know there are advantages in the bigger schools, but I think a lot was lost in the transition. Also, I think the breaking of school into middle and high school was not for the best. I went to first eighth grades in one building and I think the presence of little kids really influenced the behavior of big kids for good.

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    August 20, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Yes enjoyed hearing her shared memories . We had alot of fun in our school days growing up …we were always ready to go back to school after summer but always ready to get out for summer ..Even now sometimes right before school starts they’ll be a day where the air is beginning to crisp up and the clouds are puffy in the sky …and I take a whiff of the air and say this smells and feels like a first day of school

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      August 20, 2021 at 10:10 pm

      I see a poem in the making there!

  • Reply
    harry adams
    August 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

    My mother always talked about the one room school she attended and then the big school later. she believed in education and scrimped and did without to send the 4 of us to college. she took a lot of abuse from my father and relatives for it. “The cotton mill was good enough for the rest of them and it would be for us.” When I took her to Hawaii and Alaska, she couldn’t wait to show the pictures to them.

    When you look back on school teachers, you can pick out the ones there because they liked teaching and the ones there for a job.

  • Reply
    Marsha Davis
    August 20, 2021 at 10:04 am

    An interesting portrait of how schools used to be. They had a cloakroom. I haven’t hear that term used in about 20 years when I went to England on Educational Tours. We arrived at our hotel a little early so we were told we could “put our cases in the cloakroom”. I believed we then walked down to the “apothecary” to get some ibruprofin.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 20, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Oh me, a look back at what I call “Mayberry America”. It shows us just how much, and in what directuon, we have changed. We need these reminders now more than ever because we have about three adult generations now who have no first-hand experience with that America and so cannot know the difference personally. Yet each of those three generations do know that within their own time things have changed.

    As Jeremiah said, “Mine eye affecteth my heart… ”

    Blessings on each of those with a caring and a giving heart. They have always made a difference in the lives they touch.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 20, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I enjoyed her memories. I went to a one-teacher school in Union County, GA. Antioch Elementary. It was located where the parking lot is for Antioch Baptist Church on Gum Log Rd. My mother, Alice Mauney Byers, was our teacher. No electricity..a Wood Saver stove for heat. We had a cloak room too…where we put our coats and lunches. Lunch was usually sorghum and biscuit wrapped in wax paper and carried in an old lard or sorghum bucket. Most of my first grade friends have passed on…Wendell Patterson, Frances Fair, W.H. McCarter, Hubert Morgan, Shirleen Towery..

  • Reply
    Gigi
    August 20, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Our schools did have bathrooms, I like that. We didnt have that at home. Yes things has really changed. My mom said ,they had to walk to school and it was a good ways. We did have to walk every once in awhile because of the snow. The bus couldn’t get to our house. It was back up in a holler he was afraid he would get stuck or slide off the rock road.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 20, 2021 at 7:39 am

    I think that is the same part of Canton that my grandparents live in. They went to Spring Hill Church and lived just down the hill from it. It is beautiful country there. My grandparents are both long gone so they were older than Sue. I wonder of that school was in or part of the Spring Hill Church.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 20, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Those school memories are good ones. I have vivid memories of my own, some of the earliest being in the country with a one-room school house, also with a big stove up front. Each day the teacher would pick two people to take the chalk board erasers outside and dust them. She always had plenty of volunteers because that was sorta like an extra recess. I actually liked the schools in the city better. They had inside bathrooms and a nice cafeteria. Also, Mrs. Rogers, 2nd grade, was my favorite, all-time teacher. They would always have music and she would lead us in it. She was also very much a humanitarian, bringing small gifts for us during special occasions. In high school, Mrs. Hale, our Bible teacher, was my favorite, always encouraging us to do more than we thought possible and hosting parties at her home for us. Looking back, I understand how these teachers taught me more than just the ABCs. They taught me that you can do much more than you think possible if you apply yourself and have confidence in your own abilities. Good life’s lessons.

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