From Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering the teacher’s house
Last week’s column was a recollection of what it was like to be a country school teacher. In the column I wrote that my sisters and I attended the Morapos School through the eighth grade and then attended high school in Craig. I goofed. Our sister Darlene attended seven grades at Morapos and then went to eighth-grade at the Craig high school. When I talked to her a few days ago, Darlene explained that having country school kids attend eighth-grade in Craig was a sort of “trend” in those days. It was intended as a sort of transition before starting high school.
Our sister, Charlotte, visited this past weekend, and we spent time reminiscing about our country school years. There’s a lot we can’t remember — take the Morapos teacherage, for example. The word the community used for the teacher’s living quarters was “teacherage.” I can’t find the word in the dictionary so perhaps it was just used by community folks.
Anyway, the teacherage is a two-room building located next to the school. It is still there, on our family ranch property. Just how long it has been there isn’t known, but we think our mother, Judy Osborn, lived with some of the parents when she first started teaching at Morapos. The building was supposedly moved in from the Loyd Oil Camp. Mom did live in the teacherage in later years.
The two rooms consist of a kitchen and bedroom. The kitchen had a cookstove of some type, a table and chairs, washstand, and a cabinet where dishes and nonperishable food items were stored. There was no electricity in the building at first so we’re not sure how perishable items were stored. Charlotte remembers a refrigerator in the kitchen when she was in school.
There was no plumbing, so when Mom lived there, she had to pack water — at least part of the time. She told us about having to go up and down a hill to get the water. However, someone did install a pump so that it would be easier to get water. The pipe is still there. This water was for household use. Drinking water for both the teacherage and school had to be hauled in. Dad took water from the ranch in a cream can.
The bathroom was an outhouse.
The bedroom was heated by a small gas heater that was located in a corner of the room. There was a bed, vanity, and perhaps a chair. The teacher’s clothes were hung in a closet with a curtain over the entrance.
I remember getting to stay in the teacherage one night when I was in the second-grade. It was a big deal! Patty Osborn (Nicodemus) was the teacher, and I believe Alice Schneider (Haughey) and I were her only students. Because we were her students, we got to stay with Patty. Charlotte recalls how envious she was because she was too young to go to school and therefore couldn’t spend the night with us.
Anyway, it has always amazed me as to what information is stored in the brain. For example, I can’t remember if there was an icebox in the teacherage, but I can remember that during supper Patty opened a jar of home-canned peaches that hadn’t sealed, and they were spoiled. For some reason it made an impression. I also remember having a hard time going to sleep. A radio played music, and there were commercials for all sorts of products.
This is how we remember the teacher’s house.
As the United States honors the many individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, multiple ceremonies in Moffat County will pay tribute as part of the holiday.