One-roomSchoolhouseLaughter of children once filled the little one-room schoolhouse on the prairie with life and fun and hope. Life was Leave It To Beaver rural-style before iPads, cell phones, video games, helicopter parents and single moms. In the 1950s, one-room schoolhouses like McKey in Oklahoma were common in less urban states. Everyone in the community became involved with our school. Pie suppers and cake walks, Easter pageants, Christmas programs. . . It was where people voted, held meetings, sometimes attended church. . .

Each grade had its own row in the classroom—first grade through fourth grade behind a curtain with Mrs. Lowery, fourth through eighth in the next section of the room under the tutelage of her husband. Eighth grade occupied the row nearest the door, only a few steps and a semester away from a consolidated high school in the nearest “city.”

It was an innocent age before child psychology, lawsuits and government social workers. A wooden paddle—“The Board of Education”—hung on the wall as a warning to miscreants. I was a restless kid who, were I in school today, would be on Ritalin to keep me tranquil. I held the record in seventh grade for the most number of paddlings in one day. Three!

Always afterwards, teacher hugged us to let us know we were family and loved. That was a time when teachers could still hug students.

At the start of each school year, the entire student body gathered out front for a Kodak moment. These years later when the alumni holds reunions, we look at the old group photos and try to pick out the children we once were. Doug and Johnnie and Jackie and the others. . .

Students are now gray and wrinkled and stooped, the youngest pushing 70 since the one-room schools all closed down more than a half-century ago. Left are memories and echoes of the past. And even the memories are dying as the reunions get smaller and smaller. . .

Evangelist Billy Graham once advised, “Don’t live as if this life will continue forever. It won’t. Live instead with eternity in view.”

From Devoted To Fishing by Charles W. Sasser. Available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.