Here we are all bunched up together for a photo documenting our excursion from Rheems Elementary School to the library in town about 3 miles away. But we’ll soon board buses, and go back to our two-room school-house in Rheems where we’ll probably have lunch or recess. And we’ll lose our serious faces, eyes agape.
Recess, yes! After Miss Longenecker, grades 1- 4, or Mrs. Kilhefner, grades 5 – 8, excuses us, we all scram out to the playground equipped with a slide, see-saw, and jungle gym with bars for climbing and twirling our bodies around. Before we go back to class, most of us will pay a visit to the typical wooden outhouses, one for girls and one for boys, right next to each other and both regularly anointed with lime to quell the smell.
Group Outdoor Games:
1. Softball (Need an extra inning? Teachers, not so pressured by students’ test scores, may extend our play.)
2. Red Rover “Red Rover, Red Rover,” let ________ come over!) involving mad dashes around school building.
3. Crack the Whip Classmates in a line, running, then strong body at one end stops short, so others flip around. Cheap thrill!
4. Tag When someone chases you down on the playground and touches you, you are IT!
Games with Just a Few:
1. Simon says
3. Four square
4. Jump rope
5. Double jump rope Each child has a handle on two different jump ropes and flicks them one at a time in opposite directions. “I dare you not to trip up!”
Rainy Day Games:
2. Pick Up Sticks
3. Tiddly-Winks (Players try to snap small plastic disks into a cup by pressing them on the edge with a large disk.)
Treat for Teacher:
Someone, probably Ralph, announces in the middle of class “Fruit Roll!” and kids behind every desk in class jump up with an apple, orange, or grapefruit to roll along the oiled, wooden schoolhouse floor toward the teacher’s desk, an unexpected treat! [In an era when teachers fear spit balls or worse–guns! even, such a gesture is most endearing.]
I wish I could show a photo of the school and outhouses, but one cold evening during Christmas vacation, the school burned down, suspiciously, and was replaced by a standard- issue concrete structure, not nearly as nostalgic as the steepled one with a bell that I remember.
I was already in junior high in the big school uptown when the fire occurred, but my sister Janice remembers being shifted to Washington School, the building adjacent to Bossler’s Mennonite Church, where our Daddy and Aunt Ruthie attended. This old school had a large furnace in the basement with a sizable flat top, and students would bring potatoes wrapped in foil to bake on top of the furnace for a nice hot lunch on cold, cold days.
Like Mildred Armstrong Kalish in her memoir, Little Heathens, depicting Iowa farm and school life during the Depression, I have fond, fond memories of Rheems Elementary School in the 1950s.
Fun time resource for parents, grandparents:
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Add some memorable games to the list!