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Thursday, November 11, 2010

School Days Part I

My blog friend, Tina, is from Abraham, another tiny Millard County town adjacent to my home town of Hinckley. Her most recent blog post reminiscing about her school bus driver, brought back memories of the Hinckley school bus driver. His name was Arlo Taylor, the thing I remember most about him was how terrified I was of him. Before I rode a bus (because I didn’t have to go into Delta until Junior High School), Arlo was the custodian at Hinckley Elementary School. That gave me several vulnerable years to develop a suitable fear of him so by the time I rode his bus, I wouldn't even make eye contact with him let alone say a word.

Because of my many memories associated with those school years, I decided to do a series of blog posts about attending school in Hinckley Elementary and Delta High School.

Here is the first in the series about Hinckley Elementary which was originally the Millard Academy completed in 1912. Later it became Hinckley High School and was used in that capacity until 1953 when it changed to Hinckley Elementary School. The community didn’t have enough students to warrant having a teacher for every grade so the second graders were split between first and third and the fifth graders were split between fourth and sixth. Even still, the biggest class I ever had was 18 students.
This is how the building currently looks with the doors boarded up and all the window missing. It was a beautiful, stately and well-proportioned building with many large trees surrounding it and a large playground to the northwest side and several baseball and football fields in the back.

I walked to and from Hinckley Elementary from kindergarten through sixth grade in every kind of weather. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to ask to be driven to school. We lived about a half mile from the school so it wasn’t a great distance, but the thing to bear in mind is that girls wore dresses every day no matter how high the snow was piled up or how hard that Millard County wind blew. Also for the first few years of elementary school, I walked back and forth for lunch each day too. Fourth grade was the first time I remember eating lunch at school. Hinckley’s cafeteria wasn’t in the school; it was a barrack building from Topaz Interment Camp which had been located west of town. The building had been brought from Topaz sometime after 1948 when the Japanese/American citizens who were relocated there for three years during World War II had finally been allowed to disperse.

A photo of Topaz camp circa 1944. One of these buildings served as my lunchroom at Hinckley Elementary School.

The Hinckley students would have to walk from the school along a sidewalk to the north of the school and wait in line outside for our turn to get a tray and collect our lunch from the counter before sliding into a long table and eating a hurried meal so there would be enough time to have fun on the playground. Some of my favorite memories of recess activities were playing Go-To-The-Bars on the swings. It was a tag-type of game where the one who is ‘it’ tries to catch someone who isn’t clinging to one of the metal bars between swinging. We had elaborate rules including having to swing at least once between the time ‘it’ ran from the end poles. The other favorite recess activity was spinning on the monkey bars. We used our coats to limit the friction and would use one knee up on the bar and then spin around and around. I would do it until I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up, it was so much fun! It did cause a problem when we moved to Pleasant Grove in third grade because I tried to show someone the trick and realized the bars were closer together at that school when my nose impacted on the lower bar. I had never before or since seen so much blood as the day I broke my nose.

I loved all of my Hinckley Elementary teachers, but the two who stand out most in my mind was Mrs. Hardy, my fourth and fifth grade teacher and Mr. Farnsworth, my sixth grade teacher. They were both instrumental in helping me discover who I was and finding worth in myself. Mrs. Hardy died of cancer a few months into my fifth grade year and that was a monumental occurrence in my life. I still think about her often and miss her.

In addition to teaching sixth grade, Mr. Farnsworth was also the school principal. He was an amazing man. I understand he is still alive and about four years ago I wrote him a letter to tell him how much I appreciated his efforts on behalf of his students. Until Mr. Farnsworth started teaching me, I was convinced I was stupid. He made me realize that I had strengths and abilities and always praised me in a way that made me want to do even better. While in sixth grade, we had a school paper, we put on several plays, we learned and performed different dances and we decorated the bulletin boards in the halls of the school. The sixth graders also were in charge of keeping the school grounds looking nice. We had a day in the fall and a day in the spring when we brought rakes and shovels to school and worked outside all day cleaning and pruning and burning to keep the grounds looking nice. I have never before or since heard of a school that does that.

I still have dreams which take place inside the walls of Hinckley Elementary. Going to school there was the best thing about living in that tiny town. I am so grateful for the education I received there, for the friends I made there, and for memories which warm my heart all these many years later.


Tina said...

My nose still hurts from reading about your bloody experience on the monkey bars!!

I have memories of the old Millard Academy also . . . (didn't Camilla Kimble attend school there?)

I actually went to elementary school in Hinckley for Preschool and Kindergarten. I believe Mrs. Farnsworth, and Mrs. Zoe Fowles were my teachers. I remember Zoe the most (called her by her first name because she also was a friend of my moms)!! For some reason I attended 1st grade on in Delta.

Also, I remember going to haunted houses that were set up there. Sliced my thumb at one of them!

AND, I worked there when it was a sewing factory, I believe the brand was "Mitzi"??? . . . . BACK BREAKING work I have to say and I would never like to do that kind of work again. I got a job out at IPP as a secretary and left there pronto!

You are jogging my memory also!

Georgia said...

Tina, The summer after I graduated, I worked at the sewing plant, it was horrible. It was actually set up in the old Hinckley High gymnasium which sat next door to the school. That was also where they did the haunted house things too. (I hope you got a tetanus shot for the sliced thumb!)

I agree, those deadend jobs available there motivated me to get out of there, but it was a fun place to go to elementary school.