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Harmony Grade School

Clarke County, Mississippi
Sam F. Kennedy Jr.

 

 March 28, 2009

 

   Information based on my memories of the school and operation during the late 1930s and early 1940s

 

Location:

 Harmony Grade school was located in the community of Harmony at coordinates. 31 59 10 N/ 88 49 07 W.

Time Span:

            Start date (unknown)

            End date  (unknown)

Schedule:

The school was eight months per year, which was typical of agricultural areas at that time. All the children were needed to play whatever part they could in the planting operation during the spring and harvest in the fall. The daily schedule included a 15 minute recess in the mornings and another in the afternoon.  A lunch period of  ? minutes was allowed for lunch.

The Grades:

 
Grades 1 through 8. (kindergarten and preschool were not even a concept at that time)

 

The Building and Facilities:

The school was a two room building with the 1st through 4th in east room (little room) and grades 5th through 8th (big room) in the west room. Each room had both a front door and a rear door. There was no closet or storage space and the toilet facilities were two out-houses located about 200 ft. behind the schoolhouse. The boy�s out-house on the east and the girls on the west. On Fridays of each week, students had to clean up the out-houses and then the principle inspected.

A wood heater was installed in each room. A pan of water was always place on the heater to provide humidity. Firewood was purchased from the lowest bidder and larger students brought the wood from the woodpile into the wood box in the classroom. If student yawned or otherwise were showing signs sleepiness, the teacher had them do laps around the building. This was a very effective way to deal with this problem.

The school was located on an estimated five-acre plot of land, which was originally part of the old Clarke County Agricultural High School farm (the south east corner). The back acre was a garden plot for the lunchroom. The garden concept was established in the 1930s as part of the Federal Government job creation program. The gardener for several years was a truly master gardener whose last name was Gullette.

After the school was closed, the land and buildings were sold to a private individual. I think the owners in succession were  Francis Stevens, John Boney and then Bud Hunter. I don�t know who now owns it.

A lunch room building referred to as the �Soup Kitchen� was built about 75 ft to the west of the schoolhouse during the 1930s and a cook-manager and part time assistants were hired� as part of a government job creation program. Miss Bertha Detwiler was the manager and Miss Mattie? McCarty was one of the employees. Government surplus commodities including apples, cheese, potatoes and similar products were provided to the lunchroom. This was part of a nation wide school lunch program. Families could provide items such as milk, butter, corn meal, potatoes and other farm products on a pre-approved basis, in exchange for meal tickets for the students. The lunchroom workers were employed during the summer months to can and preserve the garden produce. Some students brought their own lunches from home and milk was furnished free from the lunchroom for beverage. I lived very close to school and could go home for lunch or eat in the lunchroom.

A deep drilled water well and hand pump were located next to the schoolhouse for drinking water and for lunchroom use. A 50-foot flagpole was located in front of the schoolhouse and the American flag with the state flag were flown each day (weather permitting) when school was in session.

A dirt surface two-hoop basketball court was located in back of the schoolhouse and the school owned one leather basketball and a football. A hand operated air pump for inflating the balls was also available. Homemade seesaws were available for the small kids. This was the total recreational sports equipment and programs.  Marbles, top spinning, keep-away, red rover, dodge ball, jump rope and tag type softball were all games that were popular.  Students improvised and brought in homemade equipment such as ball bats, balls, tops, marbles and such.

The equipment in the classroom was simple but effective. The school budget was very limited and very few new items were added each year. The equipment included the following:

  • Two chalk boards with erasers and a supply of chalk that came in a wooden box with a slide top.

  • A pencil sharpener in each room.

  • A pull-down window shade type world map

  • A pull-down window shade type U.S. map

  • A pull-down window shade type Human Anatomy chart

  • A window shade type diagramming teeth and gums.

  • A Hex Graph duplicator. Made purple copies from gelatin master.

  • A picture of George Washington on the wall in each room

  • A one volume encyclopedia (well outdated)

  • A world globe in each room.

  • A small wall shelf library of suitable books were in each room.

  • A supply of report cards and a few other forms used for reports.
     

Transportation:

The school was within walking distance of several students and the remaining students were bussed in. The bus served both the grade school students for the Harmony School and the Pachuta High School students. After dropping off the Harmony School students, the bus continued on to pick up both grade school and high school students for the Pachuta schools. The bus service was provided on a contract basis to private individuals.  The driver was by the contractor or a senior high school student with proven driving experience and record. Before a certain date, buses were long bed trucks with cabs removed and wooden bus bodies built on. These buses had padded benches running lengthwise of the bus. Fuel for the buses was provided by the school system. Some of the bus route was on dirt roads and after rains, were not accessible and the students had to walk to the gravel roads to meet the bus or stay at home. Flooding occasionally made it impractical for the bus to make the trip to Pachuta. Pachuta creek would flood and the approach and bridge would become impassible. Sometimes we would have to get off the bus and walk across the bridge, then the bus with only the driver on board would pass over. One alternate route,Old Stage Coach Road was usually not passable after heavy rain. Since we had no telephones in Harmony, we could not coordinate to have another bus to meet us on the other side of the creek. 

Teachers:

Two teachers staffed the school, one for the �little room� and the other for the �big room�. Substitute teachers were available as needed from retired teachers. During my stay (8 years) Mrs. Roy Mosley was the �big room� teacher and principle and most of the time, Miss Izzie Riley was the �little room� teacher. The teachers were hired on a year-to-year basis. I believe Mrs. Mosley spent her entire teaching career at this school. She was a tough but fair teacher and many students were given a great start in their careers and probably wrote hundreds of reference letters over the years. Switching and paddling was the accepted method of punishment for serious infractions. Other non-physical methods of discipline were used as well. Well as I remember all discipline was applied on a fair and uniform basis. A note to the parents on infractions of course caused a secondary round of discipline.  Needless to say, there were no serious discipline problems or disruption in classes.

After Eighth Grade:

Students attended Pachuta High School. 

 

Harmony MS

 



 

� COPYRIGHT 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BILL EDDINS & APPROPRIATE AUTHORS