I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
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Showing off the old school
By Barry Schrader.................................June
Tom Schlieben didnt get a chance to dip Alice (now
Whitney) Strobergs pigtails in the ink wells at North Grove
School in first grade because the ink wells had been removed
from the desks by then.
That is something I learned
from talking with those two schoolmates recently who went all
through grade school in the tiny one-room school on Brickville
Road north of Sycamore. Tom remembers that once on a dare he
climbed the flagpole out front and touched the big ball at the
top. Of course he was many pounds lighter in those days, so he
admitted he wouldnt try that again. They both recalled
the big pump out front, which still stands today and still provides
potable drinking water to anyone who knows how to use it. In
their school days, which went from first grade in 1946 through
sixth or seventh grade, they used a bucket and dipper to quench
their thirst, then later a ceramic crock was added inside the
school with a spigot for getting a drink.
Tom Schlieben and Alice Stroberg.
Tom said they all brought their lunches and left them in the
front cloak room. For a special treat, sometimes a mother would
bring in a tureen of soup or chili for the students. A typical
school day consisted of classes in arithmetic, English, history,
geography and penmanship. There were typically 15 or 20 students
in all eight grades in any one year. Their teacher all through
grade school, Mrs. Hilda Clark, had a policy of letting them
eat lunch outside only if it was 72 degrees or hotter. But they
got plenty of exposure to the outdoors during recess and after
eating lunch. The play equipment consisted of a large slide,
rings to swing on, and two swings. No computer games or iPods?
There was an old upright piano that the teacher used
for music making, and they both remember reciting the Pledge
of Allegiance at the start of the school day. Tom claims he never
took any schoolwork home at night, but Alice says she did.
Both transferred to Sycamore schools, Alice when
going into sixth grade and Tom a year later in 1952, when the
country schools were mostly closed in the county. He felt they
were behind the town kids who had more special resource teachers
and additional learning materials. Alice said the biggest difference
she remembers was not being able to wear jeans but instead skirts
or dresses in town.
Rural families loved their
neighborhood schools, and the North Grove Community Club kept
the building well maintained for social occasions even after
it was no longer used as a school. As a result this is the only
one-room school in the county on its original site that is used
for educational purposes today. Sycamore teachers bring classes
there for learning about rural school life 100 years ago.
And this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Alice and
Tom and several other alums will gather to show off the school
to the public. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Heres a trivia question to ask
them: Did the girls or boys outhouse have more holes?
The columnist can be reached via email at :
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PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115