Bona School had a staff of three teachers—a principal who also taught the Big Room, a Middle Room teacher, and a woman teacher for the little kids in the Little Room. In 1933 the principal was Mr. Hardesty, the Middle Room was taught by his wife, and a Miss Fern had the Little Room. In 1934 they were replaced by Mr. J. B. Mitchell as principal, George Richey (one of our distant cousins who had taught us at Shady Grove) in the Middle Room, and George’s wife Evelyn in the Little Room.
The school yard was quite large, probably an acre, so the school building sat well back from the dirt and gravel road. There was a coal shed behind the schoolhouse and a well with a big cast-iron pump. On each side of the schoolhouse, and just a bit down the hill, there were four-holer outhouses, one for boys and one for girls. South of the building there were teeter-totters and swings. In the far corner of the schoolyear, down beyond where we played our brand of football, shinny, or rounders baseball, there was a small stable for three or four horses or ponies for those who rode to school. Not many rode in my time. We all walked anywhere from a mile to two and a half miles.
The old stable was used mostly at recess by the older boys who would sneak down there to smoke a Bull Durham roll-your-own cigarette or maybe a tailor-made if anyone had one.
Smoking, of course, was strictly forbidden. One time during noon hour, I saw Mr. Hardesty slip down there quietly. Sure enough, three or four boys had a smoke going. The one who had it in his mouth (I think it was Keith Carnes) tried to flip the butt back into his mouth to put it out right quick but he gagged on it and coughed a gob of smoke right into Mr. Hardesty’s face. The principal did not say anything at first. He simply slipped off his belt and proceeded to give Keith a good licking right there, then he gave the others some very choice stern words.
Corporal punishment was common in the schools then and was expected. Not only did the parents not object, evey kid knew that if he got a whipping at school, he would get another one when he got home. Some of the fathers did that on general principles and other, I understand, would lay into the errant boy and grow, “There, that is fer gettin’ caught!”