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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bona School, part I

Chapter 6

Bona School

Con Frieze's drawing of Bona School as it appeared in 1936

By the time we moved to that little farm south of Bona, Richard and I had attended four or five different schools ranging from the large Faxon Elementary in Kansas City to the little grey-weathered one room school, Shady Grove, where we went from Doc Hunt’s place and where Rex started in the first grade.  We attended Bona School from the time we moved to the big yellow house, then the white house and, finally, the little three-room house all just south of Bona.

Bona School (also known as the Lindley School, I guess because the Lindley family had founded it) was one step beyond the common one-room country school room.  Bona School sat on top of a low hill one-mile north of Bona itself.  It was a three-room “Jobe School” (I do not know why), having grades one through ten so it was sort of a combination of elementary and junior high school.  I would reckon that in “olden days” most farm kids did not go to school beyond tenth grade.

Bona School was a white clapboard building built in the shape of a “T.”  Across the ront there were two rooms and added onto the back was a third smaller room.  We referred to the back room as the “Little Room” because that was where they had grades on through four.  The larger room on the north side of the front was the “Middle Room” with grades five through eight.  The other was the “Big Room” where there were the older children in grades nine and ten.

To me there was definite advantage in those country schools with several classes in one room and where each class went in turn to the front row of seats to recite.  Since I usually found the work in my own grade quite easy, I would often listen in on the lectures of the teacher to the more advanced classes and then the following year I was familiar with much of the work.  I would often take home school books to read and study on my own over a weekend just to find out things I wanted to know—science books and geography in particular because I wanted to know about the world and everything in it.  I did not care much for history and both mathematics and grammar seemed to come easy for me.

To get back to Bona School, each of the rooms had its own coal stove for heat in the winter.  All were connected to a central brick chimney.  The rooms had moveable wall dividers between them that could be removed for social events, school plays, and the like. [It seems to me that schools thought moveable walls were an innovation in the 1970s and ‘80s] The desks were mounted on boards instead of the floor so that they could all be rotated to face the little stage that was located at one side of the Middle Room.

The school did not have a carbide lighting system like the Bona Church.  When we first started there, evening events were still lighted by coal oil lamps and lanterns; however, about that time the principal, Mr. Hardesty, raised enough money through pie suppers, etc., that they could buy six Coleman gasoline lanterns which gave considerably better light. 
Wikipedia describes pie suppers as being an Ozark phenomenon to raise money for schools, but I know for sure that they happened in Oklahoma as well.  Young ladies made pies and fixed picnic baskets which were auctioned off to the highest bidder (usually a man) and they ate with them.  The money went to the school.  I remember my grandmother telling about them being common in her day.