York County’s one-room schools evoke multiple memories
Curt Goodling of Dover provided this photo, taken March 10, 1952, of Hoover School in Dover Township, under direction of Harvey Linebaugh. One-room schools closed during the 1950s as consolidation created new multi-room buildings.
It’s a sure bet that if we ask for memories of one-room schools, York Daily Record/Sunday News readers deliver.
We did so again recently for the article Memories of one-room schools and received way more than we could run in the newspaper. We’ll post them on our one-room school section of our history site, www.ydr.com/history.
The fact is that one-room schools touched scores of York countians living today. The county led the state in one-room schools before World War II with 285. A large population — and a large but scattered rural population away — contributed to this. So did the enticement of plentiful farm and factory jobs, which did not demand high school education. (For additional discussion, see way of life.)
To give a sample of a yet unpublished letter, here are Richard Snyder’s memories of the still-standing Raab’s School in York Township (His last sentence refers to corncob college. Somehow one-room schools, privies and the lack of toilet paper in those days always emerge from memories):
Snyder figured out about halfway through second grade that if he was planning on a singing career, he would be wise to find a day job, as the saying goes.
“When the Christmas season came around that year, we had a Christmas program to which our parents were invited. I believe she wanted everyone to participate,” he said of the teacher, Mrs. Jameson. “She assigned Lois Wambaugh and I to sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ After she heard me sing, she said, ‘Richard, suppose we let Lois sing and you just mouth the words.’ From that day forward, I was convinced that I could not sing. This is, of course, a fact,” Snyder said.
Snyder was the only student in third grade and since, like so many students in a one-room school, he spent his spare time listening to what the other classes were doing, Snyder was familiar with the fourth-grade lessons and was allowed to move up to fourth grade.
“We had enough time at lunchtime to go over to the woods above where the Susquehanna Memorial Gardens is now located. It, of course, was not there then. We played foxes and hounds. We called it a fox hunt. One of us was selected to be the fox. The fox got a head start, and the rest of us chased him. We had to find him and catch him. The teacher was OK with this until the one guy got lost one day and was late returning. His late return, of course, ended the fox hunts,” Snyder said.
Snyder said, no doubt about it, the winters were colder in those days, and there was a lot more snow. In fact some days were simply too cold to go to school.
“Some very cold, windy days we would start out to walk to school but when we got up on top of the hill where the wind could really hit us hard, we decided it was too cold to go to school. We, meaning the neighborhood kids and I, would return to our homes. In a short while, miraculously, it got warmer and we would go outside and sled,” he said.
Many of the roads were dirt and there was little traffic, especially when the roads were snow-covered. The township did plow and cinder the roads as it does today. “As a result, we had very good sledding for many days,” he said.
While a seventh-grader, Snyder was allowed to take the eighth-grade examination for high school. He and another seventh grader, Dick Ludwig, made the highest scores in the school, and Snyder entered what was then Red Lion High School at the age of 12.
“I really appreciate the fact that I could attend my one-room school. I feel that we got a very good basic elementary education at Raab’s. We fondly called our school a corncob college,” Snyder said