John and I were excited about starting back to school. The summer had been both busy and fun. We had spent a lot of time in pinching off all the blossoms from the strawberry plants. That took a long time since we had an acre to cover and they bloomed profusely. The new garden had a lot of stones that we had to pick up and pile on the wheelbarrow for Daddy to dump once he got home from work.
Daddy piled all the stones beside the barn for future use. Once he had more time he would take one by one and smash them with his sledge hammer to make gravel for the driveway in the barnyard.
But today we didn't have to worry about picking rocks, pulling weeds, or any of the other things we were used to doing. It was time to go to school. Mom had sewed new clothes for us and we each had a brand new lunch box. Mine was yellow with flowers around the edges and a little elf girl sitting on a lily pad with the words "Herself the Elf" Elf fun is for everyone.
We each had a pack of new crayons and a ruler. The school would supply anything else we needed.
We started off early. We no longer needed anyone to walk with us. The morning was beautiful as we said good-bye to Mom and David on the front porch and started up the road. We turned into the small dirt road and turned to wave one last time before we rounded the bend. Black Eyed Susan's were growing in the ditch and we gathered a handful to give to the teacher. We were talking and thoroughly enjoying ourselves when our peaceful morning got disrupted by the barking of three huge dogs as they came flying out a neighbors driveway. We dropped the flowers we had picked and ran as fast as we could go. The dogs followed us for a short distance and then turned around and loped back.
We managed to catch our breath and hurried on to school. We arrived in plenty of time and we got to explore the new schoolhouse before the bell rang. It was situated on top of a steep hill. The front door was a nice walk in without any steps. At the back of the schoolhouse there was a fire escape with ten steps and a basement door. There was a big sandbox in the basement for rainy days and a furnace. In a little side room there was a big pile of coal and an area to stack firewood.
School started with everyone saying the Lord's Prayer and singing three songs. As soon as that was done we got our arithmetic assignments. The forenoon passed quickly and it was time for lunch. Mom had fixed an egg sandwich and a small bowl of peaches for our lunch. I closed my lunch box as I was eating my sandwich so I could admire the picture on the front. LV was sitting across the aisle and happened to see what it said and called out to one of his friends "Hey Norman, MaryAnn's lunch box says Herself the Elf Elf fun is for everyone." Everyone laughed as I cringed in my seat and wished I could disappear.
I hurriedly finished my lunch and ran outside. I was still in the entrance when LV and some of the other boys came out and gathered around me chanting elf elf elf Herself the elf. I felt like crying and managed to get away and run to the girls outhouse where I vowed to stay inside until recess was over.
20+ years later the schoolhouse no longer looks new and exciting. But it is holding lots of memories!