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Remembrances of a White School Graduate

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts
by Dorothy Andrews (Ostheller)

These are the years from 1930 on. I remember the bad winter storms when we young people could not make our horses go against the west wind towards home. Many a time the fathers would take turns walking or riding to school and then string our horses out behind and head into the storm.

We rode our horses with felt blankets and often no saddles due to parents' fears of a child being dragged as their foot might get caught in a stirrup.

One winter's day when I was late for school, I was galloping my horse too fast and took an inside corner and the horse's feet hit a frozen ice spot and fell with me. Neighbors came in a buggy and took me to school. I had a gorgeous black eye when I got home. My folks couldn't understand why I didn't come back home, because I was less than a quarter mile from the house. I had never ridden in a buggy.

At noon on spring days, saw us eating under the carragana trees, often hurrying Evelyn Poole so that she could pitch on our softball team, often playing against Diamond City, Readymade, etc.

Remember the girls trying to beat the boys to the irrigation check to the west of school, so we didn't have to walk to the next one for swimming at noon? Many of us learned to to swim in the irrigation ditches - some by hanging onto our dog's tails and others behind their horses. Many of us swam during school picnics on the Blood Reserve river and had friends from the Blackfoot and Blood Indian Reserves. In fact, a Blood Indian friend, "Two Guns" is a well known painter.

Halloween nights - riding our horses and singing, "Apples or cake or off comes your gate." Had a lot of fun, but never destroyed or damaged anything - much.

The school fairs with our vegetables and the cooking we did. I recall the fun we had in the Beef Cattle Club, the Dairy calf club, and then there were the lamb and swine clubs. Our days at the rodeos - relay racing, trick-riding and the gymkhana events, watching our friends compete.

In the hot days of spring or summer our teachers would take a class outside to study. I remember one such day being told to lie down on our stomachs and try to discover all the creatures that were crawling or flying between our extended arms. Amazing the world of insects. And oh, the days of just being out on the prairies riding horses or just visiting with schoolmates!

The beauty of combined classes was that, should you have finished your lesson - you always listened and watched the next class up. Thus you were never bored and always were trying to learn the next class's lessons.

Remember when a teacher got a new strap and made you hold out your hand so they could try it out.

Miss Maisie McPheat taught us to sing songs from around the world. Can still remember some. Because I was a monotone, she let me sing in the chorus - at the back and very softly. Have appreciated music all my life thanks to Maisie's thoughtfulness.

As kids we didn't think of the politics of school and the Superintendent's report, but think back. Remember that whenever School Superintendent Owen Williams came into our classroom, no matter what the scheduled class should have been, our next class was always music! Mr. Williams was a Welshman who loved music.

Remember your Christmas Concerts, i.e. stumbling over our feet, costumes not fitting right and slipping down most unexpectedly, but oh, the fun behind the curtains.

The War Years 1939 - 1945. Many of our young women and men fibbed about their age and served with distinction. Many a heart was broken as they shipped out.

Kate Andrews used to come in during the last period of the day on Fridays and read to us for an hour as hats, scarves, helmet liners, sweaters, sox, mitts and gloves, were knit, by boys and girls alike. Some could read a book and turn the heel of a sock while reading and not miss a stitch. I think that's how some of us managed to understand enough of the Tale of Two Cities, etc., to pass our Literature tests.

The wonderful Halloween costumes and the Box socials that were so much fun.

Fond memories of the marvelous dances that were held in the schools, when we were young and the "old folks" danced. Charlie Parry playing the banjo - Kate Andrews on the piano. Then came the younger bands with Ella Bishop, Bert Parry, Herbie and Lewellyn Bishop and Layne Harvey. Doing the Lambeth Walk. quadrilles, square dancing, etc. until 2 a.m., left you too tired to get into much mischief after that. Besides, most had quite a few miles to drive or ride horseback before hitting the hay.

During May, 1942 more than 24,000 Japanese were moved from British Columbia. They started out as our beetworkers and ended up as friends as the time rolled on. As we grew up we learned to schedule our dances and free time around the duties of the many national cultures of our friends. My isn't it nice to see the nations we knew return to the map and hopefully manage peace among themselves.

During the time when the music festivals were held in Lethbridge apparently two young ladies from White School walked to Lethbridge to hear the festival unknown to the teachers or parents. Got back in time to ride home with the rest of the students. Would have gotten away with it - but the Society page Editor wrote about the students walking the five miles and their mud splattered hose. A sharp eyed Grandmother spotted the article. Don't remember getting a spanking.

A recycled school building joined White School in 1941. When it was moved to its site the weather was rainy and muddy. Roads being what they were, when the classroom arrived it was dubbed,"The Mud Hut".

In 1948 Rural Electrification came to the area. The first installed in the Province of Alberta. Now we live in an electronic era. But those were the fun filled days at White. Who remembers the bad days?

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Mary Tollestrup