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An Apple for the Teacher


Irving School 1886-1931/34

Irving School Remodeled, 1901-1934/1942

Where Irving School, used to be

Swansons Grocery

Willard Street Church

Ottumwa High School

Irving School Elementary, My School Years, Ottumwa, Iowa

Our family moved into the town of Ottumwa, Iowa sometime in 1938, from Soap Creek Township in Davis County, Iowa. We lived in a 2 story Apartment on Church St, that sat near the Des Moines River bank. I believe that is called a "Townhouse" in this 21st century! It was about 3-4 blocks from Irving Elementary school where I attended Kindergarten in the fall of 1938.

I don't recall how long we lived in town, but my parents built a house out at 2015 West Finley Avenue, and we moved there I am told before winter of that same year. Now we were over 3 miles from Irving School, but it was the closest school to us.

I don't remember my Kindergarten teachers name, but I do recall she was a gentle woman. I enjoyed her class. Our Kindergarten room was in the back on the left.

Same with 1st grade. I don't recall her name but remember she had to leave us halfway through the school year as she married and in 1939, women were not to be married and teach. Although I do not remember her name, she is a memory with me for her sweetness and gentleness to each and every one of us. Our 1st grade class was in the back on the right.

The teacher that took over was also my 1st grade teacher for the following year, because I had missed 3 months of school due to Mumps, Measles, Chicken Pox and Scarlet fever. Back in those days, whole families were quarinteened for the duration, being until all members of the family showed no signs of being contagious. I did not mind being kept back another year as it really helped me excell and whip into 2nd grade.

I am not positive at this time exactly where my 2nd grade class was, perhaps some one that reads this can tell me. I don't remember my 2nd grade teachers name either. Perhaps it was an uneventful year, is my excuse.

My 3rd grade class was in the front on the left and my teachers name was Mrs. Reardon. She lived next door to my sister and brother in law, the Wrights. I loved that teacher. She opened up a whole new world to me of History and science. Not that Science was all that easy for me, but when it involved the world of Astronomy it was very exciting. It really saddened me when many years ago, I learned of her passing. What a waste of love for children and teaching. Too bad she could not have been cloned!

4th, 5th and 6th grades were upstairs. I loved school, participated, etc, but I cannot recall those 3 years of schooling, nor any of my teachers. I regret this and call upon my memory to bring something forth all the time. I can remember that I participated in music, chorus's etc.

7th grade!! 7th grade class was on the right front. I remember that whole school year! Mrs Droz was my teacher and she had taught my older brothers and sisters at the little one room schoolhouse called Hickory Flats, at Soap creek many years before, where she had many grades. She had gone back to school after that and been requalified to teach. She was into reading, such as todays students are being taught again, and read we did!!! I had always been an avid reader and kept the librarian at our tiny public library busy checking out and returning books. She introduced me to many childrens authors as well as more intense readings as I grew.

I made many friends during this year, as we also had to go to Stuart Jr High (Now an Apartment Complex) for Home Ec. This way we were introduced to another whole school. It also helped us break the ice for being included into the 8th grade the following year. Mrs Droz is another teacher that will stay in my memory forever, because of her caring dicipline

I got my first kiss in 7th grade much to my dismay! I DID have a puppy-love-crush on a boy in the class but did not know he knew it. Well, after that crushing day, I no longer had anything for him but intense hatred for many years!!! So, Casey, if you ever get the opportunity to read this, I did forgive you, but it took about 10 years to do so. LOL !!!

In the old schools, we had what was called, "Cloak Rooms", a small room to hang our coats, set our boots, lunches etc. There were no lunch rooms in our schools then. Also, in the rainy weather, we wore raincoats and rain boots. In the winter weather, we wore our heavy coats, scarves, hoods, mittens and heavy over shoes to trod through the snow to school. There were no cars and school buses to take us from our home to school, and from school to our homes. We ALL walked to school!! Therefore, the "CLOAK ROOM"!!

One day after coming in from lunch, I was hanging up my coat in the cloak room when Casey appeared in the cloak room also. Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed me and kissed me right on the mouth, and much to my dismay, a cheering crowd applauded, and roared! My classmates, mostly boys, were there watching the whole scene. I had been set-up!!! I was angry, ashamed, and shocked at his actions. I started to leave school, but Mrs Droz had come into the action and made everyone go to his or her desk and sit down and took me aside and talked to me for a long time and convinced me to stay. After giving the class a good talking too, and Casey getting sent to the Principals office, things settled down. From that day forward, Mrs Droz took me under her wing and she was my protector for the rest of that school year.

Irving school had a big playground. We had swings, slides and bars to play on. We were given basketballs, kickballs, and huge jump ropes to play with at recess, and lunchtime. and sometimes we were allowed to have them before school. We had a net set up on one side of the school to play volley ball. We were kept busy with what we had and enjoyed it. The boys jumped rope just as the girls did. The girls played on the bars, just as the boys did. We girls brought "Jacks" from home to play on the school sidewalk. I can never remember any fights breaking out at school. If they did, then they were taken care of quietly, because they are NOT in my memory.

We had 2- 15 minute recess periods. The morning recess was a milk break and then we went outside for however long we had left. We were NOT kept in from the rain nor the snow unless we had been sick and had notes from home. We had "NO SNOW DAYS" either. Lunch was from 12noon-1PM. We had no "Lunch Room". We could either sit at our desk and eat our lunch, or choose to sit outside for that time. I remember sitting with friends on the green lush lawn and we all shared Bolonga, Peanut Butter, Jelly sandwiches, with apples, oranges, and bananas. No Potato Chips nor Coca Colas for that era!!! We laughed, giggled, told silly things, thought up silly things, shared party memories etc.

I want to impress upon you what our school was like on the inside. The outside was made of Brick and Mortar, but inside, was wood! I want to say Mahogony, but that may not be right, but it had the look of Mahogony. The deep rich color stays in my memory to this day. The stairways were sanded, polished and laquered to a high sheen. One could almost use the high sheen as a mirror. The maintenance man worked extremely hard to keep our school in its beauty.

Our desks were made of iron and bolted together in a row, (how many now, I forget), but they were also bolted to the floor, unmovable and not like todays desks. There was no rust on that iron as it was painted black, but our desks, made of wood, were also sanded, laquered and polished to a great sheen! Our teachers desks faced us, not behind us as many are today. We had to sit up straight, feet flat on the floor. No slouching, hunching of shoulders was allowed. While we were at school, out teacher was our mother, father, diciplinarian. She had full control over us, and if not?, a trip to the principals office re-inforced that. He paddled with confidence that he would not end up in court, nor lose his job. Same with the teacher, unlike the dicipline of today.

I am guessing the basement of the school was strictly for the maintenance, because I have no memory what so ever of ever being in the basement. We had huge radiators in our rooms, so am suspecting that a large part of the basement held a coal bin. The furnace would have been huge too, to reach all the rooms in that school. In the winter time, the maintenance man would have had to get up very early to get that boiler going to take care of us by 8 AM. and the teachers and Principal before then.

I remember there was a great, tall American Flag that flew high above the school and during WW2, as Soldiers, Sailors, Marines walked by the school, they ALWAYS stopped for just a second to raise their hand and salute that great flying flag. They helped me keep a great amount of faith in our country and pride in Old Glory, way back then as I had 3 brothers in that war, whom I wrote to daily, and came home safely to us in the end. Yes, The Pledge of Allegience was a daily routine first thing every morning before classes began! We had no fear of saying " nation under God...". I still don't!!

Mr Rubel, the Superintendent of the Ottumwa Schools (Board of Education) found these pictures for me and sent them to me to complete my genealogy. I do so appreciate the time that was taken to locate and send these pictures to me. He relates that the school was torn down in 1975 which I regret immensely, but in my heart it will live on, and stands still!

If you can or wish to comment on this school, especially if you ever attended Irving Elementary School at the 5 corners in Southside Ottumwa, Iowa, I gladly welcome your comments, but most of all I would love to hear from you and hope you would have more memories to share. I give you my guestbook to contact me. I will be checking it every day.

Fairview School, Ottumwa, Iowa


The Following Pictures were taken from Wapello County Genweb Page

Lunch in Central Park, Ottumwa, Iowa

Cornfield near OHS

Streetscape in Ottumwa, Iowa