Hoboken School, 1935-1940

"Let us now praise famous men" (as Walker Evens showed us in his famous book of Depression photographs) and let us praise the single women who taught in one-room schools like Hoboken in Rockport.

Hortense Bohndell taught my mothe rin 1913 and me in 1935. She walked down from Beech Hill and back to school for more than 30 years go instill "proper" behavior and reading skills into 5-year-old from Glen Cove and Rockport — on the west side of Goose River. West Rockport and Rockville had their own one-room schools at this time.

In my day, we learned to read in "sub-primary." In my mother's day, you were taught to read at home, and so at 4 years, were ready for more advanced schooling. We had modern-day flash cards and "sounding out" ones, too.

We were overseen by pictures on the back wall of "the famous men" we were to emulate: Jesus in the temple, George Washington, Sir Launcelot and Saint George performing their sacred duties. Our duty was to talk like the Brist, saying "brake-fast," instead of "breck-fast," and to walk like Native Americans: "toe-heel, toe-heel." We were to say the Lord's Prayer eveying morning, our heads on our folded arms atop our desks, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance adn to sing, "America the Beautiful." Sometimes, Miss Bohndell would read a gospel passage to us or a chapter from her favorite book, "Pinnochio," who, of course, grew a longer nose with every lie he told, and eventually changed his ways and become a real boy.

Important newsworthy headline from the Portland Press Herald were tacked to the front blackboard. I well remember the dealth of King George V in 1936. But with the serious coaching of our behavior, we were also blessed to have a sandbox for creating scenes of camels and pyramids in Egypt and frozen landscapes in Iceland. The side blackboards pictured current holidays, which we copied on construction paper to bring home: turkeys, pilgrims and Santa.

Between the blackboards were tall windows lined with red geraniums, which Miss Bohndell tended daily, teaching us how to staunch the bleeding cause by picking off extra leaves with a little potitng soil.

We had a music teacher once a week and Miss Bohndell played the piano daily for our band: a drum, triangles, sticks and cymbals. We even had a rendition of the Sugarplum Fairy from "The Nutcracker Suite" by those of us who took dancing lessons ($1 an hour for a private lesson was a lot to pay during the Depression).

In second grade, I sat in front of Norma Bartlett Philbrook and by shyly half-turning around in my seat, could watch her do long division, and was anxious to be in third grade when I could do the same.

However, my dream of learning more was shattered soon after third grade, when my father, who was on the school board, asked Miss Bohndell if she would teach me for fourth grade, which had been abandoned for Hoboken and transferred to The Diamond Hill School over town. I lived just under a mile from there, so did not qualify to take the bus and would have had to walk back and forth to Diamond Hill four times a day.

As if turned out, I was sick most of that year, according to my diary, but now I believe I was depressed by the isolation involved in being a single student.

According to my diary, again, I was happy in fifth grade at Diamond Hill and wrote "I see Margaret, Patricia, Priscilla, Joyce, Norma and Patty every day now."