Telling Stories: Winter’s Bite

A few weeks ago the weather here got cold enough that it felt crisp and I was struck by something that I hadn’t thought about for a long time.

I was taken back to grade school where I attended a one room school house with 5 other children. 2 of my siblings and the 3 neighbor girls who lived about 30 minutes away from my house.

At the one room school house that I attended there was 1 teacher for all the students/grades. She would teach us from K-8th grades everything that we needed to know before being allowed to drive ourselves the additional 30 minutes to the nearest high school. This is all important because it lets you know how isolated we, the students, were from any one else besides this teacher.

Side note my grandfather from previous stories called this teacher “Miss Honey” from Matilda because he felt she was too nice to us students.

Alright time for the actual story.

Everyday at school all of us kids would be sent outside twice a day for recess as this would also give our teacher a mental break from us. This would later be mandated time away from us everyday because she was so abusive the school board ended up installing video surveillance in the school.

We would all be sent outside in the sun, rain, or snow. It didn’t matter what the weather was like we were all pushed out the door and outside we would all have to stay for the 30 minute recess twice a day.

I remember one winter that was horribly cold when I was in 5th grade when we were shoved out the door into the falling snow. It was cold enough that any exposed skin just hurt and the wind was whipping around us. Us all being ranch kids we saw a few things around the school grounds that we could use and we built a shelter. Samantha and I as the 2 oldest kids built the walls while the younger kids huddled within the structure.

Using concrete bricks that were too busted up for actual construction we made ourselves a little hut and with a torn up tarp for a roof we would all huddle inside. It was enough to keep us out of the wind and tight enough that our body heat could warm up the inside enough for us to be comfortable. I remember my father telling me a story about how ice is a great insulator so we packed snow tight against the outside walls. Not sure if that actually helped much but we did it.

I know that all of us kids every year from then on would bring blankets when the weather started to get bad and would preemptively build the hut because we all knew that it didn’t matter how cold it got we would not be allowed to stay indoors.

I can’t imagine how unsafe that hut must have been or how cramped it actually was. I know that all six of us could fit inside in a pile and could keep warm until we were called back inside to continue our lessons for the day.

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