Schools Days In Mendon —
My first experience at the Mendon district school was in 1920 when I entered as a first grade student. Ada Plowman (Walker) was the first grade teacher succeeded the next year by Olive Sorensen (Hughes). We remember the old brick structure with the belfry, complete with bats and tree bugs. We can still see the carved initials in the red bricks, the old grate where we scraped our laced shoes, and pounded the dust off the erasers. The back part of the building where the third, fourth, and fifth, grades held forth was constructed of rocks.
The bathroom fixtures were outside about one-half block west of the schoolhouse. One labeled “boys” and the other “girls.” The other teachers during the period from 1920 to 1928, as I remember were Gladys Hughes (Nelson) third, fourth and fifth. Her brother Henry G. Hughes, principal and teacher of the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
I can still remember the ”Good morning to you, good morning to you, we’re all in our places with sun shining faces.” Oh, this is the way to start a new day. We sang it every morning. The big stoves that were in the corner of each room, either kept us too warm or too cold. Each stove was surrounded by a metal guard. I can still see the design on the shield. The rooms were circled on all available sides by blackboards; we were allowed to stencil designs in borders on these blackboards, always appropriate to the season.
Then the time came when new lavatories were built inside the building. Modern pluming and all. That was a great convenience. How well we remember our beloved teacher and principal Henry G. Hughes. He was a specialist on discipline. We all respected him and his ruler. Each year the school would put on a play. We went to the old rock show house to rehearse. Some of my fondest memories are around these productions, April Fools’ Day was always a day to sluff school and go to the hills. The teachers expected it and were never disappointed. The day came when we won a Victorola by having the most OK teeth and Health Contest in Cache County. One with a big wooden horn. At recess we would clear the aisles and dance, dance, dance to, “She Was Just A Sailor’s Sweet Heart,” “Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue,” and etc. Other favorite recess recreations were games, marbles, skip the rope, pomp pomp pull away, poison rag, etc. We had good teachers. I remember the long multiplication problems, which Mr. Hughes gave us. He also introduced the speed and comprehension tests in reading, spelling and arithmetic. These tests were not used by the school system for some years after. We didn’t appreciate it at the time, but it was good practice in preparing us for high school. We had spelling bees, or matches, which were fun as well as a good way to learn.
The janitors were Brother John Ladle and his wife (Susanna) and daughters, Mabel and Clella. They always kept the place spotless. Perhaps we didn’t learn as much or as rapidly as do the students today, but what we learned stayed with us in our fond memories, these were happy days. Graduation from the eighth grade was the greatest event. It was held at night in the church house. Valedictories, program, flowers, new clothes and all, no other could equal it!
— Maxine Stauffer Sorensen