California Educator

February/March 2020

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Page 49 of 63

E V E R W O N D E R W H A T i t w o u l d b e l i k e t o t e a c h i n t h e olden days? History shows that teachers in the 1800s worked under very challenging conditions. They taught students of all ages and grade levels in a one-room schoolhouse. On cold mornings the teacher had to start a fire in the stove, with wood provided by neighbors. They also filled lamps with oil, cleaned the lamp chimneys, washed the windows, and were responsible for keep- ing the floors clean. Female t each ers were not allowed to marr y, " keep th e company of men," dress in bright colors, "loiter" in ice cream shops, dye their hair, or wear a dress shorter than two inches above the ankle. Some school boards mandated they wear at least two petticoats. Pensions did not exist. Teachers were expected to set aside a "goodly portion" of their earnings, so they would not be a "bur- den on society" in their declining years. Today, a few one-room schoolhouses remain in remote areas, but most have disappeared. However, one in Humboldt County is much the same as it was in the 1800s. It now serves as a museum filled with memories and memorabilia of a bygone era. A step back in time Entering the Centerville School Museum — or as locals call it, e Little Red Schoolhouse — is indeed like stepping back in time. It's easy to imagine a boy dipping a girl's braid in an inkwell, or Tom Sawyer and Becky atcher sharing a double wooden desk and whispering. e historical building once housed the Centerville School located four miles west of Ferndale. It was built in 1880 and operated as a school for seven decades. In 1952, it was moved to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale. During the Humboldt County Fair in August, the schoolhouse is open daily with retired teachers acting as docents. It is also open upon request during the rest of the year. e museum exists thanks to the efforts of C.J. Hindley, former Humboldt County Fair manager, and Alice Lawry Hansen and Dora Damon. Hansen taught at the Centerville school from 1925 to 1939, and Damon was a teacher in the Eel River Valley at one- room schools including Bunker Hill, Cannibal Island, and Coffee Creek schools from 1918 until 1942. At the request of Hindley, the teachers undertook the task of restoring the building as a typical old-time school. Inside are desks from that period, a potbellied stove, oil e Little Red Schoolhouse provides valuable history lessons By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Kim Sanford 48 Teaching & Learning

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