Shaw diary gives glimpse back in time
Oct 28, 2012 | 1474 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gladys Simmons Shaw’s memories of beginning school were closely associated with the colors of fall. Special to the Eagle
Gladys Simmons Shaw’s memories of beginning school were closely associated with the colors of fall. Special to the Eagle
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Editor’s note: Walking Back in Time is a column from the Walker County Genealogical Society, Inc. It appears each Sunday in the Lifestyle section of the Daily Mountain Eagle.

The Shaw family has graciously loaned the Walker County Genealogical Society, Inc. exerts from the diary of Gladys Simmons Shaw, their mother. Her diary appears to have been written in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s. Gladys’s daughter, Linda Shaw Chavis, painted scenes to accompany the exerts.

Gladys starts to school....

“I started to school while we lived in Sloss Camp in Walker County, Alabama. The school was on a hill side near the spot where the new school was later built. It was probably a church also. It was in the woods and did not have a playground. The building was plain and crude.

Going to school that day was the first time I noticed fall colors.The teacher let us gather the leaves and draw around them.

The youngest children sat on the first row. We used primers, low first primers and high first grade, etc. Most country schools went through the fifth grade.

My research shows that most children went to school for about three months a year. There was one note about a teacher who taught six-week classes. This teacher was at Providence. These classes were for older students.

There would be six weeks of geography. These teachers were paid by the students or parents. Children were taught basics so they could think for themselves. Today it seems as if many students are taught what to believe, not how to think for themselves.

Many fine people came from these one room schools. In Walker County, the last one room school was closed in the 1950s. Mrs. Lola Clemments of Parrish taught in that last one room school.

Children really did have to walk a long way to school. In reality, they probably had to walk a long way to go anywhere. Country living was not easy. During the winter, the ground would freeze and push up. This was called hoar frost. It could also be seen on trees. It would look like snow.

These one room schools were drafty and cold. The heat would be from a pot bellied stove. The blackboard was just regular boards painted black. Just thinking about the awful out house is awful. The children carried their lunch in an old lard pail or just in their hands. Lunch was usually bread and whatever else could be found.”