Interview with Mrs. Knapp


 Mrs. Knapp was interviewed because she went to a one room school house in Hilltown. She lived on a farm and walked to school every day.

Mrs. Knapp came to visit the fourth grade class. She informed us about one room schoolhouses in our community. One room schoolhouses were used in our community

until our school was built. One room schoolhouses were not large in size. There were about thirty pupils in the room. There was one teacher for 30-50 students at 8 grade levels. Within the room there were desks and benches for students to sit on. In the front of the room was the slate blackboard and a picture of the president.

There were outside toilets (or out houses) and no electric lights. They had slate blackboards. They had a heater in the classroom that helped to keep the classroom warm in cold months.

Students had to supply themselves with water. They had a bucket which was carried by two people using a stick to hold the handle. They often got their water at a local farm. All students carried their own lunches to school. Lunches might be an egg, jelly, or meat sandwich. Fresh fruit would only be available when there was fruit on the trees or bushes at home (they didn't have access to fruit because of a lack of refrigeration).

Summer vacation started at Memorial Day and ended after Labor Day. The day went from 9:00 until 4:00. At 9:00 they said the Lord's Prayer. Then they sang a couple of songs. During the school day, each grade level had a lesson. While others had lessons, students practiced reading an assignment; then individual students read in front of the class.

Some things that they played at recess were tag, baseball, and hooper, which is tag with a stick. For punishment they got their fingers hit with a ruler. Most students behaved in school because they were taught to do this at home. Students had to listen to what the teachers said.

Students often wore the same clothes more than one day in a row. For example, they would wear the same outfit on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and another outfit on Thursday and Friday.

School was focused on learning. Activities that students do at school today were not part of the daily learning experience. They didn't have plays in school. They didn't really go on field trips. Mrs. Knapp remembers being lucky to go on one field trip to the zoo when she was young - they rode in the back of an open truck to Philadelphia. She said such a trip was rare.

Students often had chores to do when they went home.They might feed the calves or help around the farm in another way. Most students went to high school for one year and it was common to start work at 14. Mrs. Knapp went to work at 14. Some went to work at 13. Mrs. Knapp indicated that the most common job in the area was farming, but some went to work in the pants factory.

Wages were much different for workers 50 years ago. Mrs. Knapp also talked about the depression and how her father earned only $40. a month as a school teacher - they were "glad to get that", she said.