Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two of My Early School Experiences

Just a tidbit of my early school experiences.
Number One: LANGUAGE was a problem since we were raised in a Volga German Russian environment. We had no idea school would confront us with speaking ENGLISH. My brother Alfred, who was born in 1923 and I (born in 1921) were dropped off at Old Bosna one room country school in the southwest part of Trego County, Kansas one fall morning probably 1929 or 1930. Our school was in an area where many of local families also were of Volga German heritage. The German language was forbidden on the school ground.

As the school bell rang, We remained outside, sitting by the corner of the school building, both of us crying . We could not understand any English speaking, etc. We did however learn to assimilate. It was a hurdle. Our school day began with Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, a short Bible reading by the teacher and the Lord's Prayer said in unison.

Encounter #2: Hygiene: Farm boys were not necessarily the most concerned with personal hygiene. Yes we took a wash tub bath once a week and we got dressed up on Sundays for church. However public school introduced us to some UPDATED HYGIENIC PRACTICES: washing your hands and brushing your teeth.

Gold stars were very impressive to us kids at school for a job well done. At that time Lifebuoy Soap had a public relations program where they gave our school small bars of Lifebuoy Soap and tooth brushes and tooth paste along with score charts for each student. Each pupil had a chart posted at the side of his desk, and each morning we were polled by the teacher if we 'Washed our Hands and Brushed our Teeth'. The chart would be marked. At the end of the week, a perfect score was awarded a Gold Star on our chart. This was a wonderful practice that instilled pride in us students. We looked forward to roll call!


Terri said...

Ernie - You sound just like my Dad. He also grew up in a German speaking community. His first day of school he could not understand anything the teacher was saying either. He was allowed to stay in school though, but his first year was spent trying to learn English. The only sad part is that once he learned English his German language was gone and today he understands very little of it.
Enjoyed you story very much!

Andrea Christman said...

Ernie, thanks for sharing your story! It reminds me of my own grandfather because he too only spoke German when he went to school. He was born in 1913 in a litte Alsatian community near San Antonio, Texas. The people spoke either German or the Alsatian dialect which is very Germanic in nature. The language was not passed down to the younger generations. In fact, when my grandparents wanted to talk in front of us grandkids, they spoke in Alsatian or German so that we would not be able to know what they were saying!!!