Memories of the Old Center School (Eel River Township)


In 1921 – ’23 nearly a half century ago

I taught EEL RIVER CENTER SCHOOL out east of Churubusco.

It was a one-room school in a farming community

Where to get an education each child had opportunity.


The children walked to school in all kinds of weather;

There were 48 in all grades when they all got together.

The teacher was in full charge from eight o’clock until four

And was kept very busy with the more than two score. 


The surnames of those pupils that I now can remember

Were McDougall, McCormick, Van Houten and Heffelfinger;

There were Johnsons and Johnston and two families named Green;

The Otts, Sibles and Sages appeared daily on the scene.


There was Lincoln and Decker, Parker and Sutton,

Spitler, Beamer and Miller, Turner and Cotton.

Those named Robert and Ruth, -- of each I had three,

Quite a job to call on the right one, I think you’ll agree. 


I taught Reading and Arithmetic, Spelling and Physiology,

Writing and Language, History and Geography.

Classes were called to the front to recite

Some lessons assigned had to be studied at night.


Older boys were taught Agriculture out of a book,

While the girls learned Sewing in a little rear Nook.

Mrs. Sible taught them skills with needle and thread,

Eight older girls were the pupils this good lady led.


One day at the blackboard I was busy as a bee

When in sneaked the Supt. of Schools and the Township Trustee.

They entered without knocking and took seats at the rear;

That the children were well-behaved was to them very clear. 


Primary children kept busy learning to read and to write

Doing their best to prepare for their turn to recite.

At noon and at recess many games we did play

Such as Baseball, Fox and Goose, and Pom-Pom- Pull-Away. 


The term of seven months slipped by very quick;

We had a two-weeks vacation when time for St. Nick.

Then on the 28th of April the term came to an end,

All the children got “promoted” so I was their good friend.


On the last day of the term we had a special program –

Parents brought in a BIG DINNER with lots of chicken and ham.

We had contests in games, also songs sung by all,

Then the school doors were closed until reopening in the fall.


With reminiscing about CENTER I could go on and on

Telling about those Happy Days that were long past and gone.

A few years later old CENTER SCHOOL was closed down

For the schools were “consolidated” in near-by Huntertown.


Most school buildings are “razed” when they have served out their time;

That’s not true of old CENTER the subject of this rhyme.

It still stands at the corner, a “memento” of the past;

As a COMMUNITY CENTER for many years, we hope the old school will last.


Teachers, too, are forgotten when old FOGIES they become

But THANKS to my good friends that’s not the LOT of this one. –

My students of 1921 got their “heads together” and made a good plan

To spring a BIG SURPRISE on this 76 year old man. –


All former schoolmates were invited by letter or ‘phone

And with shrewd “conniving” they got me out from my home.

We were taken to old CENTER by our son and his wife

And the BIG SURPRISE of October 5th I’ll remember for life.


I was ushered in ahead and as I opened the door

I was greeted with “HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ by more than a score.

What a THRILL to see my students that I hadn’t seen for years!!!

It took quite an effort for me to hold back the tears. 


The tables were well loaded with many kinds of good food,

It would be difficult to describe them, they all were so good.

A vase of pretty ROSEBUDS and a big BIRTHDAY CAKE

Were on the Head Table and pretty decorations they did make.


Each Rosebud for a pennant with a student’s name typed thereon

41 red buds for those living and 7 white buds for those gone.

The Cake was a beauty topped with a little Red School House;

I was told that it was prepared by Harry Blessing’s good Spouse.


After dinner was finished the ROLL of students was read,

Each one present responded with some school-memory he had.

Those stories were amusing of forty-eight years ago, --

One gal refused to tell hers, -- I’m sure we’d all like to know!!  ??


What a TRIBUTE to a teacher after forty-eight years have passed!!

We are all awed with wonder that such friendships could last.

Your Teacher is so THRILLED with what you have done!

He prays God’s richest blessings be upon you, each and every one.


                        Also, A GREAT BIG THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!


                                    Most sincerely, Elmer S. Goheen                      


October 1969