Friday, August 25, 2017

Roadtrip: Two one-room school houses

On a Friday several weeks ago, the day before we were going to set out for the farm (again!), I went for a bike ride in the country northwest of town. That evening Sarah inquired about where I went, and my description included going down Skeleton Bridge Road. That got us wondering where the Skeleton Bridge was, so we asked the internet. One of the search results was for the Skeleton Bridge School, a restored one-room school that was open for visits only from 10 am to noon on Saturdays during July and August. (I had ridden past it but didn't notice.) Our route the next morning took us right by so we decided to stop and take a look.

It was active from 1858 until 1957 as noted on the sign above the door.

Since these schools served children from about age five to about thirteen, each row of desks got successively larger.

The smallest children sat at a table near the windows.

Hosting visitors were two gentlemen who had attended the school in the 1940's.  One of them was the owner who spent years trying to acquire the place as it faced removal or conversion to a residence. (The one-room school Sarah's mother attended is now someone's home). He had remained in the area all his life.  He did most of the restoration himself and somehow tracked down many of the actual items from his school days, many of which were bought by his schoolmates' families when the school closed.  He gave us a very short (hence the underexposure) performance on the school's piano he had learned to play on as a child.

It's hard to imagine this little wood stove could keep the room warm through Wisconsin winters. We were told how they would go ice skating on the nearby creek during recess.

By the way, it's Skeleton Bridge School and Road because it's just next to the bridge on Highway S over Dagget's Creek, originally known as the Skeleton River because early European settlers found human bones in it.

Since I spent my career in what is now called Learning Technologies, but which was Audio-Visual Communications when I started, it was interesting to see the technology they had - this wind-up record player, on which we heard the William Tell Overture. The little doors on the front were how volume was controlled. Without any sort of electronic amplification, it was surprisingly loud with them wide open like this.

Somewhat ironically, the site also includes the owner's collection of classic cars. The red 1967 Mustang was the first, which he had bought new.  The pink 1956 Thunderbird with a turquoise interior was Sarah's childhood dream car when she saw one exactly like it on a family shopping trip to Minneapolis.

The earliest and by far the rarest is this Ford Model S from 1908 just before the introduction of the more well known Model T later that year.

The reason we were so interested in this visit was because Sarah attended a school like this for one year before it was closed in 1957. Her father and grandfather went there and her great-grandfather probably helped build it in 1885. Originally on the corner opposite her family farm, it was moved to the Pierce County Fairgrounds, complete with her brother's initials carved into one of the desks.

It's open only during the Fair, which coincidentally was happening while we were there. Unfortunately when we went there on Sunday, no one from the Historical Society showed up to open it.

All with the New Glarus Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame.

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