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The locale for the Collins School attendance covered a large territory of the community. From the ridges at the top of the hills, up and down the road, across the creek, up Flag Run Branch, up to Echo Dell valley, up Emily Run Branch creek, along the ravines called “hollers,” where many houses were landscaped with lots of trees and bluegrass lawns. Down the road across Emily Run Branch creek, over across Drennon Creek as the Susan Jane Tingle crossing and on down this side of the Drennon Creak to the Martinie Run Branch Creek.
The side of the school faced Drennon Road, with the front facing down the road., which was a dirt road. The coalhouse and the outhouse were out back. there weren’t any trees located in the back of the school, only along the edge of the hill and a few by the creek. Because the sites were cleared for firewood and kept that way for the safety of the children.
The front door was into a cloakroom where we entered and set our lunchbox upon a shelf. The lunchbox or a pail which was a small molasses bucket with a lid to hold your lunch containing a biscuit and sausage or bacon and eggs, sometimes with ham or shoulder meat. A biscuit covered with some wild blackberry jam or whatever kind of preserves was opened and setting on the kitchen table. You had to take a glass to drink from in your lunchbox. You had to hang your coat upon a hook beneath your lunch box, with your galoshes setting under your coat. This was the order we were supposed to follow to keep up with our belongings in that designated spot.
The classroom was entered from the cloakroom, and we were assigned a desk. That is where we had to sit and study our lessons. Sometimes, we listened to the other grades without being noticed, after we had read and did our lessons. The classroom was heated by a big pot-bellied stove with coal. Water was drawn up from the well that you can still see where its location is today, along the side of the road with a wooden box built around it for protection. The bucket of water with a dipper was setting upon a table. The blackboard was located from the third window to the back side of the building on the front side by the road.
The one room school offered an education for students in grades one through eight. A lifetime of learning was experienced through daily Bible readings and prayer. We had to repeat Bible verses we had learned. The most used verse was the shortest sentence in the Bible. “Jesus wept.” Everyone joined together in the Pledge of Allegiance. Last but not least, in being aware of discipline centered on the famous hand held ruler, which was used upon the palm of the hand. The paddle was a rather hard board made from wood and used on the rear, which taught a lesson well. While many parents reinforced this lesson upon their child’s arrival at home and it was accepted as the most important part of the learning process in the rules of obedience.
The studies in the learning process consisted of the three Rs — “reading, riting and rithmetic,” along with geography, history and selling, with a highly noted “Penmanship in Writing,” which attained an award to be framed and hung on your wall at home.
The teachers were sent to the area schools where they taught and boarded with a nearby family. Mr. Charlie Kitson from Port Royal, taught at Collins School in the 1930s. He was also the handyman. He put a swing on a big sycamore tree located in the playground area. I never knew how he learned my name, because he called me “Lee-a-nor.” Some folks said to me, “Why don’t you tell him your name is pronounced El-a-nor?” What? You want me to tell a teacher? Correct a teacher! Oh no, not me. I can’t make some understand how my name is pronounced today: El-a-nor, not El-a-nur, please!
Mr. Kitson was a really nice person. He knew our family, that’s how I was assured he knew my name. I used to see him at Port Royal in later years and he still called me Lee-a-nor. He passed away at the age of 84 in 1978. He was Kenneth’s first grade teacher in the 1932-33 school year at Collins. Kenneth said that was the only year he was down there. He was in the third grade at New Castle, and the sixth through 12th grade at Campbellsburg, where he graduated in May 1945. He was in the U.S. Air Force from Jan. 1946 through Jan. 1949. I met him in the middle of May 1949, and we were married December 5, 1950.
We would have celebrated our 60th anniversary on Dec. 5, 2010, but we had 58 1/3 wonderful years together and now I have a lifetime of memories to cherish with my family by my side.