In his later years my late father-in-law, Dewey Kaldenberg, one of 12 siblings, loved to tell stories of his early years. He wove so many tales above and beyond the norm that his listeners would often shake their heads in amazement. They were a testimony to a time long ago that would never take place again.
One of my favorite stories dealt with how he landed his first job when he was 10 years old. A farmer, who lived a few miles out of town, hired him to take his two daughters to and from school each day. To do this, he moved to their farm and lived with the family during the week. He would return to his family’s home for the weekends.
Each morning he harnessed a horse, strapped it to a buggy (or sleigh) and took the girls to school. There he and the girls, who were near his age, would attend school all day. After school, they would return to the farm, where he would also help the farmer with his evening chores.
I couldn’t help but think of that story when I read this list of duties outlined for teachers from the late 1800s:
Teachers each day will fill lamps and clean chimneys.
Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and scuttle of coal for today’s lesson.
Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
Each teacher should lay aside a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
You can bet those days will never take place again!
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.