My Memories of the Ridge Schoolhouse

Those Were the Days
My Memories of the Ridge Schoolhouse
By Josephine Lundy, former schoolteacher
Long Island Forum
Spring 1996

Mrs. Josephine Lundy, from the collection of Barbara Martz.

Almost sixty years have passed since, in the September of 1936, I entered the one room schoolhouse in Ridge, New York, as the new teacher. Naturally, in sixty years, some of my memories have faded a little, but on the following pages. I will try to convey the flavor of education on eastern Long Island to the best of my ability.

I was hired for the reaching position by two of the school's trustees, John Randall and Jason Randall. These two men were descendants of the original Randalls, who first settled in this area, They were kind and generous men and they respected and trusted me as much as I did them. In other years, some of the trustees included Louis Zackman, Henry Schlacter and James Barry.

I don't remember my exact salary at the time, but it was somewhere in the area of fifteen hundred dollars per year. In addition to my salary, I received an additional five dollars per year to take a yearly census. Also, I was responsible for doing any necessary janitorial work, and for this I received another fifty dollars per year.

The children I taught back then came from approximately eighteen families who lived in the area. They were:

Virginia and Lucille Kemple
Wilfred Raynor
Herbert, Austin and Madeline Randall
Helen Keeney
Beatrice Hollowell
Marie, Joan and Bobby Borst
Gloria Gray
James Barry
Carol. Naomi, Joan, Henry and Robert Schlacter
Ruth Shannon
Joan, Louis, Barbara and Warren Zackman
Alexander and Elizabeth Porter
Heston and Dolores Wrobel
Lorraine Seibert
Billy Thatner
Suzanne Lustgarten
Joseph, Marilyn and Eileen Carrol
Daisy and Wilburn Randall

Some of these families' children and grandchildren still live and operate businesses in Ridge today. The old schoolhouse is still standing, too, although it has been moved to the Smith Estate on Longwood Road.

In addition to the one room schoolhouse, there was a wooden outhouse. The outhouse was divided into a girl's side and a boy's side. Each side was a two-holer. There was a wooden shed close to the schoolhouse. This shed was used for coal and other storage.

Both the schoolhouse and the, shed were painted white and had gold shutters. There was a huge, flat stone at the front door of the schoolhouse. Upon entering the front door, there were hooks for the children's outerwear. The door to the classroom was in the center, and on each side of the door was a closet or storeroom. There were four windows. four chalkboards and ceiling lights. In the right rear corner, there was a bookcase upper and cabinet lower piece, I believe those pieces were built-in. In the left rear corner, there was an upright piano. Of course, there was a teacher's desk and chair. There was also a homemade table and "new" type desks for the students. Above one of the chalkboards, there was a set of shade-type maps. We also had the usual: a flag, a wall clock and a picture of George Washington. In the center of the room was a large, black iron stove used for heating. This stove was later replaced by an oil burner whose tank had to be filled with fuel stored in the outside shed. The room was decorated with samples of the children's papers and drawings.

My duties as teacher were to teach the state required subjects for grades one through eight. The number of children varied from year to year, but when the number reached eighteen, the decision was made to send the seventh and eighth graders to a school in Port Jefferson.

Each day's lessons consisted of arithmetic, followed by spelling, history, geography and reading. Writing was combined with English. Twice a year we studied about a famous poet, and the children memorized ten lines of a poem by that author.

There was no art teacher, so I taught that as well. Once or twice a month, on a Friday afternoon, we would take time for art class. The art work was always correlated with the seasons, holidays or lessons at the me. Since the ages of the students varied,we made sure that each students' art project was age appropriate. We used our art days to make small gifts for the parents for special days. These were the Depression days, so all of our art work and gifts were made from everyday items, all at little or no cost. An empty, glass jar became a vase, a nose tissue became a flower, etc. The trustees were generous and I was thrifty in ordering the necessary textbooks, workbooks, paper, ink and other supplies.

During World War II, a two-burner electric cooking unit was purchased. I used this to cook foods given to us by the federal government. Canned milk and powdered cocoa became hot chocolate, powdered milk and eggs became pudding, dried prunes became stewed prunes, and potatoes (with the dry milk) became potato soup.

As I search through my memories, there are various things that stand out in my mind. The children and I looked forward to Christmas with great excitement. We would learn songs, practice recitations, and put on a play for the parents. The parents greatly appreciated their children's efforts, and afterward, we would all enjoy refreshments together. Each parent would receive a gift made by his child. The students would receive a box of candy and an orange from the trustees. Since this was the Depression, this was a very special treat for the kids. There was also a gift for each student from me.

At the end of the school year in June, it was often unbearably hot inside the schoolhouse. Of course, there was no air conditioning then, so the children would gather their books and we would take our lessons outside. The children loved to do this.

When the 1938 hurricane hit Long Island. I didn't know what was happening at first. All I knew was that all of a sudden I was unable to hold the children's attention. When I realized what was happening, I knew I would be no competition for the falling trees and high winds. I asked the children to put away their work and we all watched what was going on outside. Finally, the parents began co arrive to fetch their sons and daughters. All came except Mr. Hollowell. He was the caretaker at the Smith estate, now a county park known as Longwood. The road was impassable, so I took Beatrice home with me to Patchogue. Once home. I tried to call her parents, but all the telephone lines were down.

During my years at the Ridge, schoolhouse, some improvement were made. A telephone was installed, a back door was installed and a small addition was added to the rear of the building. This became a boy's and girl's bathroom.

I remained reaching at the Ridge school for seven years, and then resigned to have a child of my own After a few years, Mr. Zackman called to ask me to return. School had opened in September with a teacher who decided to leave at the end of the month. Another teacher came and stayed until after Christmas, and then they had nobody to teach the children. I was very much needed, and was offered the amount of fifteen hundred dollars for the remainder of the school year. (This was my yearly salary in 1936). I accepted and also returned to teach the following year.

Recalling my years teaching at the Ridge schoolhouse- the children, the parents, the trustees and the community has indeed been a pleasant experience.

Last, but definitely not least, I have the pleasure of keeping in touch with four of my former pupils, the Zackman children. At age 84, I am glad to say that they are still my very special friends. Each year they invite me to their family reunion. This special day is October 29th. So ends this trip down memory lane.

This is Josephine Lundy's first appearance in the Forum.

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