David Isham, second from left, with his mother and other members of his family OBSERVER COURTESY PHOTO

By Ginger Isham

Special to the Observer

I enjoyed my grade school years. 

We began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and sang a patriotic song such as “America.” 

I was a good student and teachers gave me positive comments. I remember the first time I learned to write. We all had to have a lined piece of paper at an angle on our desk. Then, with a pencil, we made Os by circling the pencil in place 10 times and then moved it over and did the same thing until we had a row that looked like puffs of smoke. 

In eighth grade there were only three of us. We older students sometimes helped the young ones with reading, math, etc. We had an hour for lunch and recess from 12-1 p.m. When we came in from recess at 1 p.m., we had to put our heads on our desk and the teacher would read us a book — one chapter each day — so we could rest. 

We had to bring our lunch to school every day except during the winter months. Nearby families took turns bringing in hot lunches. We got our drinking water from a nearby farm. I remember in seventh grade at one of my schools the class was divided in half, into two teams. Each morning the teacher would check to see if we had combed our hair, had clean hands, face, clean clothes, etc. Each team was given a star on a chart until the time ended and then she told us which team was the winner.

When a freshman entered Bristol High School, the senior class that year would have a plan of what the freshman would wear the first day of school. My freshman year I had to have my hair parted four ways with a rubber band, wear one hip fisherman’s boot and wear an alarm clock around my neck. 

We would carry the seniors’ books if they asked us to for the day. Also, when in high school, I had to wait an hour after school ended for my ride home with the neighbor who brought me to school. I would hang out with a friend or go to the library. 

I also waitressed at SNAPS restaurant during lunch hour some of those days. In high school my worst subjects were geometry and algebra. I enjoyed English and home economics, learning how to cook and sew. 

I sang in the Glee Club for all four years and was on patrol, helping students cross the streets to and from school and during lunch time. 

In our senior year, a girl and boy were chosen as best actors, best looking, cutest, most athletic, friendliest, most polite, etc. I was the girl selected as hardest worker. There were many advantages to going to a smaller school. There were 29 classmates in my graduation class.

David Isham, right, and his older brother, Roderick, making ice cream.

David was janitor for the Lake Iroquois School and started the fire in the morning, brought in wood and cleaned erasers. He and five brothers and sisters attended this school at the same time. He remembers one day at recess time, he jumped out the open school window to get to a swing before they were all taken. The teacher went out and brought him back into the classroom and showed him where the schoolhouse door was located! This was the same teacher who became his sister-in-law a few years later when she married his oldest brother. 

Even though his poorest subject was English, he wrote a wonderful essay on forestry and got a certificate for it. He did well in math. 

When David graduated from high school, there were over 100 students in his class. He was never able to participate in sports, music, etc. because of work on the farm. 

Today I have all my report cards and we have a few of David’s.

Past Times is a biweekly trip down memory lane with members of the Williston Historical Society.

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