from the Journal of Jess Arnold (1906-1994)

 

Merrifield School, Milton Twp., Rock Co., WI

 

Courtesy of Clark Kidder

Excerpt from the Journal of Jess ARNOLD (1906-1994), lifelong resident of Rock County, Wisconsin. In this section he recalls his school experiences at the Merrifield School and later at Edgerton High School.
When I came to live with my father I started to Merrifield school. I fell in love with
the school, and the teacher the very first day, and I never got over it. The kids were wonderful, and the teacher was like a mother to me.
My teachers at Merrifield school did not only teach the three R's. They taught us
how to play and get along with each other, When it was time to go outdoors to play the teacher went with us. There were several games that we liked to play. We went from one to the other for variety.
Softball, I think, was our favorite. The teacher and kids of all ages took part. When
the little ones came to bat, the fielders had a way of falling over their feet until the little ones got on base. We must have had a wonderful teacher over those years.
Every spring we always had what we called, Arbor Day. Everyone got to school
early that day. The teacher & kids cleaned up the yard and then started out for Merryfields (MERRIFIELD) woods. The woods was about a 20 acre area covered with trees, grass and flowers, and a marshy lake of about four or five acres. At that time it was almost as nature had made it. There were a few deep hollows filled with ferns. I have always loved ferns. The rest of the woods was covered with shooting stars, blue bells, violets etc.
There were wasp nests, which looked like Japanese lanterns, I am sorry to say that
we boys would throw stones at them, but as we had to be a comfortable distance for a running start the wasps were not in too great danger. I remember that at least one big hollow tree had a swarm of honeybees. When you looked up between the trees you were apt to see a hawk or two soaring overhead. They could go all four directions, and up & down by just bending their wings in the right directions.
By this time we were ready to have our pail lunches by the little lake. After our lunch
we had a game of softball, and then it was time to head for home. Those dinner pails were filled with the interesting things we found during the day. There was apt to be a few turtles which found there way into a few stock tanks, when we got home.
The teachers we had during those years must have been wonderful. The school board
must have been made up of some very fine people, to be able to choose such child loving teachers.
I don't remember myself as being the perfect pupil. I sometimes got some strange
ideas in my head that made, even me, wonder how they got there, I remember one time I was kept after school. I sat there for about 1/2 hour, and asked the teacher if I could go to the toilet. Instead, I ran home. Of course, the next day I had to stay after school again. I did not care. I would do almost anything to relieve my sense of guilt. The teacher talked to me very kindly for a few minutes, then told me I could go home. After that experience I loved that teacher with all my heart. I would never again do anything to change her faith in me. I had many teachers in my boyhood days. Years later, I married one, (Dorothy NISKERN) she was the most wonderful of them all, for sixty wonderful years.
When I was 15 years old, my Aunt Tillie, (Mathilda ARNOLD EARLE) invited me
to come to live with her and go to high school [in Edgerton]. She was a big woman, not fat, with beautiful brown eyes. It was a pleasure for me to just stop to admire her. From that day on, my life kept getting better.
This was an entirely new world for me. I soon gained the reputation of being shy and
quiet. It never occurred to me to make myself famous. I had a few teachers who told me I was a little above average. That was good enough for me. My high school record would have been a little better if I had had a more loveable English teacher. She had no use for the likes of me, and the feeling was quite mutual. But this experience had its value. She always picked on me, but my classmates always stood up for me, bless their hearts. I was much more interested in having friends than being famous.

©2006 ALHN-Rock County, Wisconsin

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