Skip to content

More Memories of Jacksonville Grade School (Part 3)

May 26, 2021

More Memories of Jacksonville Grade School (Part 3)

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                WORDWALK continues to honor Jacksonville Grade School which last closed its doors in Blanford, Indiana, sixty years ago this month of May.  Previously, we entered the brick, two-story building from its front or south door.  Entry doors were also located on the east and west sides of the school.  From these side doors, one walked onto a landing from where a student could either take a flight of stairs to the upper floor (described in the May 12 post of WORDWALK) or take the flight of stairs to go to the lower level.  Although about half of the lower floor was below ground level, the huge, very tall and wide windows certainly did not give the rooms the look nor the feel of being in a basement.  If a visitor entered the west door and took the downstairs, on the left was the first- and second-grade classroom with its cloak room, lined on either of the long sides with hooks for coats or jackets.  At the window (short end) of the cloak room was a table on which was a porcelain washpan for washing hands.  The cloak room had two doors that entered into the classroom, with its row-type of wooden desks.  How I did love this style of school desks!  The upper right area of the top of the desk had a hole for an inkwell (even though the ink well was not used during my school days).  A horizontal groove at the far end of the top of the desk was a place for resting a pencil or fountain pen.  Below the top of the desk was an open shelf for storing a student’s books, tablets, pencils, erasers, and papers.  The wooden back of the seat was also the front of the desk located behind the one desk.  The seat was attached by hinges which allowed the seat to move to a vertical or horizontal position.  Generations of students before my class of “Baby Boomers” born in 1950) carved their initials into the solid wood.  Reading these initials provided distractions and also gave reasons for selecting or not selecting a particular desk.  I never recall anyone of my fellow classmates carving anything onto the desktops, yet I think we were in awe of those who did.

                Each classroom of Jacksonville Grade School displayed a United States flag on a pole in the front right corner of the room.  Additionally, each classroom featured a large framed print of President Washington and President Lincoln.  Blackboards and bulletin boards filled most of the walls.  On the bulletin board area that ran atop the blackboards in the first- and second-grade classes were placards with the print alphabet.  Above the blackboards in the third- and fourth-grade classroom were placards with a beautiful display of cursive writing of both the upper and lower-case letters of the alphabet.  I especially recall gazing at the cursive letters in the Palmer Method.

                The cloak rooms of the lower-grade classrooms were back-to-back, with the third- and fourth-grade classroom to the west side of the building, the side where the schoolbell was located.

                While my first-grade teacher was the strict, no-nonsense, very short Miss Ralston, my second-grade teacher was the very young and pretty Miss Jones (later Mrs. Bogetto).  Thanks to these teachers, DICK AND JANE reading series, and phonics–I received a solid foundation for the beginning of my school years.

                Moving to a new classroom in 1958 was exciting, and my third-grade teacher was the especially kind and gentle Mrs. Evelyn Keown.  During the latter half of third-grade and all of fourth-grade, my teacher was the lovely and artistic Mrs. Marguerite Lenderman who had the best bulletin boards in the school.  Mrs. Lenderman wrote in the most perfect and beautiful cursive:  besides admiring Mrs. Lenderman’s handwriting, I tried my best to immolate her cursive style.  In each classroom was a large solid wood teacher’s desk.  At times, we students would gather around Mrs. Lenderman’s desk to ask questions.  “Teacher, teacher,” we said to garner her attention.  However, this third- and fourth-grade teacher tried to break us of this habit by insisting that we address her as “Mrs. Lenderman.”  Most often, we eventually tried to please our wonderful teacher. 

                Since Mr. and Mrs. Lenderman periodically ate at my Aunt Zita’s Italian restaurant, our family became lifelong friends of the Lendermans, who owned and operated a large farm in a nearby county.  Decades after Mrs. Lenderman was my teacher, I met her at a restaurant in Terre Haute (Larry Bird’s Boston Connection), and she was still using the same tone of voice to insist that I have my article about my first guide-dog published.  Throughout my sister’s life and my life, as well as through our teaching careers, Mrs. Lenderman has been an inspiration to my sister and me, as well as to many other former students.  For example, Mrs. Lenderman had her students memorize the list of prepositions; I did so, and this memorization of prepositions has served me very well throughout my teaching and writing careers. 

                The smallness of the school and the quality of the teachers, the atmosphere of the old building and the dedication of the community to the school created the most remarkable educational opportunities and positive memories for the eighty-eight students who left the school in May of 1961.

May God bless those outstanding teachers who have been so instrumental in our lives,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

May 26, 2021, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. Alice, the layout of your elementary school sounds similar to that of the school where I was mainstreamed after my family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    • Abbie–How interesting to learn from your comment that your school building in Wyoming was similar to our school in Indiana!

      Enjoy the weekend–Alice and Willow

  2. mfanyo permalink

    Yes, Alice, Mrs. Lenderman was a remarkable teacher and a wonderful role model for all of us future teachers. She once told our mother that she had observed me making the Sign of the Cross before a spelling test. When Mother asked me about that, my response was “Well, I made an A, didn’t I?”
    With smiles and prayers for you and Willow,

    • Hi, Mary–Thanks for adding your anecdote to this posting about our hometown’s grade school.  I certainly recall the story you shared.  I also remember that Mrs. Lenderman gave students a variety of stickers (seals) and gold or silver stars which I loved to receive on my papers.  Years later, I realized that she had most likely purchased the special stickers for us with her own money at Viquesney’s, an office/school supply store on Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana.

      Enjoy the Memorial Weekend–Alice and Willow

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: