The Day The Stove Pipe Fell Down

1102 West River Road, Battle Creek, Michigan

Our old country school was a one room affair and in it’s
center sat a mammoth Round Oak stove which in mild weather was
fired with wood, and in severe weather with coal. We didn’t
have any well nor inside plumbing so water had to be carried by
older boys taking turns from day to day, from the nearest
neighbor’s pump more than a quarter of a mile away. We carried
it in an open pail and were lucky if we got back with half a pail
full. It was carried during recess. The school house did not have
any insulation and had a very high ceiling. It was about as easy to
heat as a corn crib. The teacher not only had to do all janitor
work, and arrive there at least half an hour before the rest in
severe weather in the morning to have the place thawed out, all for
$35 a month.

One particularly cold day, though it was mostly red hot, the
stove t wasn’t keeping the place warm enough. The teacher
inserted the poker in the grate to shake down the ashes and shook
it quite violently. Now the old stove was a rather shaky affair.
The legs were loose, and all of a sudden the wire holding up the
pipe broke and the entire eight sections crashed to the floor,
followed by three vertical sections, filling the place with soot
and sparks. The teacher cried. She put a board over the the top of
it but that soon caught fire. She had to open some of the windows
as the place was getting full of smoke. Most of us did not share
her feeling. We danced around shouting ‘Goody-goody. The
school-house is going to burn up!’ She sent us all home and the
nearest neighbor immediately came and put out the fire in the stove
with snow. School was not resumed for nearly a week. Our parents
held a bee, and a lot of water had to be hauled, a lot of scrubbing
and window washing done and curtains laundered first. Much to our
chagrin, we had to make up that lost time at the end of the school

I think I must have been in about the third or fourth grade at
the time.

I well recall the first motorcycle I ever saw. I was in about
the second grade at country school and about 9:30 in the morning we
heard a popping and sputtering noise and stretched our necks to
look out the windows. The teacher told us to sit down and behave
ourselves. In a moment someone knocked on the door. It was the
county school inspector, who had ridden over dirt roads from the
county seat some 15 miles away. He stayed for about an hour and at
recess time left, so we had a chance to see it when he took off. It
was a Pope, and resembled a cross between a bicycle and a
motorcycle. It had pedals and regular chain drive like a regular
bicycle, also a stand like they used to make for bicycles. The
engine was a two cycle affair with belt drive to the rear wheel. He
climbed on it and started pedalling real fast. He then tightened
the belt and the motor started, making lots of racket and smoke. He
then loosened the belt and raised the stand, and ran along beside
it and jumped on and was gone in a cloud of dust. Of course right
then and there every boy in school decided that he was going to
have a motorcycle.

When my oldest son David came home from his first day at school
I asked him what he learned in school today. He said ‘I learned
that my teacher is mean and she means it.’ (Apparently he had
violated some rule or other and found that they were to be rigidly

About a year later one evening his mother gave him a helping of
beans for his supper. He said ‘You gave me too much, you gave
me 1-2-3-420 beans’ I said to him ‘David, you eat one and
count those that are left’ He did so, each time counting the
remaining ones, having a very good time at it, and soon they were
all gone, he then held up his plate and shouted ‘More

Kids sometimes get some funny ideas, a couple of them were
talking, and one of them said ‘They are going to give my big
sister a shower. She’s going to get married next week, and I
‘spose I’ll have to take one too’.

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