This & That
Swift fondly remembers Dewey Elementary School
By Jack SwiftRecently I was reminiscing about my days at good old Dewey Elementary School. Dewey Elementary was just one of many one or two room schools dotting the Johnson County countryside. The late Ross D. Fritts, who served as Johnson County teacher or Superintendant of Schools for a number of years, authored a book in 1978 titled Development of Education in Johnson County Tennessee. I was honored to be asked to take some of the photographs for the book. In the book, Fritts relates the fact that 67 schools were at one time or another operating in the county. Almost every community had a school. When consolidation occurred, many were upset. They were not happy with their school being taken from their community, but I believe most of them eventually saw that it was for the best.
Dewey School was a white frame building located where the new Dewey Christian Church is now located. A coal shed and two little brown buildings were the other buildings on the rather large lot. I’ll let you guess what the little brown buildings were. Dewey had two rooms separated by a folding partition. Looking at the front of the building, the left side housed the fifth grade through the eighth grade. The right side housed the first grade through the fourth grade. A pot bellied stove dominated a corner of each room. In the winter you would get too hot close to the stove and you would freeze if you were sitting in the back.
There were many subjects taught at the old school. It must have been a real task to schedule all the subjects with all the students. I remember there was a bench that was located in front of the teacher’s desk and a blackboard behind him or her. Each class was called up at the appropriate time to recite a particular subject. This went on all day long.
I’ll have to admit my main subject was “recess.” That was when we could go out and play. We had a recess in the morning and one in the afternoon. Of course, an hour was taken for lunch. For most of my elementary day schooling, the “Hot Lunch Program” was in effect. Before that students brought their lunches from home.
The large lot the school was on accommodated a number of sports and games. As I grew older I loved to play a form of baseball using what we called a “sponge ball.” Touch football was also a game we loved to play. Two men from the neighborhood would come and play quarterback while those on the team would run the ball or go out for a pass. It was pretty tame until you ran into somebody head on, and then you would see stars for awhile. I experienced that a number of times. We finally received outside basketball goals that were used a lot. I believe I can name all the teachers I had at Dewey School: Mrs. Rena Shoun, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Alta Lloyd, Mr. Clyde Wilson, Mr. Mark Reece, and Mr. John A. Shoun. They did a great job under the circumstances and I would guess their salaries weren’t too high at that time.
My time at Dewey Elementary School was a good experience. We didn’t have the most up-to-date equipment, but we made the best of what we had and received what I believe to be a pretty good elementary education.