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A Few Thoughts on My Education in Johnson County

Plans have been made for the 55th-year Reunion of the Johnson County High School Class of 1956. Letters have been sent to class members informing them of the plans. Various events will take place over a two-day period. Hopefully, there will be a large number of class members in attendance. I am proud to be a member of that class and I look forward to the reunion.
As I was thinking of the reunion and the number of years it has been since we walked the halls of good old JCHS, It occurred to me how fortunate I was to be living in that time in history compared to a few years before. Now I’m not saying that times since then have been worse. There have been many improvements. There are work-saving gadgets that we would never even have dreamed about in 1956. The fields of medicine, education, science and others have seen great advances.
While I’m perfectly satisfied living in today’s world, I want to reminisce in this column a bit about events leading up to my high school days and subsequent graduation.
I was born March 22, 1938 and raised on a small farm about two miles off Highway 67 in the Dewey Community of Johnson County. (I subscribe to a couple of magazines that print stories written by readers who reminisce about various happenings in their life and I have been struck by how many of the stories are set in the mid to late ‘30s. I’m seeing stories concerning 1938 often in those publications.)
I was fortunate to have been born into a loving and caring family. When I grew old enough to work, I did farm work and also worked for others in the community. Because of that I know what physical work is about and I don’t regret experiencing it as a youth. Electricity hadn’t reached our neighborhood until I was about 10 years old so my studying for classes at Dewey Elementary School was by kerosene lamps. Dewey School was located in the area where the new Dewey Christian Church building is now. I was very fortunate to have great teachers in that little two-roomed, two-teacher school. I think a lot of my classmates were educated through the Eighth Grade in facilities like that. There was no gym so baseball and touch football were played a lot during recess and the lunch hour. Two outside basketball goals were installed in the late ‘40s.
In the fall after I graduated from elementary school, I enrolled in Johnson County High School. Fortunately bus transportation had been available awhile, although in my early days at Dewey we walked to school. I was fortunate to have great teachers in high school and after a bit of initial adjustment, I got along pretty well.
Feelings of my good fortune are magnified when I think how difficult it was to get a high school education a few years before my birth. There was no bus service for students then. At that time (before consolidation) there were a number of little white-frame schoolhouses in Johnson County. In fact in a period of time there were 67 elementary schools in the county. I think school officials tried to have schools in walking distance for the students.
It was very difficult for students who lived in outlying areas of the county to attend high school, so in 1911 a high school dormitory was erected at a cost of $2,800 and it helped many get a high school education. It was a huge two-story frame structure located next to North Church Street on the property now owned by Post 61 of the American Legion. The building was later razed and a new Post Home was built back of the property.
I was fortunate in many ways. Electricity had become available, I had great teachers throughout my elementary and high school days and county bus service was available to make it easier for me to attend high school compared to an earlier time. These are just a few of my many blessings concerning my education in Johnson County, but they are important ones.