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Dewey Elementary School is a relic of Johnson County's past

I enjoy looking back into the past, especially when the past applies to my own life and times. As I’ve said before in this column, one of my main aims is to spread Johnson County history. I think a study of my columns since I began writing This ‘N’ That twelve years ago will show I have done that. I’ve written about Tennessee, Johnson County and Mountain City including when these entities were created and some of the interesting things about each of them. Moreover, many folks I meet and talk with say they enjoy my columns about life as it was when they were young. I have tried to write columns with that theme as well.
I was thinking recently about education and how it has changed from my early years and now. I thought I would dedicate this column to the memory of my former elementary school teachers. I am using their names as I knew them then. They were Mrs. Rena Shoun, Mrs. Alta Loyd, Mrs. Roberts, Mr. John A. Shoun, Mr. Mark Reece and Mr. Clyde Wilson. Each of them was an influence on me and I was blessed to have them for my teachers. I want to share with you a typical day in my life as a student at Dewey Elementary School. Dewey School was located where the new Dewey Christian Church is now. It was a white frame building with two rooms: one for grades one through four in one room and grades five through eight in the other room. The wall separating the two rooms could be opened up to make one large room for special occasions such as graduations and other happenings.
When I was six-years-old, I started in the First Grade. In my early years at Dewey, I walked to school and back. It was in my later years at Dewey that school bus service was started. In winter my fellow students and I would come into a room warmed by a pot bellied coal stove. In sunny weather, the only way to stay cool was to open the windows. If I remember correctly, the day began with a prayer and the pledge to the flag. Soon each grade in turn would be called up to a bench in front of the teacher’s desk and blackboard. The subjects varied but for the higher grades the subjects consisted of Spelling, Reading, Penmanship, Arithmetic, and Geography. Perhaps there were more. The Hot Lunch program was started early in my school days at Dewey. Several ladies worked in the kitchen over time including my mother Carrie Swift and my aunt Nellie Crosswhite. Mrs. Winnie Wilson was a long-time cook there. A hot meal was really appreciated. In the winter, one of the older boys would go to the coalhouse and bring in coal for the day. There weren’t many tools of the teacher’s trade. If I remember correctly, we had an unabridged dictionary. I don’t believe we even had an encyclopedia. If anyone that attended Dewey has anything to add, feel free to send me an e-mail with stories about your time at Dewey. Perhaps I will use it later in another column.My e-mail address is [email protected]

Last year we had a Dewey Elementary School Reunion and I think another one will be planned for this year. Last year’s reunion was well attended and a lot of fun was had by all, as the saying goes.