The Abandoned Country School House

Copyright 1972- Jim Pete

As Heard on the Good Stuff with Jim Thompson


The outside is weatherbeaten, the paint is cracked and peeling;

            An election notice hangs there in the hall

Bragging all about the candidates who’d declared themselves as qualified

            For the school board…many years ago last fall.


And that was prob’ly ‘bout the last time that was heard the merry laughter

            Of the children who attended ‘way back then,

For today the pigeons roost in the empty, leaking belfry…

            While swallows lift and soar across the glen.


And they’ve found their way inside to build their nests upon the walls;

            I watch them dip and skim the evening air

While a skunk’s scent is a perfume from the rocky old foundation,

            A proclamation that it’s still living there…


The shingles, old and weathered, are mostly gray and mossy.

            And the door hangs sort of cockeyed on the hinge;

The knobs and lock are missing, the keyplate hangs inverted

            And the key hole flutes a sad song in the wind.


Now, if you look into a window you’ll see jumbled stacks of history,

            And the elements of English and other books

That long ago were opened by some child’s anxious fingers

            While shying hard from teacher’s scolding looks…


The world globe is still in place, there upon a table;

            There’s a picture of George Washington in the clouds,

And Old Glory is still hanging, with the pledge penned underneath…

            One can close their eyes and almost hear those kids recite alound…


The blackboards wrap around the room, one made somewhat lower

            For the younger kids who couldn’t reach as high…

And chalk-filled felt erasers are strewn across the buckled floor

            That once buzzed past the heads of smaller fry…


And there’s their desks, initial-carved, all pointing yon and hither;

            And a faded free-hand poster on the wall,

And as the wind plays with it’s corner through a jagged, broken window

            I wonder; did the artist make the big time after all?


And there’s teacher’s desk, reposing, in the corner near the windows

            That march their way across the sunny side…

And Likely women were most teachers as I found a broken compact

            Etched with dainty roses there inside.


And the last kids were to visit scrawled their names across the blackboard;

            There’s a roll of toilet paper on the floor…

And I wonder who was last to run out back, it tightly clutched,

            Sped on by giggles trailing through the door?


And there, within the cloak room, is someone’s little mitten

            Left perhaps the last school day that spring…

As the older kids ran laughing, shouting back to hurry

            Or they’d miss their ride to bigger and better things…


And I wonder…Did they all do well from this country school beginning?

            Where the shy and quiet often bloom alone?

Of so, this one-room school house should rate a place in history,

            Knowing that within it’s walls the seeds were sown…


And how many from this humble start went on to finish high school;

            How many pledged to college come that fall?

And who were those who opted for a simple path to follow?

            Or how may heeded yet a stronger call?


Today, the country school house seems a relic of the past;

            No more do children learn the Golden Rule…

And no more does the teacher’s bell signal recess over

            But recess is the plan for country schools