Long ago, just after the turn of the last century, teachers in small, rural towns were still boarded at the homes of families whose children attended school. If one family had the room and was well enough off, they would have the teacher live with them throughout the entire school year. If times were tougher, the teacher may have had to move every few weeks, so as to share the burden of housing him or her. The teachers were often young. Girls and boys finished high school and then took a teacher’s course for another year or two to get a teaching certificate. They would then apply to school boards for a position.
Such was the case of my great grandmother, Nonny. If you read last week’s Saturday Story, you will recall that she spent the last half of her growing up years with her aunt and uncle. They didn’t have any children until Nonny was fifteen when they had one girl whom we all called Dellie (for Adele). Nonny was given a good education. She wrote poetry and loved to read. It stood to reason that when she became old enough, she became a teacher.
Pa, who would become her husband, was working as a farmhand. Many young people left home without much education because of hard economic circumstances. His father was a horse trader, but he was also an alcoholic, so there was never money in that home. By the 1900 census, when he was an older teen, he was already working at other farms, but living at home. When he reached his majority, he lived on the farm where he worked.
It just so happened that Pa worked on the very farm where Nonny was to board as a teacher one year. One day, his boss told him that the new school teacher was due on the train and asked Pa to go with a wagon into town to pick her up. He did as he was told and was rewarded with Cupid’s arrow. It was love at first sight. The shy school teacher felt the same way.
They were married in 1906. He went on to run a successful business. She bore six children, five of whom lived to adulthood. Together, they instilled love and laughter in their posterity. All of the children and grandchildren learned to love books from Nonny. All of the children learned to love animals from Pa. She died in the 1960s, he lived another ten years or so, living well into his 90s.