AUTHOR SUNDAY – Post World War II – the privy was outside in this country school



Coming from a fairly new school in Childersburg in 1947 brought some changes when we moved back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama after the war.

Located six-miles south of Tuscaloosa

Taylorville Elementary School was our assigned school and was about two miles from our house. It was located six-miles south of Tuscaloosa and it was a real country school. The wooden white facility looked enormous to me as a 5th grader. There were 5 rooms housing grades 1 through 7. All the grades were grouped into 1st and 2nd together, 3rd and 4th together and 5th and 6th together. The 7th grade had a separate room to itself. One small room was used as storage and some infrequent piano lessons. The piano teacher used the one and only piano and taught the students in a group on dummy wooden piano keys. The lunchroom was located in the basement and students rotated working in the lunchroom.

Taylorville Primary school TuscaloosaTaylorville Primary school today (courtesy Tuscaloosa County school system)

When school started the first Tuesday after Labor Day we only went to school for a half a day for two weeks. Tuscaloosa County had a lot of rural schools so the half days attendance at school in the morning were so students who lived on farms could be off to pick cotton in the afternoon.

Restroom was a privy outside

The restroom facility was an outside privy. The four-seat rest room for girls was located in the back of the schoolyard and the boys’ privy was located up on a hill. The school did have electricity and obtained water from a well, although there was no gas for heat in the winter. Potbellied stoves provided heat in the four classrooms. The older boys in the 7th grade were responsible for starting the coal fires in the stoves in the morning. There was no janitorial service.

I found another drawer to clean out the other day and found this old report card of mine from May 21, 1948, at the end of the 6th-grade year. From the teacher, Mrs. Minnie Hallman she wrote,“ She has excellent work habits, except when she forgets herself and talks to her neighbors.” How so like me today. I like to talk to my friends! Mrs. Rosa Deason was the principal.

Bus slid into a ditch

The school buses number #35 and #77 traveled on gravel and dirt roads to pick up students. I remember one incident on a cold rainy afternoon that the bus rounded a curve and slid into the ditch. I was frightened of course, but I was looking out for the safety of my younger brother. I got the bus window down and shoved my brother out the window. I was too big to squeeze out the window so I had to wait until the bus driver could open the back emergency door to get out of the bus. This was not fun!

Most of the times the buses delivered the students too early for the 8 o’clock bell. So, to kill time the boys played marbles and the girls played hopscotch. I remember that my favorite piece for hopscotch was a broken piece of glass from the Milk of Magnesia blue bottle. Sometimes it was very cold standing outside the school waiting for the bell to ring.

Graduation was a big deal

Graduation activities for the 7th grade was a big deal. The girls wore white pique sun back dresses with jackets and the boys wore slacks and ties. The graduation ceremony was held during the day so not many parents attended due to working, or not having a car available. I remember how happy I was that I was now ready to go to the high school.

So ended my elementary school days after WWII.

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Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth

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  1. I attended The old Taylorville Elementary in 1958 and then it was replaced by the new Englewood Elementary. Mrs. Minnie Ora Neighbors was my 1st grade teacher…I remember the basement lunchroom, the outside toilets, and playground…I thought ms Mary Spiller was principal at that time and also taught 7th grade…mrs Shirley was in the separate building that could be seen from the 1st grade windows..5/6 was in the brownstone near road …it still stands…I would LOVE to have a picture of the old school!!

  2. I only have one pic of the Taylorville School. It is Mrs Deason’s 7th grade class of about 1950

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