School days 75 years ago – The Hartselle Enquirer

by Clif Knight

There have been many changes in education since the 1940s, when it was common for a student to drop out of school after the eighth grade rather than pursue enough credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Lack of resources to continue education was one of the main reasons for leaving school early. Later, scholarships and easy loans removed that hurdle and played in favor of graduate colleges and universities.

The incentive for students to stay in school after high school was not very high immediately before, during, and immediately after World War II. Males at age 18 were required to register for military service in times of war. Some of them volunteered for the army at or before that age and others were drafted. Others dropped out of school early in anticipation of being drafted. The morale of the students left behind in school dropped due to concern for older siblings or parents serving in combat overseas.

I was a first-grade student at Bob S. Jones Elementary and Middle School in Etowah County when Japan attacked U.S. military forces in the Hawaiian Islands in December 1941. I remember how shocked and disorganized it was to be a student freshman

So we had three 18-year-old boys attending the school, and all of them were troublemakers. We had to watch out for them when we played marbles.

They would slither behind us, grab as many marbles as they could and throw them as far as they could. So we would have to chase the marbles trying to find them. Our worst fear of them was letting them catch us in or near the open-air bathroom, grabbing us and dragging us into the bathroom, and threatening to force us into one of the bathroom holes.

They harassed the school staff on their last day of school by grabbing the glasses of one of the teachers, throwing them on the ground and crushing them with their feet. It was hard to miss the tumult that followed. He wanted to find out what happened to them after absorbing all the confusion his actions caused, but it never happened. I remember that the playground benefited from his absence. We were able to keep the marbles we had won and our trips to the outdoor bathroom were made without fear getting into one of the holes.

There have been many changes in education since the 1940s, when it was common for a student to drop out of school after the eighth grade rather than pursue enough credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Lack of resources to continue education was one of the main reasons for leaving school early. Later, scholarships and easy loans removed that hurdle and played in favor of graduate colleges and universities.

The incentive for students to stay in school after high school was not very high immediately before, during, and immediately after World War II. Males at age 18 were required to register for military service in times of war. Some of them volunteered for the army at or before that age and others were drafted. Others dropped out of school early in anticipation of being drafted. The morale of the students left behind in school dropped due to concern for older siblings or parents serving in combat overseas.

I was a first-grade student at Bob S. Jones Elementary and Middle School in Etowah County when Japan attacked U.S. military forces in the Hawaiian Islands in December 1941. I remember how shocked and disorganized it was to be a student freshman

So we had three 18-year-old boys attending the school, and all of them were troublemakers. We had to watch out for them when we played marbles.

They would slither behind us, grab as many marbles as they could and throw them as far as they could. So we would have to chase the marbles trying to find them. Our worst fear of them was letting them catch us in or near the open-air bathroom, grabbing us and dragging us into the bathroom, and threatening to force us into one of the bathroom holes.

They harassed the school staff on their last day of school by grabbing the glasses of one of the teachers, throwing them on the ground and crushing them with their feet. It was hard to miss the tumult that followed. He wanted to find out what happened to them after absorbing all the confusion his actions caused, but it never happened. I remember that the playground benefited from his absence. We were able to keep the marbles we had won and our trips to the outdoor bathroom were made without fear getting into one of the holes.

About William G.

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