“Oh, yes, I remember going to school in a two-room schoolhouse called North Rock Creek,” Jimmy Dean Lanier said of school days in the 1940s.

“Oh, yes, I remember going to school in a two-room schoolhouse called North Rock Creek,” Jimmy Dean Lanier said of school days in the 1940s.

It didn't seem crowded, he said — as a matter of fact, it wasn't.

Lanier said there was a big room and a little room: one for grades one through four, and the other for grades five through eight.

He said when he started to school in the first grade, they asked him for his address.

“I didn't know what that was,” he said. “My friend Carl spoke up and said, 'he lives at the sway back barn with the sway back mules.'”

The next day Lanier said he reported he lived on Postal Route No. 3, four miles north of Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) and a half mile east.

The road is known as Wolverine, he said.

“My brother and I walked two miles (one way) to school,” he said. “One mile was Highway 18.”

He said the big interest along the highway was road-kill of all kinds.

“We didn't like to check on dead skunks,” he said.

He and his brother also counted the wheels on trucks as they passed — some had 10 or 12 wheels, he said.

“The school was located at the half-mile point of Garrett's Lake Road, so half walked from the east and half walked from the west,” he said. “Okay, yes, some walked through the fields; there were no buses.”

Schoolhouse

The students' desks were in rows — each row for a different grade, Lanier said.

“The desks had a drawer for your books and supplies, a slot on top for the pencil you were using and a hole for your ink bottle,” he said. “You had to sit over the ink bottle and open it into the aisle with your left hand.”

Huge folding doors divided the two rooms, he said.

“The doors could be pushed back to the wall by the large coal-burning heaters,” Lanier said. “In each of the rooms was a coat (or cloak) room and a small library.”

He said in the little room there was a stage with pull-up curtains.

“Behind the back curtain was the chalkboard, where we practiced math and spelling,” he said.

Lanier said hiding and chasing were also common behind the curtain — particularly on rainy days.

“Oh, of course, there were skits and plays performed for parents and community on special occasions,” he added.

“If you ran behind the curtain in front of the chalkboard to the other side, the curtain would flutter,” he said. “Often a teacher would be waiting for you at the other side, with a paddle in hand.”

He said it was embarrassing to then be asked to perform in the middle of the stage by catching one's ankles and receiving three swats.

“The students were allowed to clap,” he said, “if the teacher would nod her head.”

Trips to the communal pencil-eating sharpener also afforded opportunities for shenanigans, he said.

“Broken lead was an obvious excuse to pass — by friend or foe — to the other aisle,” he said. “If you were real quick you could dodge behind the big stove and throw a spitball of paper at another student.”

Getting a drink of water was eventful, Lanier said.

“If you walked out the exit door you would see the pump with a handle that had to be pumped by someone not drinking,”he said. “With the main valve being shut off, the water would squirt up through four little holes (if someone pumped) into a pipe; if two people put their fingers over the holes, then water would squirt in someone's face.”

Also, Lanier said there were no lights on the playground or in the outhouses.

School grounds

The school grounds weren't very large — not more than 1.5 to 2 acres, Lanier said.

“Beside the two-room main building there was a teacher's home in the southwestern corner of the school property,” he said.

The other buildings included two outhouses and a coal shed. And in the middle of the property was a storm cellar.

The storm cellar, which he said was flat and came up out of the ground about a foot high, provided a place to sit while eating a lunch bucket sandwich.

Playground

The playground equipment included swings, a slide and an “awesome” ocean wave, he said.

“We kept the slide waxed by using the 'Martha Ann' bread loaf wrappers from our bakery lunch buckets to sit on as we slid down,” he said. “Most of our lunch boxes (or buckets) were Karo syrup buckets.”

The slide was near to the east side of the cellar as a central attraction, Lanier said. Swings were on the west side of the playground and the ocean wave was on the east side.

“The slide was the favorite of the students in all grades,” he said. “It was a fast trip down — be ready to run when you got to the bottom.”

When a student wanted to swing he or she had to get someone to push, or learn how to pump legs and feet themselves.

“The girls had no trouble getting someone to push them,” he said.

The ocean wave was a good social activity, he said.

“The girls and boys both rode and pushed the spinning thing,” he said. “It looked like a spinning top and also like a merry-go-round — but unlike a merry-go-round — the ocean wave could go in and out to the center.”

At night the metal leg protector would make sparks when it hit the center post, he said.

“It seemed dangerous, but I don't remember anyone ever getting hurt on it,” he said. “But the slide and swings produced a few broken arms and sore ankles and skinned-up knees.”

Lanier said students could find loose nails on the back of the coal shed.

“But we were careful to put them back for tomorrow's use,” he said.

A basketball parking lot was between the two-room school and the teacher's house, he said.

“It was graveled, with a few mud holes around,” he said. “The gravel was not good to fall on nor to dribble the ball on.”

Lanier said on the east side of the school grounds was a field borrowed from Mr. Fred Swifel so students could play baseball.

“When a game was scheduled, (Swifel) would bring Royal Crown Cola for everyone,” Lanier said. “R.C. Cola was considered to be Rock Creek's own private cola.”

Also, there was a Sycamore tree on the south side of the school house, he said, next to the road.

It was a great place to play mumble peg (a knife-tossing game), marbles or spinning tops, he said.

“The girls usually played Jacks on the sidewalk near the schoolhouse,” he said. “Don't tell the teacher, but sometimes we played marbles for keeps or traded pocket knives — sight unseen.”

End of school

The greatest picnics ever, Lanier said, were high expectations for the whole community.

“All adults — with or without students — would turn out with baskets of food to help us celebrate the last day of school,” he said.

Barrels and boards were brought to display all the foods and desserts — and desserts and desserts — imaginable, he said.

“During the setup and gathering, many of us students chased each other through the wooded area and would run by the tables to grab cookies or whatever we could get away with,” he said.

The woods and shaded area for the picnic were across the road just south from the school.

It was an annual whoop-de-do, he said.

“Oh, yes, I remember the two-room school — which is now becoming a full-blown Pre-K to 12th-grade,” Lanier said. “Congratulations students and bless you parents and taxpayers.”