School Days, School Daze

By now, with all that’s going on again about masks and the Covid variant, you may be ready to spell it “daze” instead of “days”!
Everything around here is going well, I’ve had my air conditioner fixed, next is my spare refrigerator, and then hopefully things will be to whatever we’re allowed to call normal. The A/C didn’t take too long, there was a mud dobber nest on the fan blade and it wouldn’t turn, so that was simple, I’m so happy I didn’t have to replace it yet again!
The words to an old song go: “School days, school days, dear old golden rule days”, reading, and writing and ‘rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick”. Those were the tough days of school for both student and teacher. Corporal punishment was the rule of the day, and if you were punished at school, you received an equal or worse punishment at home.
The teacher was usually a man, as it was thought they had better control over a class. If a young lady taught (one of the very few jobs a young woman was allowed to do at the time), she had to be single, her contract stated she could not go out on dates, and she usually had to live in the home of one of the school board members. Her deportment and dress had to be above reproach at all times. Hopefully, she was lucky and got to live with a member who was good to her and didn’t expect her to live in an attic with no heat in the winter and treated her as one of the family rather than treating her as an indentured servant or a slave.
She usually taught in a one room school house and she was in charge of keeping the building clean, water had to be hauled from a well in a bucket and it stood in a corner of the classroom, with one drinking cup or ladle for all the children to use. In winter, she had to be there early enough to build a fire, so that when the students arrived, it would be warm enough to start classes on time. The restroom was an outhouse and I guarantee it wasn’t heated, and probably was equipped with an old Sears® catalogue for wiping purposes. How many boys of that generation learned what women’s underwear looked like from those catalogues? Think about it!
Most of the children either walked or rode horseback to get to school. During crop harvesting time, many of the students were not always in class, as they had to help with the crops. Anytime there was sickness at home, the oldest girl in the family would not be able to attend school because she would be helping her mother take of the child, parent or grandparent, who was sick.
Lunches were carried in tin buckets with lids, which had originally contained lard (shortening). There were no thermos bottles to keep milk cold from the time the children left home, usually before daylight to walk or ride to school. There were no boxes of juice and no little Bento boxes containing treats and something other than two pieces of bread with some ham or something in them. Cookies were always homemade, as was the cake or pie that might be included in the lunch. If students were lucky, they had leftovers from the previous meal, which were eaten at room temperature. Homemade biscuits, bread, cheese, sausage or boiled eggs were common lunches, as was a big chunk of cornbread. Sometimes the sandwiches were simply bread and butter. There were no hot lunch programs in those days, and mama always made everyone eat a good breakfast; in most families that meant bacon (home cured), ham or sausage with eggs, and either homemade bread or biscuits and sometimes grits and gravy, or biscuits and gravy.
Almost all children come in from school wanting a snack, and what could be better than cookies and milk, especially, Peanut butter cookies?
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Beat together shortening, sugars and peanut butter until creamy, then beat in the eggs until very well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon until well blended. Roll into small balls, place on a cookie sheet; dip a fork into flour and flatten the rolls in a cross-cross pattern. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, remove to a rack to cool completely.
The following Peanut Butter Squares are really delicious, they’re just a little more work!
Peanut Butter Squares
½ cup sugar’
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
(smooth is OK if you prefer it)
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal (quick cooking, not instant)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips, (optional)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, thoroughly cream together the sugars, butter, egg and peanut butter. Stir in the dry ingredients, (including chocolate chips if used) until well blended; pour and spread into a lightly greased or sprayed 9 X 13 baking pan and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack.
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons Hershey’s®
In a medium sized bowl, mix the sugar, peanut butter and 2 Tablespoons milk; additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time until of spreading consistency. Remove 1/3 cup of frosting and set aside. Stir cocoa and 1 Tablespoon of milk into remaining frosting; mix well and spread on cooled cookies. Drop reserved peanut butter frosting on top of the chocolate frosting and swirl to make marbleized effect.