THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Tales from the old-timer
Issue Date: February 14, 2013
School Days - Peshtigo
We moved from Kingsford, MI to Peshtigo in the fall of 1932 and I started 2nd grade in the old East Side School. The building still stands on Pine Street on the east side of town. They had double seats in the combination 1st and 2nd grade room presided over by Miss Moran, who was kept busy spanking the boys on the back of their hands for various kinds of unruly behaviors. Back in Kingsford, we played marbles as we walked to school. One kid would send his glassy ahead and the other boy would try to hit it. If he did, he won the marble of his opponent. In Peshtigo they had a different kind of game. They dug a potsy by twisting their heels in the ground, and you shot for the potsy, and won the opponents glassy that way.
At recess, we took to the merry go round or the swings, and boys and girls naturally separated to pass the time. Going to the nearby log piles of the pulp mill was forbidden, and third grade teacher Miss Clara Anderson organized the East Side Safety Club. Only girls belonged to the club and their job was to squeal on boys who broke the safety rules and climbed on the log piles or did other forbidden things. The toilets were the old-fashioned outhouses, one for the girls and one for the boys.
Miss Anderson ran a tight ship in 3rd grade, and did it without using a ruler, using only her sharp reprimands to keep order.
The 4th grade was on the west side of the city near Zion Lutheran Church. The playground was a wild scene, and one time Snort Dupuis and Cub Couvillion were running full speed in opposite directions and collided head-on at one corner, knocking chips out of Cubbys front teeth. It was several years before Cubs folks were able to afford dental repairs back in those Depression years.
The teacher was a much loved Mae Murphy. One time a kid named Bobby Jopek seized the bell ringing rope and the big bell gonged forth. Miss Murphy came running and yelled, Who did that! and Jopek pointed to me. Miss Murphy grabbed me by the hair and marched me to my seat, yanking me back and forth all the way! That bell was never to ring, as it was too loud for the neighbors to tolerate.
A little guy named Bud Weinke used to catapult himself head-first against me on the playground, and I had to detach him from my chest forcefully. He finally quit his human battering ram tactics. After we moved to 5th grade in the old high school building, a group of us boys went back to see Miss Murphy on the first school day the next fall, as we had come to love and admire that lady. She married the local barber, Ray Thibodeau, and they went to live somewhere else.