Cardin School Memories—1951-1956
This is a story by Cardin Kids, about Cardin Kids
Long, long ago, when Packards, Hudsons, Studebakers, Nashes and Kaiser-Frasiers still roamed the country, Highway 69 was a main North-South artery. In Cardin, there is a very sharp curve that changes that highway from north-south to east-west. One block east and one block south (or one block south and one block east) of that curve stands what is left of the Cardin Grade School. Built in the late (19) teens or early twenties, it is safely removed from, but easily accessed by the highway. It used to be a much grander, two story rectangular building, with many windows on the north and south walls. The east and west walls were solid, with the fire escape on the east, accessible from the sixth grade classroom. The building was divided by a wide hallway running down the middle from north to south on both floors. The main entry was from the north, with the stairs on the south end. Downstairs on the east side was first and second grade classrooms, with the cafeteria and maintenance on the west side. Upstairs was four equal sized classrooms, third and fourth on the west side, with fifth and sixth on the east. Heat was from a boiler that was either coal or natural gas fired, with radiators in the rooms. Air conditioning was, of course, non existent. All those windows opened, though, and had no screens. Sometime, probably in the late forties, an auditorium was added to the west side of the building. That was the scene of our famous Christmas pageants, consisting of, but not limited to, our outstanding “stick” bands, fantastic renditions of carols by our chorus, and THE CHRISTMAS PLAY! I remember playing the sticks, do you? Every grade took part in the pageant. I vaguely remember being a wise man one year, and I have pictorial proof that Tom Richardson, Bill Parkinson, Leon Sooter, Clay Allen and I were reindeers one year, complete with homemade antlers! Tom has a picture of kids dressed as candy canes one year. We were also taught to square dance, which I have mercifully forgotten. (Karen Foster/Craig remembers that we went to the IOOF Hall in Picher and put on a show. I just bet it was a show!!) The auditorium was also the audio-visual room, with very rare films.
Our first grade teacher was Mrs. Colvard and she had the candy concession for the school in her cloak room. She also made us wear shoes to school. On the last day of school each year, we were allowed to come to school barefoot. Second grade was Mrs. McGehee, who, along with my mother, got me through the second grade. I was still in the hospital with Polio when school started, so mom got my assignments from Mrs. McGehee, and I studied from Tulsa. I missed the first nine weeks, but didn’t get held back. Carolyn Green/Garner did most of the second grade in California, ( but couldn’t stay away from the chat piles). Third was Mrs. Adams, fourth was Mrs. Irwin, (Jana and Larry’s mom) and fifth was C. H. Kerr, who went to sixth grade with our class and to the new school with us. Karen missed the sixth with Rheumatic Fever, but studied from home, and advanced with the rest of us. C.H. was also our bus driver after the new school opened.
The front schoolyard was grades 1-2-3 playground, with the big swings that Tom fell off of and broke his arm, the teeter totters, monkey bars, slide, and merry-go-round. The school grounds went all the way to the highway out front, but I don’t remember going out past the restrooms much. That might have been our limit. Oh yes! Out front were the restrooms. They did have running water, and flushable stools, but they usually froze in the winter. Outdoor restrooms were no big deal to us, because few families in Cardin had indoor plumbing in those days. I remember a highway patrolman named Bert George was often parked out front at lunch time. (Cardin, of course, had no police, leading to some mischief from time to time which seldom went un-punished. Every parent in town watched out for the kids, unlike today. Very few people in town locked their doors. Just try getting by with that today!) The back schoolyard was for grades 4-5-6. There was almost no grass back there, but plenty of chat and cinders. There was a backstop for playing base(soft)ball, a hoop for shooting basketball, and that was about it, as far as I remember. If we could get in a time machine and go back to watch some of those “Baseball” games, we would laugh our butts off. The “equipment” was a hodgepodge of gloves, bats, and none. We also had no coach and rarely anyone old enough to know any rules. After a busted lip and two broken teeth, I didn’t try so hard ( in public ) to catch the ball. We played with both softball and baseball bats and gloves, no gloves, and an X in the dirt for bases. Tom remembers walking to Mineral Heights to play softball games. I remember going over there for band. If you have seen a ball game on “Spanky and Our Gang”, you know how we looked. Out back is where all the serious marble games took place, as well as some ferocious “Red Rover” contests. I just found out that Karen (Foster) Craig's father, Carthel, didn’t want his girls to play marbles with us boys. Therefore, (this makes perfect sense if you knew Karen) she hid her marbles by burying them in a hole in the yard and scrubbing her knuckles and nails to hide the evidence. He caught her anyway, but getting caught was normal for us kids. Pat (Crawford) Kerley won’t let us forget that she was the town marble champ. Her dad also was against her playing marbles with the boys, so she hid her marbles in an oatmeal can, buried in the yard. At the southeast corner of the school ground was a small chat pile that was the town playground, but was “off limits” during school hours.
There were several houses in town that couldn’t seem to keep permanent residents. The house right beside the school on the east side was one such house. I remember some people named DeGraff living there. When we were in the fifth or sixth grade the Lowerys moved there. (Shelia, Wanda, John) They had a T.V. When we were in the sixth grade, and the World Series came on, we were invited, and allowed, to watch “The Mick” on T.V. at their house. Mickey Mantle was Tom Richardson’s cousin. To this day, Tom won’t eat Wheaties, because of all the free cereal Mick supplied the family with. Oh yea, and he also regrets putting all those baseball cards in the spokes of his bicycle.
Across the street from that house is where Clay Allen’s grandma lived. Her house still stands today. She was the custodian as well as the crossing guard at the school. She had a little man on wheels holding a stop sign that she would roll out in the middle of the highway. She also had cherry trees in her back yard, and when the fruit was ripe, she was always chasing us kids away..
We were so insulated from the real world, it’s hard to believe. There were very few T.V.s in town, not a lot of phones even. There was no color TV no CNN, no internet, and no one had even thought about a home computer. It wasn’t anything like today’s “hurry up” world. I’m glad to have been a part of that time, and wish my daughter could have witnessed it. Not to have lived it, just witnessed it.
Several ex Cardin kids
have contributed to this story.
It’s a shame there are so few of us on the internet!