R: Mrs. Phelps, what year did you start school?
P: I went in 1928 and 29. We went a little school out there, up in Okawoods. But
no, I had no school[ing] before that.
R: You're trying to remember the year you started at Ogden.
P: Oh, I started school up there in 29. That's when I started going to
school up there, in 29.
R: What grade were you in then? How old were you? Maybe that will help
you to get the grade.
P: I have to count backwards.
R: If you started up there in 29, and you were born in?
R: So you were twelve.
R: Because in 27 you would have been ten.
P: But I had been to school down south, so I must been in the fourth or fifth grade.
R: So you were in the fourth or fifth grade. And what year did you stop school at
Ogden? You think you started in 29.
P: I went there the whole time.
P: I stopped going there in 29. I went to that school [for] a year.
R: So you just went one year.
P: Yeah. One year, my grandma moved up there.
R: So what was the last grade that you finished at Ogden?
P: It would have to be the fourth or the fifth grade.
R: Whichever one you started in, you finished that grade.
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R: What month did school open?
P: They were always open in wintertime. Because we would go to school,
November, no. It had be to December, January and February. We didn't go but
three months, because [during those] months there was no work to be done.
R: So you think it was December that it opened?
P: It must have been December.
R: Then it closed three months later. January, February, March. Closed in March.
P: That's when people started the planting.
R: So you just went three months, from December to March. Okay. What time of
day did school open?
P: They opened in the morning. I would say about eight o'clock. But they were going
by the old time then. They'll turn out by three.
R: Turn out by three, open about eight? How did you get to school?
R: How far did you have to walk?
P: [Laughter] From the Pinkerson Place all the way up there. I don't know how many
miles that was.
R: You don't know if it was three or four or five miles?
P: Oh, it was more than five miles. From Pinkerson, down there by where M. L. and
them stayed down there. It was more than five miles.
R: Okay. Who was your teacher?
P: Ms. Maude Lewis.
R: Ms. Maude Lewis. She was the only teacher there?
P: She was the only teacher.
R: So the next question is who was the principal or the head teacher? If she was the
only one, then she was all of them.
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P: All of them.
R: How many students were in your class?
P: Let me see. There was me, and Eula Bell, and McKinley. I think McKinley was in
our class. McKinley Lewis, I believe he was in our class. And who else now?
R: I guess I'm just [wondering], how many students, period, were in the school?
Was there more than one class?
P: Oh, yeah. Because she had to teach from ... back then, one teacher had [from]
what we used to call first grade [on], she started teaching the ABC's, and go
through the sixth-graders. And that one person had to do all of that. She started
out with the young children and started us off with, well, they didn't call it math
then, they called it arithmetic. We started with arithmetic, and she'd start with the
second grade on up to the sixth, and everybody [did] arithmetic. Then she'd go
back and get everybody [to start] reading. And then she'll go back and start
everybody studying. Back then they had something called 'Hygiene.' And they
had a history book. And she'd start and all [of] us had to take that. And we had a
little [book on] geography. And it was about that thick. And I remember that,
that's where I learned about little Wiitchie. Little Jim Witchie [laughter]. And all of
R: So from the first through the sixth grade, about how many students do you think
were in the school that she was teaching?
P: There had to be about twenty-five or thirty or more.
R: Is that right?
R: How many rooms was that school?
R: One room. So all of you were in that room.
P: All of us were in that one room.
R: Was it noisy?
P: No. They knew not to be noisy. Because when she rang that bell, and you went
in there, you knew to sit down and be quiet.
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R: How was the school heated?
P: With a wood heater.
R: And what about cooling?
P: [We] opened the windows. Opened the windows and the doors. That's the kind of
air [conditioning] we had.
R: Where did you eat lunch?
P: Well, lunchtime we'd go outside and eat lunch.
R: Did they have tables and benches and things for you to sit on out there?
P: No, we'd just go out there and have lunch.
R: So you just sat on the ground or you stood up?
P: No, we hardly sat much, because we would get to playing.
R: So lunchtime became playtime?
R: How long was that? How long did you have for lunch period?
P: Well, [we would start] about twelve, and she'll take [us] back into school by
twelve-thirty. And on Fridays, we could be out a little longer. She would turn us
out on Fridays at twelve and we'd go back in at one, because they'd give us a
little break on Friday.
R: Did they prepare any food at school? Did you cook anything?
P: No. We didn't have [anything] to cook with. Everybody had to bring their lunch.
R: Bring your bag lunch.
P: Uh-huh. Ms. Maude had to bring her lunch, too.
R: What kind of outside activities did you all participate in?
P: Oh, we had ring plays, and hide-and-go-seek, and jumping rope. Anything like
that, that's what we had.
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R: Any kind of ball?
P: Oh, no, we didn't play [any] ball.
R: No basketball or baseball?
P: No, nothing like that. We would just play ring plays and sometimes we called it
Merry-Go-Round--how did that go? Go around the wall, something like that.
R: But they were all ring plays. How long did you have to do that when you were
outside playing ring plays or recess? Was it called recess?
R: How long was that?
P: Now, recess. I think recess wasn't as long as the lunchtime. Recess might have
been fifteen or twenty minutes. Something like that. So you could go out if you
had to go to the bathroom.
R: When you were playing those ring plays and all, how long was that?
P: We took as long as we wanted. If we wanted to play until it was time to go back
in, then we'd just play until it was time to go back in.
R: [The] next questions are about the outhouses. What kind did the school have?
P: Outdoor toilets.
R: And where was it? Was there more than one?
P: Uh-huh. We had one for the girls, and one for the boys.
R: And where were they in relation to the school?
P: It was out behind the school.
R: What about textbooks? Can you remember the names of some of them and the
condition that they were in?
P: They started out with Baby Ray. Geography was using the globe. That wasn't the
name of it. Because we had something about Little Jim Witchie. [The] history
book-did we have history then? No, we didn't have history then.
R: What about reading and spelling?
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P: We had spelling books, because they had some green spelling books. I can't
remember the name of them all, I know we had green spelling books. And we
had reading, spelling, geography, and arithmetic. They had a separate book for
all of them. But the kinds of books we had then, the books they were giving us is
what the white folks had [already] used, and we had to use them.
R: So were some of the pages torn out? Was the back torn off?
P: Some of them were in pretty good condition, some of them wouldn't [be]. But
that's what we had to use.
R: What kind of school closing activities were held at the end of the year? What did
they have at the end?
P: At the end of the year, they had some kind of play or something. People [would]
come out, maybe do a little speaking or something like that. Closing the school,
and then we were out.
R: What about the children that were in the sixth grade that were going to go on to
another school? Did they have some kind of graduation exercise?
P: No, they didn't have any graduation exercises. They just finished school, they
finished sixth grade and they'd go down there to ACT.
R: So you don't remember getting a certificate or anything that they had to finish this
P: I don't know what they did.
R: Because you didn't finish from there, that's right, you were [in] fourth or fifth
grade [when you left]. Okay, what is the most memorable event that happened to
you in Ogden? Something that you remember the most that happened to you
while you were going to school there.
P: Well, children back then, we didn't go out there and try to fight or anything.
R: So there were no fights?
P: No, no. We just went out there, and all of us [would] go out there and get to
playing, and get along like family. [Laughter]
R: So it sounds like you enjoyed Ogden.
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R: What did you think about the education that you got there?
P: It was good. Ms. Maude was a good teacher.
R: [Off the record, and I'll leave this, my daddy always wanted her to teach us.
Because he said Ms. Maude teach you--she taught him--he said Ms. Maude
teach you, you're gonna know it good].
P: That's right.
R: He wanted us to be in her classes.
P: You [were] going to learn when she taught you, you were going to learn.
R: So you think your education that you got there was as good as any at any other
school at that time?
R: And what about your parents? How did they view education? Or your
P: Well, my grandmother [viewed it as positive].
R: They supported the teachers...
R: And whatever was going on, they participated or came out.
P: See, we didn't have things that they do now. We had no time for school at night.
We had to have lamplights, and so we never had school at night.
R: So that school-closing play was during the day?
P: Yes, everything was [held] during the day.
R: What sort of values did you see your teachers embody? That means what kind of
things were the teachers concerned about, or wanted to make sure that they
passed on to the students? Other than an education, I guess.
P: She would see that you would do what you were supposed to do before [passing]
R: So education. Okay, anything else you want to say about Ogden and your year
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that you spent there? You were there just one term, which wasn't really a year, it
was three months.
P: I enjoyed it while we were there, at that time I enjoyed it. Because it was in 29
when I went up there.
R: So you were there in school [in] 1929. And you think you were either in the fourth
or fifth grade.
R: And you were twelve years old, because you were born in 1917. Thank you for
[letting me] take up your time.
P: Thank you.
[End of Interview.]