Deb VE foto 1

Deb Van Engelenhoven

My thoughts about the country schools around our county has drawn interest and sharing of stories about many of the country school teachers. Several feature articles have been shared through the pages of the Herald.

One of the letters I received was from one of my dearest friends in this community, Rex McFall. He wrote a letter about his memories at Union #3 school and about a very special teacher there.

I wanted to share his letter with you:

“Oskaloosa Herald:

I am writing this letter in memory of Lauralee Staley, my seventh and eighth grade teacher at the one room country school named Union #3, located southwest of Beacon, and a few miles from the town of Given, as well as one mile from the Gatley Bridge on the Des Moines River, and close to the Henness Cemetery.

The one room school had a coal burning stove in the back of the room. As one of the older boys I was privileged to carry in the coal in a coal bucket and carry out the ashes.

There was a cloak room in the front of the school where the students hung their winter coats. It also had a large crock jar with a spigot on it and we would fill our own tin cups to drink from.

There were two small buildings out in the back, one for girls and one for the boys. There was one time some of the boys tied a rope around the girls building while some were in it. I sure don’t remember now who those boys were.

Mrs. Staley had a 1938 Packard car which seemed as long as the school house. We farm boys thought that she was really rich.

She was a great teacher, she not only taught us reading, writing and arithmetic but taught us how to be good people, with fundamental values and a good sense of humor.

She always said the Union #3 was the best school that she had ever taught because all of you were poor and no one was better than the other. I visited her in later years and she always told me that.

Well, we students learned a lot about life from this wonderful teacher and she will always be special in our hearts.

Rex W. McFall”

I think that there could be no better gift to a teacher than to be remembered by a child that she taught. It seems to me that this teacher must have been very special to be remembered so fondly by my friend.