Memories of Pleasant Ridge
By Viola Good
Pleasant Ridge! I've always loved the name and pleasant are its memories to me.
My father, George Story, a college man, was on the school board until the School Division was organized. Under his leadership, the people by voluntary labor had a school in 1904. The men drove seventy miles to Wetaskiwin with horses to haul the lumber. It was just another trip for them as this was where we got all our groceries, clothing and other needs. Some of the farmers including my father, had to go this distance with oxen as many horses died of swamp fever
As the schoolhouse was used for church services I was quite familiar with it when I started school, as I knew the lady. Lottie Brisbin, who played the organ, would be my teacher. I knew many words by sight and wanted to learn to read. My mother had covered the walls of the attic where four of us children slept with brown wrapping paper and many copies of the "Camrose Canadian" to keep out draughts. We kept pestering our mother to tell us "this word" and "that word". "Lumber" was a word always coming up and I even learned how to spell it. At that time it must have been an important commodity.
But I dreaded going to school! Mother was away in a private hospital as there were no municipal hospitals at that time- We had a Mrs. King as housekeeper and we didn't like her. For every misdemeanor she would threaten to send me to school. 1 thought I must be a very bad girl as Clarence and Hattie were already in school and hadn't got into any trouble. To add to my fear, our big cousins Wilbur and Ellsworth, who stopped by on their way from school, would threaten to throw four year old Lester into the rain barrel. They told me that when I went to school I'd better be good or else the teacher would shove me up into the attic, which was occupied by bugs, bats, mice and other horrors. I believed it all. However, when I was six I had to go to school in spite of my tears.
I walked one mile with Clarence and Hattie. We put our coats and bonnets on hooks in the cloakroom. One side was for the girls and the other side for the boys. Hattie and I put ours on the girls' side. Here we put our lard pails in which we carried our lunches.
Mother told me I must sit near the front because I was hard of hearing. When I was three a siege of measles had left me with a perforated eardrum. Hattie and I chose our seats and put our slates inside the homemade double desk. There was a groove on our desk into which our pencils just fitted. We had a slate cloth and a salt shaker with water to use in cleaning our slates. Some of the slates were bound with red felt, which pleased the teacher, as they were less noisy. The teacher's desk, also homemade, stood on a raised platform. On the walls were bracket coal oil lamps used for evening gatherings in the school.
On the table were two bells, one hand bell which the teacher used to call us in from play, and the other a little bell which she tapped, usually three times to get our attention. Then she would say, "Less noise, children, less noise."
The girls wore cotton dresses, black stockings, and under their dresses bloomers sometimes made from flour sacks. The older girls wore pinafores. Hair was long and braided in "pigtails", tied with ribbons. These long braids were a great temptation to the boys. They would quietly tie two girls' braids together just before recess dismissal. When the two girls stood up at the teacher's call, they would pull each other's hair and the boys would laugh. Another trick was to dip the braids in the inkwells.
Boys didn't dress up much; usually they wore farm overalls and farm boots. Sometimes they went barefoot.
Miss Lottie Brisbin, our teacher was from Ontario. I tried very hard to be good remembering the attic story. When the room became hot she would push the attic door to one side with the broom handle. I watched to see who would be put up there, but as this happened many times and no one was put up there, I breathed with relief The boys had been fooling me! Now I could be happy in school!
What a joy was the school library, many books contained in the bookcases made up of sectional pieces. I don't know how we came to have such a collection of good books but think it must have been by donations by interested people. I have wanted to get some of those books since but have not been able to find them even in second hand stores. Some of my favorites were Aunt Martha's Corner Cupboard, which took us around the world, Wretched Flea, The Story of a Chinese Boy, and Goody Two Shoes. There were two volumes of Golden Oak Books which 1 enjoyed.
My first reader was an Ontario Reader. They were used until the Alexandra Readers came in. I didn't wait for the day by day reading lesson. I read my reader through as soon as it was given to me. All our readers were free and were ours to keep. Later we had Primer and Books Ito IV in the Alexandra Readers. We did not have grades but were divided into standards from one to five. We did a lot of memory work and most of it I remember to this day.
Alberta became a province in 1905. I remember the map of Canada as it hung on the wall of our school. Our province was smaller and Manitoba was 164 just a postage stamp- Pictures of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were on the other side of the blackboard and over all was the Union Jack.
Miss Brisbin played the organ for half an hour of singing every day. We used the Canadian Hymnal books left on the organ from the church services. I have one of them today. We were very patriotic and never missed The Maple Leaf Forever and God Save the King.
On Friday afternoons our teacher varied the school program with singing, recitations, readings and sometimes riddles from the pupils. There might even be a short play.
Our schools were not so closely supervised as they are today. We were expected to behave even if the teacher wasn't Mound. She usually went home for lunch and left us on our own. We left the school-grounds and went wading in the nearby sloughs if someone suggested it. In the winter we would slide on the ice as no one had skates. If the boys got into a fight the teacher would let them fight it out and they would be friends the next day. But Miss Brisbin was firm about bad language. Woe betide anyone who used profanity or foul language! Then the strap in her desk came out and she knew how to use it. She was strict but she was just and we respected her.
One method of raising money for the treats and presents was the basket social. Every woman and girl had a basket of food to tempt the appetite of her supper companion. There was no name on the beautifully decorated basket as no man was to know whose basket he was bidding on. The name would be inside the basket. When they were auctioned off they went to the highest bidder. There was much competition among the young men as they were sometimes very sure they would eat with their chosen girl but were often bitterly disappointed.
When I was only seven I had a basket, which went to Miss Brisbin's steady young man. I'm sure he was disappointed to have to share with a little girl instead of his Lottie. But he was very kind to me and I was very shy.
Our teacher's young man owned land next to the school with a house near One day as I was being chased in some wild game, 1 ran into the barb wire fence which separated his land from the school land. It hit me hard right in the face and blood streamed into my eyes and down my face blinding me. I ran about crying. Soon I felt strong arms enfolding me as I was carried into Albert Stewart's house. He washed the blood from my face and soothed my wounded spirit.
Miss Brisbin taught several years in Pleasant Ridge and then married Albert Stewart. We collected money and gave her a very special lamp with a flowered shade. After her marriage we had a city girl, Miss Crow, who stayed for one term only. A Miss Gerry followed her.
The time came when Pleasant Ridge was no more. A town by the name of Holden had sprung up and a new two roomed brick school was built. I then went to Holden (as it is called now) Junior High School.
The Pleasant Ridge schoolhouse was sold for a dwelling. It had served a purpose. It had given a generation of boys and girls a wonderful background of learning and character building.
Generated by GenDesigner 2.0 BETA UNREGISTERED