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|My deepest sympathy for your loss. Mrs. Toth was a kind and caring person.
I thought you would enjoy these comments she made at our Hamilton Elementary School reunion in 2003.
When Janet asked me to do this I wasn’t sure I could remember enough to fill the time. After all it’s been 44 years!! I’m going to start at the beginning! We had come to my grandfather’s farm with great expectations. Things were pretty much as we expected except that we were always short on money. We decided that we could make it if I could substitute teach a few days each month. I’d been to college & had some education courses. How hard could it be to step into someone else’s shoes a day or two at a time?
Well, I got my sub certificate & contacted Mr. Barnes, the county supt. A few days later he called & said he had a full time job for me. I explained that I only had a sub certificate and he said not to worry – that I’d be fine. He was more sure than I was! The last time I’d been in an elementary school was when I had been a student. My elementary school had been a big city school in Dayton. We had at least 2 full classes of each grade. My school had a library, cafeteria, big gymnasium, music room, art room, & a large auditorium. That was my grade school experience. Next stop – Hamilton School!!
It was quite a shock! Three grades in one room – how could you do that? Bigger shock – not nearly enough books to go around. And then- the biggest shock of all – Hamilton School Board had no money for paychecks. Money would come from the state eventually, and so I had to go to the bank and borrow against that money. Worst of all, we had to pay interest on that borrowed money. No wonder they needed a teacher! Everything looked pretty bleak and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.
BUT THEN –
Good things began happening. My kids came to my rescue. They knew how far they’d gone in their books. They knew how to share those few books & how to help each other. My 5th graders helped the younger ones and we soon had our act together. Teaching 3 grades was tricky. Math, Reading, Spelling & English had to be at grade level, but I figured out that we could do health, science and geography all together.
Now remember, this was 44 years ago. Many of us were poor; some of us were very poor. I saw what kids were bringing for lunch & I was concerned about their health. I decided to do a unit on nutrition and began by going around the room asking each one what he or she had for breakfast. Some had had no breakfast, a couple had had a cup of coffee, and it began to sound pretty grim ‘til I got to Sonny Russ. Sonny said “Well, I had O.J., a bowl of cereal, and bacon and egg and toast and a glass of milk. And then I took my vitamin. Was that a good ‘nuff breakfast?” I had to laugh – couldn’t believe a little boy could hold that much but I’ve seen Sonny as a grown-up and I’ll bet he still eats like that (Maybe even more).
I began meeting parents and grandparents early on (I expect people were curious about me). Some people remembered my Grandparents and my Mother. Albert Schwartz told me he used to date my mother. Albert was one of our bus drivers along with Bill Flaker. Nearly all of the parents and grandparents were very supportive of me and of the school. When we had meetings, conferences, parties or picnics there was always a huge turnout. The Hamilton mothers were great cooks, and I am glad to see that tradition is being carried on.
Since books were in such short supply I began bringing in books from the Jackson library. The kids were fascinated by so many books. When I told them about the library and that there were hundreds and hundreds of books there, Roger Kuhn said “Now Mrs. Toth, you know there ain’t that many books in the whole world”.
I remember that on nice days we went to the woods or the creek for science classes. We took library books and learned about the plants and the bugs and the crawdads and tadpoles and anything else we could find.
I have lots of memories of winter at Hamilton school. For starts, hardly anyone ever asked to go to the restroom. Wonder why that was? Remember how cold it was out there??
Anyway – Mrs. Zornes would come early in the morning to fire up the stoves. It was up to us teachers to keep them going for the rest of the day. It was time consuming but not a real problem unless there was snow. On snowy days everyone went out to play. That meant wet gloves & mittens, wet scarves & hats, & wet socks and shoes for those who didn’t have boots. When recess was over, we’d hang the coats as close to the stove as possible and all the rest of that stuff went on the stove to dry. My job was to get things dry but not burned. It was like a giant barbecue but I’m here to tell you the smell in no way resembled a barbecue. How many of you can remember the smell of steaming wool?
I remember Mr. Jones would let the big kids build snow forts at noon. Then later the rest of us were included in a big snowball fight. Sides were chosen with equal numbers of big and little kids. No one was left out. I don’t remember anyone getting hurt. It was just great fun and worth the wet smelly clothes that followed.
Times have sure changed haven’t they? Nowadays little children are never allowed on the playground (or anywhere else) with the older ones. At Hamilton our big kids set a good example for the little ones. They were kind and loving and dependable. They had a sense of fair play and taught that to the little ones.
I don’t mean to imply that you kids were perfect. I remember that Dr. Allison was coming with Aunt Kate – what was her last name? She was Margaret Potts’ sister and was our county health nurse. Anyway, they were going to do eye tests. Somebody thought it was pretty cool to tell the little ones they’d take their eyeballs out to examine them. Absolute Panic!! They were also afraid of shots. Earlier our four year old John had been sick and had to get a shot from Doc Allison. We told him it was gonna hurt real bad, but then he’d get better. Well, I don’t know what “real bad” meant to Johnny, but when he got the shot it was nothing compared to what he thought it would be. There were no tears! So- when Doc came to Hamilton he asked me to bring Johnny. He made a big show in front of the first and second graders, giving the first shot to the 4 year old who didn’t cry. No one else wanted to be a baby, so it made the job a lot easier for Doc and Katherine.
When spring time came softball was KING. The county grade schools each had a team and would go by bus to the other schools, or they would come to ours. This meant that many late afternoons were spent at ball practice. I remember bribing my kids to get their lessons done in a hurry so we could go out and watch. Sometimes were even allowed to go the games. I remember bus trips to Scioto and Franklin schools which was quite an adventure for my little kids and for me, too (I’d never been on a school bus before).
The end of the school year brings two distinct memories to mind. The first could have turned into a nightmare. Mr. Jones bro’t me a thing called the “big book”. It was a ledger, and all records for each child had to be recorded. Every single day had to be accounted for and all the absences, tardies, and days present had to add up to the days required by the state. Remember – this was before calculators! I was aghast!! But then he said I didn’t have to do it because he had an eighth grader who was a whiz at this sort of thing and she’d do it for me. That eighth grader was Janet Parks, and she did it beautifully. I was so grateful, but not grateful enough. Years later when I had to do it for myself I realized just how awful it really was. Janet, you were a life saver, and I want to thank you publicly!!
The other end of the year memory was the last day of school picnic. What a turnout and what a feast!! We had eighth grade graduation a few nights before with a pretty good meal, but this picnic was to die for!! Everyone came – Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, Parents and Babies. What a celebration. Grown-ups and Kids all played softball together. The littlest ones were running all over the place having fun. We were like a big happy family, and I was included. What happiness!!
My second year at Hamilton was pretty much a re-run except that I knew I wasn’t going to last. I was pregnant and back then you weren’t allowed to teach school if you were pregnant. I kept it a secret as long as I could but had to leave in the middle of the year. There were enough tears that I was pretty sure I never wanted to teach again. The end was too painful.
Ten years later the pain was gone abut the good memories were still with me. I began teaching again at Coalton School. Went back to college, got my degree in Elementary Education and kept at it ‘til I retired with 30 years experience. It was a great life and it all began at Hamilton
There is a PS to this story. I don’t remember the year, but the time came when we got notification that were going to be audited by the IRS. Now that’s a scary feeling. We got all our stuff together for the big day and prayed we’d done everything right. To make a long story short – the IRS agent was Kermit Cochran. My 4th grader – Kermit Cochran!!! After it was all said and done, the government owed us money back and paid it back with interest. My husband says that would have happened anyway – no matter who the agent was; but I’m still saying Hooray for Hamilton School.
|From: Sharon (Vititoe) Spohn 12/30/2011 07:12 AM|
|To John and the entire Toth Family,
My Deepest and heart-felt sympathies to all of you in the recent death of Maxine she was a true sweetheart. I always liked it when Homer(I was married to Homer L. Scurlock, Sr.til he died 7 yeats ago I was his wife that came with him,we always brought our children Theresa and Charlie)and I would come visit you guys and you both always made me feel very welcome. May God comfort each and everyone of you in your time of sorrow for God took such a beautiful Angel,please accept our deepest condolences and please know that she is with Our Lord and Savior where all the Angels and our departed loved dwell on Heaven's High, again my deepest heart-felt sympathies to all of you.
Pauline A. Fischer
|From: Pauline A. Fischer 12/24/2011 11:59 AM|
|We came to know and love Maxine during our sojourn in Jackson County from 2002 to 2007. We appreciated her faith and her zest for life. Her e-mails were a part of our lives after we moved north to Wayne County. To her family and friends we say remember the promise of our Lord Jesus: "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."|
|From: Jim and Cinda Eaton 12/23/2011 04:06 PM|