Kit Carson School 


Kit Carson School 

Hi, Steve,

Kit Carson School was (the building was still there 10 years ago, or so, when I was back in the area, in use as a day care center) about a mile over a hill from Ballard Baptist Church. My cousin and I walked that road every school day, except one day there was about a foot of snow on the ground Daddy drove us. I attended the school in the 1933, 1934 and 1935 school years. It is a sturdy brick building, two rooms divided by folding doors, a small library-teachers room, and a path. The privy was located some distance behind the school building, and necessary trips during class time were signaled by the time-honored method of holding up one finger or two, depending on the reason for the trip. Heat was provided by two pot-bellied stoves. I'm sorry I don't remember whether they were fueled by wood or coal, though I think it was probably coal. Water came from a hand pump in the schoolyard, which had been ingeniously modified by a pipe with perforations extended over a trough. Thus one person could pump and several could drink at the same time. Though I lived most of my childhood in areas not served by electricity, this was the only pump so modified that I saw. The others had only the metal trough where you could hang a bucket, or block the end with your free hand to get a drink directly.

There was a piano in the library room, and for a short period of time someone from the community came in after school to teach music to private students. My cousin and I were privileged to "take" from this teacher, though the lessons were expensive: $1 each. Instructional material was from church hymnals. Lesson 1 began with the children's hymn that begins "I am so glad that our Father in Heaven tells of his love in the book he has given", because about half of the melody consisted of the same chord. The student quickly mastered an entire hymn by learning only a few more chords.

Four-H groups also met in the library. I learned to hem dish towels made from flour sacks, to make a flannel roll for testing the germination of seed beans, and to darn socks. If the hole to be filled was visible, the darning was done on the inside for appearance, but if it was inside the shoe, it was done on the outside for comfort. The school taught all eight elementary grades--kindergarten was unheard of then. There were four grades in each of the two rooms, and two teachers. There was a stage in the "upper room". For Christmas and graduation, the folding partition was opened so the entire community could be there.

Instructional materials: at that time students had to buy textbooks at the beginning of the year and could sell them back at the end of the year. I still have my arithmetic textbook from fifth grade, unmarked except for my name written in pencil on the inside cover. I also have my mother's arithmetic book from the 1890s in Laurens County, Georgia. She wrote all over hers. In content, the thing I now think most remarkable was the depth and breadth of the health instruction. The test book went into many aspects of rural health: the importance of cross-ventilation and double-hung windows, how to locate a well, how cesspools and septic tanks differed. That was all theoretical for that time and location, because electricity had not yet arrived.

My Uncle Jim was ready for it, though: the old farmhouse had a bathroom, tub, lavatory, and a flush toilet, but pretty useless without running water. Uncle Jim was a plumber by trade, and worked at the University of Tennessee. The big improvement that came in while I was there was Rural Free Delivery, mail delivered to your driveway, free. Our address was Route 2, Louisville. I learned many of life's most important lessons at Kit Carson, not just 'book-learning', but consideration and respect for others who are different, respect for elders (though I remember rebelling against my fifth grade teacher, for reasons I don't remember).

My father, Paschal "Pat" Glenn and I lived with his brother Jim's family on a farm near Ballard Church and the entrance to Bear Hollow. Aunt Myrtle taught me to embroider and to crochet, and I was once or twice allowed to put a few stitches into the quilt she was making. She cut and pieced the squares in the winter, by the light of oil lamps, then in the summer the ladies of the area met together on the front porch of the old farmhouse and quilted up their quilts. The frame was suspended from the porch ceiling, and five or six ladies could work at one time, so they went quickly. She also plucked breast feathers from the flock of geese to make new feather ticks, and made soap in the big kettle in the back yard. And there was a flock of guineas, chickens, hogs and a couple of milk cows.

The rolling store came around. In addition to selling things, he also mended pots. Pots that had leaks were taken back to wherever he was based, then brought back the next trip. The farmhouse burned to the ground early one summer day. They were able to save some things, the last being the piano. I can still see my father, then in his early sixties, and Uncle Jim bringing it down the front porch steps. How they did that is a testament to the strength that comes from dealing with danger.

We saved some clothes, but no shoes. One of the most traumatic experiences of my young life was having to go into a shoe store barefoot. I was sure they would think that we were just white trash that didn't ever wear shoes. Of course, in the summer, children rarely wore shoes at home. but they were required for going to town and to church.

My Uncle Bob Jinks was pastor at Ballard's then. The white frame building there was small, with two small rooms on either side of the entrance. This is where my Sunday School class met. Every summer there was an all-day meeting with dinner on the grounds. Now it would be called a potluck. Long board tables held the food, which the ladies set up while the children played hide-and-seek. One I remember well, a group of singers came from North Carolina. They were wonderful singers. One of them was a young man with, I now know, cerebral palsy, but he had the most beautiful singing voice I had heard in my young life. We also had missionaries on furlough from China. They showed my first Chinese embroideries. The 'wrong' side was as pretty as the 'right' side, not like the tangles and knots on mine. Uncle Bob and Aunt Annie had a store at the foot of the bridge, all now under water from the Ft. Loudon reservoir. It was a 2-story wood building, and they lived upstairs.

Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth, later married John Sing who still lives in the area. Mary Beth died several years ago, as did Uncle Jim's daughter, Juanita. Juanita was a reporter for the Knoxville Journal for all of her working life, and did not marry.

They are all gone now, and 'I alone remain to tell the

And let this be a lesson to you: don't invite an old
woman to ramble on about the past.
Mary Evelyn GLENN Young

The above was an entry in theBlountWeb Guestbook and a reply to Mary Evelyn for further information. Her reply to my request to tell me a little more about Kit Carson School and it turned out to be a wonderful visit into the past and it is published here for all to enjoy.
Thanks Mary Evelyn!

"On a little nostalgia trip today. I attended Kit Carson School in the mid 1930s, lived near Ballard Baptist Church."
January 21st, 2001
Yuba City, California
Mary Evelyn GLENN Young

Dear Mary Evelyn,
Thanks for your entry in the guestbook. Could you please take the time to tell me a little more about Kit Carson school. Was it here in Blount County?
Monday, January 22, 2001 5:13 AM
Steve Speer