toCheryl2041webI have always loved going to school. Even now, when I walk into WalMart or Target and the school supplies are displayed (in JULY!) I have to stop and look at them. My husband laughs at me, but I just keep on picking up post-it notes and pencils, thinking “I will need these at some point…”

Growing up in the 60’s, our school supply lists were not long at all in elementary school. A “Big Chief” tablet, one of those HUGE pencils, paste in a jar (with a brush built into the lid!), a box of crayons, and a pair of “school scissors” and a wooden ruler. That was it. By the time my kids started school in the 90’s—all that had changed. After shopping for school supplies for only two children, I wondered how families with several kids could afford for them to even go to school—and that wasn’t counting back-to-school clothing.



My mom spoke of her school days just shortly after Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma. That happened in 1907. She was born in 1922, and started school when she was only 5. She attended a one-room school house in Albany, a very small southeastern Oklahoma town. With the Depression on the way, and the Dust Bowl days looming, she spoke of the poverty of everyone she knew. She was the eldest of eleven children. Food was scarce. School supplies were almost nonexistent. I imagine that was why she took such pleasure in buying Big Chief tablets and crayons for me.

SEQUOYAH ORPHANS TRAINING SCHOOL, 1920 (near Tahlequah, OK, Cherokee Capital)


Education is so important. Thinking back, I’ve included it in many of the stories I’ve written, and I always love to see it included in the stories I read, as well.





Young boys pose during recess. This picture was taken at Newcastle, Oklahoma, in 1914.

BLOG-Boys at school in Newcastle-1914







This is interesting. It’s the exam that students had to pass in order to graduate from 8th grade. This one came from Salina, Kansas, and is dated 1895. Students could take the exam in 7th grade and if they didn’t pass, could have another chance in 8th grade to re-take it. I don’t think I could pass this even now! Take a look!


Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts

Grammar (Time, one hour)

  1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
  2. 2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
  3. 3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
  4. 4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
  5. 5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
  6. 6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
  7. 7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  2. 2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  3. 3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
  4. 4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
  5. 5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
  6. 6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
  7. 7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
  8. 8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
  9. 9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
  10. 10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
  2. 2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
  3. 3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
  4. 4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
  5. 5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
  6. 6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
  7. 7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
  8. 8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)

  1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
  2. 2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
  3. 3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
  4. 4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.
  5. 5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
  6. 6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
  7. 7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
  8. 8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
  9. 9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
  10. 10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

  1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
  2.  How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
  3. 3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
  4. 4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
  5. 5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
  6. 6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
  7. 7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
  8. 8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
  9. 9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
  10. 10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Health (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
  2. 2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
  3. 3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
  4. 4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
  5. 5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.

Incidentally, during these times, school only lasted 7 months, from October 1 to April 1. This allowed time for planting, farming, and harvest.

What about your “school days” memories? Were you a student who looked forward to school, or hated it? Do you have a favorite story of those by-gone times to share?

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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  1. Wow, I’m still blown away by that test I’m afraid many high school students today couldn’t pass any more. The math part seems familiar to me, at least, in style anyway if not the examples. And I grew up in the middle of where Revolutionary events happened so history and field trips were a very big deal in school days.

    Again, we’re alike in our love of supplies–different kinds of paper, pens, post-its and so on. I’m currently interested in tracing medieval borders (yep, sorry, it’s true) so only a certain kind of tracing paper and extra fine flowing pen tip will do! Crazy, huh? Only the number of books I own outnumber (by far) the amount of supplies I have.

    To answer your question, as a youngster when my dad and I went to a small general store, I always headed for the small paper and pencils section–or other exotics, like a pink eraser or crayons! 🙂

    As for my mom, she was born in 1926 south of Tulsa but also lived further south, and on one trip we found her old still-standing one-room school house on a dirt road in the outback between Checotah and Eufaula–but a little more to the east, the territory where her father, grandfather and uncles had lived.

    I also found your mom’s Albany–near Durant, right? (Did I tell you I love maps?) And Blanchard, south of you but near Norman, right? Did anything of the school survive besides the photo?

    P.S. I confess to still being jealous that you live in Toby Keith country! Looking at maps with Moore where he grew up reminded me. Great post. Sorry for going on so long as usual.

    • No, no, Eliza! Don’t be sorry–I love these long posts of yours! I was like that too–always heading for the pencils, erasers, crayons, etc. Even now, I confess, when we have to go to Office Depot for something, I could wander for hours in there. LOL And I did indulge myself not long ago and bought a wonderful planner in there.

      I love that you’re obsessed with tracing medieval borders. That sounds relaxing and fun. I have recently started the coloring obsession that’s going on. I don’t do a lot of “fancy” stuff–I have several marker sets I use, and I bought colored pencils, but I really love the markers more. I think that’s done more for my high blood pressure than anything else.

      Yes, Albany is very close to Durant. That was the “big city” closest to many of those small little towns–Calera, Yuba, Albany, Achille, Blue… I love maps, too! My best friend all through my life lived in Checotah for a while–her son actually took Carrie Underwood to the prom one year because everyone else was afraid to ask her. LOL Now she lives in Eufaula. That’s some beautiful country there! I forgot to say, my mom and dad met in grade school there in Albany. There were 12 people in their graduating class (1939) and they went to see Gone With the Wind for their sr. class “activity”–they were sweethearts all through school.

      Blanchard is not far from Norman at all. And therefore, close to Moore–and Toby Keith country. His name used to be painted on the water tower there. And Moore is where they have had so many tornadoes over and over again. Not sure what’s up with that…but I don’t think I’d want to live there. LOL

      It’s so good to hear from you!

  2. Oh my goodness, I’d fail those tests. I don’t remember much about tests in school except that they were boring and I hated them! I always hated the first day of school. It meant long days of drama. The high school drama and people were not fun to me. I wanted to be home playing on the farm, with animals that wouldn’t create drama! I had friends and loved seeing them again, but I loved being at home more. Must be the farm kid in me!

    • Susan, I was so lonely growing up with my sisters so much older than I was, that I just couldn’t wait to get to school. Luckily, in our neighborhood there was never any shortage of kids to play with, but I really did love school and for the most part, the teachers I had. Probably if I’d had animals to play with like you did, I wouldn’t have wanted to go to school, either! LOL

      Thanks for coming by!

  3. Oh, the things we forget after being away from the classroom. I’d have to do some serious cramming to be ready for that test. 🙂 And Cheryl – I, too, am oddly attracted to the school supply aisle. No one can ever have enough pens, post-it notes, or highlighters.

    • Karen, I agree. My closet in my office is like a mini-Office Depot. LOL I miss the days of being able to shop for school supplies with my kids, and seeing their excitement, too. And I remember growing up how my mom and dad ALWAYS bought be a new box of crayons for home–a BIG box! LOL

  4. I look forward to it even though I had to leave maine till the next summer. We went to school from the day after labor day till about the 3rd week in june.

    • Kim, growing up, we used to start the day after Labor Day and get out toward the end of May. My dad’s birthday was May 28th and he always would say they were letting us out in honor of his birthday. LOL By the time my kids were in elementary school, they were starting mid-August and getting out mid-May.

  5. The thought of tests make me sick! I always hated taking tests of any kind. I happened to have gone to school in the same building that my mother and daddy went to school in as well.

  6. I plead guilty to being another school supply buyer with no one to give them to. I did get them for my 2 grandsons who graduated this past Spring, but the last few years so much was done on computer that they didn’t need much. My granddaughter starts kindergarten this year and I look forward to buying school supplies for her. I donated my stash last year to the local backpack project for children who needed help getting their school supplies. Now I can start stocking up again : )

    Those test questions would be a challenge. I was a good student and would be hard pressed to pass most sections. I would likely of best in science and history. I am not sure they even covered some of those topics when I was in school.

    For the most part, I enjoyed school. There were a few teachers that made life particularly miserable, but most were good. I LOVED college. I can understand why some people become “professional students.” We are extending the experience now. The local university has an educational institute for seniors. They have Spring and Fall sessions with 2 classes a week. The guest speakers cover a wide variety of topics and have been very interesting. I attended many years ago between my job at the Children’s Museum and my job at the library. My husband and I are now enjoying it together. There is a 5 day retreat at a lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There will be guest speakers and free time to hike or take in the local sites. We are really looking forward to getting away from the chaos that is our lives and enjoying it. It is nice being around people who have open minds and take an interest in discussing topics and respect varying opinions.

    Thanks for sharing an interesting post.

  7. Cheryl – All those test, no way would any of us pass them. I love looking at the school supplies also, my grandson always needs something that I picked up. Schools here in IN. start too soon, around Aug. 5th for some & others a little later; but always before Labor Day. We started after Labor Day & I always wore my new winter sweater, crazy right; because my school didn’t have air…..boy was I HOT! Glad those old days are over…..

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