Marian Bennett and Thelma Trent have each provided me some of their thoughts about the school and their lives there in written form. I will share those and some remarks from Thomas J. Stith in a 1983 “Messenger” article, providing first-hand information from those who really know.
Marian Bennett attended Shumate School from Grade 1 through 7, and switched to Junior and High school in Brandenburg.
When she graduated High School in 1948, she attended Bowling Green Business University. When she was in grade 1 through 3, she walked through the woods with her brother, but when he went to High School, her daddy bought her a pony to ride named Pearl. She loved her pony and nothing bad happened when she was with Pearl. She rode in a panel truck to the High School. Her favorite subjects were reading, spelling, and history, but she had some trouble understanding reading problems in math. Her Grandmother Julia Funk and her mother, Frances Williams, usually played piano for the PTA meetings, mostly Patriotic songs, but, because music was her favorite subject Marian played piano for some of the PTA meetings, and sang for them. She told me she really loved school because she got to see her friends and though she didn’t like to play ball, she liked other games. She remembered fondly the pie and ice cream suppers.
Her grades were A’s and B’s at Shumate and she thought she had too much homework, but she worked hard on her lessons, and never skipped school, because that didn’t seem right to her. When she got to High School, she went out for Volley Ball.
Thelma told me Shumate School was built by Jeff Shumate, her mother’s Uncle. He built the school because he had 13 children and they needed schooling. Thelma’s mother, Pauline Shumate Vessels was the first in her family to attend the one room school. She attended all eight years from 1911 through 1919.
The following year she attended Ekron High School. Her brothers James Anderson, Kenneth Anderson and herself attended Shumate from 1936 through 1940, and then the family moved, and they attended Guston Grade School.
Thelma remembers the Grange met in the Shumate School building, and there were school parties and celebrations at Christmas. Her favorite teacher was Mrs. McGehee. Thelma and Marian told me the school day was 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., showing it had decreased an hour over the years.
The Peddler drove a truck to their house and sold notions and things of use on the farm. There was another motorized salesman they called the “Raleigh Man,” who sold Vanilla Extract and things of that nature. On the farm she remembers making soap, sausage and hominy.
In those days there were three meals a day, breakfast, dinner and supper. The term lunch was not usually used. Suppers were the evening meal, and one person told me he didn’t agree with the change, explaining, “They didn’t call it the Lords dinner.” The pie suppers were in the evening. They both enjoyed the Glee Club singing, and there was a friend Tommie Stith who collected pretty rocks, and who could talk to Lady Bugs. Such good stories, such good memories.
Thomas J. Stith in a 1983 interview remembered the Pie and Box Suppers, Christmas plays and Halloween parties. Ray Hopper, Meade County’s first County Agent, held meetings in the school and recalled a number of teachers including, Ethel Vincent, Violet Shumate, Verna Mae Rice Robinson, Blanche Stith Gailbreath, Ralph Stith, Ava Burch, Ruth Board, Mildred Brown Carter, and Marjorie Shain Allen.
Today, school buildings are more substantial, teachers more educated, and technology rules, but I question in our haste to change, if we haven’t gotten caught speeding leaving behind something irretrievable and of great value; now, only to be glimpsed in Mary Ingles “Little House” stories, or recalled by seeking out and listening to those precious people willing to share memories and wisdom obtained in a simpler time.
We can only hope we haven’t lost more than has been gained.