By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
ROCKFORD — It had to be fate. What else could have brought
Rockford-area natives Charlotte Anspaugh and Pauline Wilson
together after nearly 70 years?
The former teacher and her pupil found themselves randomly sitting
next to one another recently during a One-Room Schoolhouse program
at The Laurels of Shane Hill. They soon discovered their lives
had crossed for the first time decades ago.
“We asked the residents if anyone attended a one-room
schoolhouse as a kid,” explained activities aide Sandy
Anspaugh, 86, (the former Charlotte Shope) answered first. “Well,
I went to the old King School,” she said.
Wilson, 89, took a good long look at her table partner before
replying, “Well, I used to teach there.”
Soon the childhood memories flowed like water — the long
walks to school each day on dirt and stone roads, freezing in
the drafty schoolhouse in the winter and packing apple butter
sandwiches more often than they’d liked.
“It was so interesting to hear the ladies tell stories
from back then,” said Brooke Reyman, an employee of the
facility. “They talked for quite some time that day.”
Wilson attended Winkler School — not far from King School
— as a child and didn’t know the little dark-haired
girl who would become her student one day. The women’s
lives became intertwined when Anspaugh was in eighth-grade at
King School. Wilson was her new teacher.
“At that time, it took only two years to get your teaching
degree,” Wilson (also her maiden name) explained, adding
that she was only about 19 when she taught “young Charlotte.”
Anspaugh was a young lady about to turn 16, who longed to further
“My dad wouldn’t let me go on to high school at
Rockford,” Anspaugh said. “In those days you had
to stay in school until you were 16, so I had to repeat the
The one-room schoolhouse — there were nine in Blackcreek
Township in the late ’20s and ’30s — no longer
stands at the corner of Erastus Durbin and Winkler roads. Like
most other rural schoolhouses in its time, all eight grades
and one teacher inhabited the same brick building.
Wilson said it was a challenge teaching such a broad age group
under one roof, but she always found ways to keep everyone busy.
“I’d give the older kids a big assignment with numbers
to keep them occupied, then I’d go about teaching the
younger ones how to read,” she said.
A big, round pot bellied stove stood right in the middle of
the room, Wilson said.
“I had to bring my own kindling wood from home to get
the fire going each morning,” she said.
Wilson said she vividly recalls being accused of using too much
coal in the winter by the men who maintained the building.
“But it got cold in there,” Anspaugh said in her
former teacher’s defense.
Back then the stove divided the wide desks from the smaller
ones. “Big kids on one side, little ones on the other,”
For punishment, she made her students stand in the corner.
“Charlotte’s brother, Toy, spent plenty of time
there,” Wilson said as the two women laughed.
Anspaugh remembered wearing print dresses made of flour sacks
sewn by her aunt. She had few school dresses and sometimes hurried
home to wash and dry her attire for school the next day, she
They both laughed as they recalled the ink holes in their desks
for dipping writing sticks. The hidden tubs of ink were way
too tempting for the pranksters of their class.
“The boys liked to grab the girls’ pig tails and
stick the ends in the ink. It was quite messy,” Wilson
In the warmer months, most of the farm children arrived at school
barefoot. When the snow got deep they donned boots and their
parents brought them by horse and sleigh, the women said. There
were no car pools, no fog or snow days.
“Times were a lot tougher then,” Wilson added.
Wilson graduated from the former Rockford High School in 1931,
and later in life attended several colleges before receiving
her master’s in education. Before retirement, she worked
as curriculum director at Celina City Schools. Her husband,
Le Roy Wilson, died in 1946.
Anspaugh returned home last week to her husband, Virgil, in
Mendon after her brief rehabilitation at the nursing facility.
After reminiscing with her long, lost teacher, she took home
memories that she had long forgotten.
“We were kids then, country kids. We didn’t know
any better and we didn’t have much,” Anspaugh said.
“But we’ll always remember our schoolhouse days.”