Saturday, November 21, 2015

Early days of OSA from journal of James. B. McQueen

         "The first school I can recall was the one room frame building on the George Chapman farm about two miles north of Preston. It was called the "Yellow Jacket," as it had rustic outside and was painted a bright yellow. I attended school for four seasons. For my fish year, my father asked that I be admitted to the Oneida Academy.
         “...classes had been held in the basement rooms for four seasons while construction went on above them.  The building was finished in 1894.
         “I entered the academy in 1901 on probation. This school was intended to become a Normal School to train teachers for the elementary schools. District schools were being set up in the area and subjects were being set up on a schedule of graders, but qualified teachers were not found in adequate numbers. The one-teacher grade schools were not filling the need of the community. 
         “At first, the academy included all the elementary grades from one to eight. As time went on the public schools improved and the Academy discontinued the lower grades and extended its curriculum to include the upper grades.
         “The year I entered the Academy from the Yellow Jacket the grades form one to five had been eliminated form the Academy and the 9th and 10th grades included. As I had had only four seasons in a one-room school they were reluctant to admit me to the sixth grade. I was finally admitted on probation. The next year the sixth grade was eliminated and the third year of high school was added. Some how I sneaked y the tests and returned for the balance of the school years, graduating at the head of my class in 1908.
         “For three years I was the smallest boy in the school and was nicknamed “The Runt.” When the academy set up a school band under the direction of Professor Henry Otte in the fall of 1908, I tried to get an alto horn as it was supposed to e he easiest instrument to learn. But Professor Otte was sure I was too small to handle a horn – so he gave me the Bass Drum.
         “My class finished the prescribed course of study for graduation from the Normal course in may 1908. This was the year of the big soak. There had been so much rainfall and freezing weather that no fieldwork had been done on any farms. Loose animals had been mired in the fields and even on the highways. My classmates told me that it was my privilege to meet the speaker for the graduation program at Dayton.
         “I put two plow horses on the little buggy that took father to and from his shop and took off for Dayton at sunrise. The surface of the ground was frozen hard enough that the wheels of the gig stayed on top, but the horses’ feet went through the ice to a depth of ten to 14 inches.
         “I reached Dayton depot about noon, unhitched the team and gave them a drink of water and feed of oats. I could see the smoke from the train several miles down the track, so I hitched up. And then it started to rain. The ice was all melted and the buggy axles dragged the mud most of the way back to Preston, where we arrived about six o-clock. I did not dare try to take the team out to the farm, but put them in a livery barn in town for the night.
         It was a trip I shall never forget, for I had spent five hours with David O. McKay, who later became President of the Church.

         I washed the mud off as best I could in the horse trough at the livery stable, telephoned the folks at home on the farm and asked them to bring y suit and clean shirt with them as they come to the graduation program. They came. We went to the program and I sat next to brother McKay on the stand, and I delivered the valedictory on the program with the future president of the Church.”

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