Lysander Goes to School -- Plainville School, District #5

A long-time Plainville resident was kind enough to share the original school record book with me. It traces the history of School District #5 from 1880 through 1946 including the work of the trustees to accommodate the students after the fire. According to the old book, on April 29, 1921, it was resolved that "the trustees of Union School District No. 5 of the Town of Lysander, County of Onondaga, are hereby authorized and directed to cause plans and specifications to be prepared for erection of a new school building." Until then, trustee Rufus Gates arranged to house the school in the Charter Oak Lodge hall. This social and charitable organization was founded in 1907. It included some 200 residents of the local community with names like Bitz, Bratt, Dugar, Ford, Gates, Griebno, Hudson, Loset, Pickard, Schenck, Smith, Thomas, Turner, Upson, Voorhees, Ward and Woodruff. It's not surprising that these same names appear again and again in the pages of the record book as trustees, teachers and workers.

In fact, the record book shows that Marjorie VanDoren and Flossie Smith were the two teachers at the time of the fire in 1920. They were each paid about $100 per month. One of the more interesting expenses was $5.95 paid to Edward Reeves (Flossie's future husband) for dynamite, probably used to demolish the remnants of the burned-out brick structure. The book further reports that at a trustee meeting in late 1921, Onondaga County School Commissioner, "M.D. Green congratulated the building committee and district on having built such a good school building."

Rufus Gates' daughter, Mary Eleanor Gates Slye describes the new school building as "two rooms side by side, each with its own cloak room. It was elevated. You went up some concrete steps to get up to the next level. There were lavatories in the basement, which was where the furnace was. We had school from 9 to 12 and 1 to 4, with one hour for lunch and 15 minutes for recess in the morning and afternoon. We always opened the school day with a prayer, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and one verse of 'My Country 'Tis of Thee.' Most students brought their own lunches and most who lived near the school went home for lunch. Later on, they had small bottles of milk delivered by the dairy in Baldwinsville, and we bought them for a nickel each. We brought water by the pail full from a well across the road. It was great honor to be selected to go get the water. I walked to school, because there weren't any buses, you know. If the weather was really bad, then my father or Bob Bitz's would arrive with a team of horses and a bob sled to take the kids home."

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