Mary Meyers - teaching (in Garrett and Allegany counties)
Mary Meyers: I started at a one room school at Mount Zion and I had thirty-nine children in seven grades. I really don't know how much I taught children. I was just out of college and I didn't know too much about it. A job like that should have an experienced person. But I learned from that. I learned a great deal from it. And I learned from the children. And the older children helped the younger ones. So they did learn. I think they learned in spite of me.
Then the second year when I went to Swanton, it was a two room school. Now at Mount Zion we had just one big room and a, what they call a "frost killer" stove in the middle. And the boys would bring the wood and the coal and fire that. And then in the vestibule coming into the school, we had a big container of water and they would go down over the hill to the well and get water, buckets of water, and bring that up and put in there. So they had water. And they had their lunch, lunches they'd bring in bags and put out there, until lunch time.
And then at Swanton it was more civilized. It was a brick building. It had two rooms. First, second, third grade in one room. And fourth, fifth, and sixth in the other.
The first year when I was principal at Mount Zion because I was the only teacher there. And I was paid $980 a year. And Mr. Rathbun, the superintendent said, "If you will take care of the fire, er, the furnace, er, take care of the stove, and getting water and so on then that'd be your janitorial duties." I'd get $5 a month more.
And I said "No thanks. There's a little girl lives down over the hill and she needs that money and she can have that job." And she came every day before school and started the fire. And she came after school and swept and kept the school nice and clean.
But then at Swanton we had a man who was custodian. He took care of all that. He had the furnace and it was more modern and it was really a nice setup there. But I was there for just one year.
Gail Herman: Where did you go from there?
Mary Meyers: From there I came into Allegany County, because that was where my home was and, see, I, there weren't enough jobs. There weren't enough places, so that we would go to other counties to start out. And Mr. Rathbun always said, "Well, they wait till we get them started and get them trained, then they take them back to Allegany County."
But, anyway, we were glad to get home because out there I had to stay in a farm house. At Mount Zion I walked two miles to school every day. Now in Swanton, of course, it was just, oh, maybe a five minute walk from there, from the boarding house to school. So I was moving out and getting a lot, better all the time.
So then I came to Allegany County. But I had to start in a rural school again because that was the custom. When your first year you had to be in a one room school. So that's what I did.
GH What one room school did you do then?
MM Well it was near Oldtown. It was called Sulphur Springs because they have sulphur water there and it smelled like rotten eggs. I never could drink it. But that's what was there. And at the boarding house we had better water so I drank water when I got home.
But I taught there only part of the year and then I was moved into Cumberland. And I taught from sixth grade at Penn. Avenue. And then later on I taught in Westernport and finally back to Lonaconing and I stayed at home then. And I taught in Jackson School, which is another end of town and then I moved from there to Central School which was next door. So I taught there then.
GH Is there still a building there?
Catherine Meyers: Uh-huh. Oh it's torn down.
GM School's down?
MM Uh-huh, it's torn down. They built a new school. They had a new Valley. It used to be Central School was next door and it was from first grade through twelfth. And then later on they decided to have a separate high school building. That's when they built Valley High School at Detmold which was the southern end of town.
And then they consolidated all the little one room, one and two room schools that were around the area and brought them in centrally to Lonaconing, to Central school. And then we had a, it was a much larger school. We have three first grades with about 35-40 children in each one, and so on.
Then later on they decided they would build, we needed a new school because the building was really in very poor condition and they built an elementary school about a mile north of town and that's when I retired. Because after all, I have lived next door to the school and came home for lunch and I didn't have to get up early, real early, and I could walk to school and got home early and so, why go a mile north of town. And it was an open-space school, which was entirely different and I thought, well, "I don't think that's for me." So I gave up.
GH: What was the year you started at Mt Zion?
MM: What year?
GH: Yes. Mount Zion.
MM: 30, 1930… 1937
Mary Meyers, Catherine Meyers and Gail Herman
Photograph of the 1959-1960 first grade class at Central School, Lonaconing, is used with permission of Michael Staup.
Garrett College, McHenry.
Coal miners--Maryland--History; Coal miners--West Virginia--History; Garrett County (Md.)--History; Allegany County (Md.)--History.
Western Maryland, 1930-1980