In the mid-1920s, the Wilson’s landlord not only attended the Presbyterian Church, which he lived near, his house and barn were near the Dexter school.
The landlord allowed the Wilsons to use the “nice gentle pony” Nancy. Their father Clabe saddled the horse each morning so oldest sons Delbert and Donald could ride Nancy not quite 3 miles to school, leaving the horse in the landlord’s barn all day.
Kids were given authority a lot younger in those days, at least rural ones.
Decades later, Leora Wilson wrote in her memoirs, “They did pretty good, even did grocery shopping. I would send a list of groceries to get when they left for school and they would get the groceries after school. Clabe, their father, fixed a grain sack with a draw-string to hang over the saddle horn. Once they came home and no sack of groceries. They went back and someone had picked the sack of groceries up and hung it on a fencepost–all the groceries were there.”
When Doris started school in 1924, Clabe taught Delbert to hitch Nancy to a rig and drive the “Wilson school bus” to town. He was 9 years old.
While they lived on this farm, Leora ordered a sewing machine from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. It was too large to carry with the rural mail delivery, so the postman left a note to pick it up the post office. As soon as the kids got home from school, Leora drove Nancy and the rig back to town for her treasure.
It looks like the younger Wilson kids also got to enjoy this gentle horse.
Doris noted that sometimes when just the three kids rode, the wind blew so hard she couldn’t get her breath. When it rained, their mother sent an oil cloth to hold over themselves. When Dale and Darlene started school in 1926, Clabe made a cover for a two-seater buggy so all five could ride to town and back.
Public transportation in the past. Better than walking by foot, and tought in multigrade classes. Sometimes one really wants back this slowdowned time. 😉 Thanks for sharing this information, and have a happy New Year! xx Michael
Thank you, Michael, for your comment. Children were certainly given more mature jobs in those days. Delbert was 9 when he started with the horse and buggy, then just 11 when all five kids were in school.
The evolution of the school bus is quite revealing! Kids today have it so easy! And to think of how many times I’ve left a bag of groceries in the bagging area at Walmart but NO ONE alerted me to the fact. Probably took it for themselves. 🙁
Neighbors, hoping someone would do the same for them.
My wife used to walk to country school in Iowa every day. And even though I lived in New York City, I walked to school every day, and went home for lunch every day. We’ve lost something precious by keeping our kids sheltered, with no responsibilities.
Then Johnny Gosch was kidnapped on a Sunday morning while delivering newspapers, right in our town.
I love all the photo’s 🙂
They turn out better here than the small originals!
I walked or rode a bike to school from kindergarten to second grade, unsupervised. I would have loved the horse option.🙂 How wonderful they took so many photos!
I’m not sure why they took so many at that place, but they could at least afford it. Later it was to send the brothers who’d joined the navy.
The Wilson kids must have been very fond of Nancy! I love all the photos.
Oh, that reminds me. Somewhere I have Mom’s story (Doris) about Nancy slipping on the ice on their way to school and still crying about it when she got to class.
Oh, that must have been so frightening to experience the horse slipping on the ice.
She cried about it at school.
Poor kid . . .
Reminds me of the first horse I bought. I was 13. Sergeant was gentle and loved kids. A lot youngsters learned to ride a horse thanks to Sergeant.
What a nice memory. I’ve never been around horses, even though I grew up on a farm.
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Thank you so much!
Great story! My dad was born in 1925. He told me he rode a horse to school in Elida New Mexico until My grand dad started driving a school bus. (I’m not sure what constituted a school bus in Eastern New Mexico in those days. There seems to have been a lot of variation in the 1930’s.)
The youngest brother of the Wilson kids was also born in 1925. The family moved to another farm and went to a country school for a year, then moved to Dexter, where the kids could walk to school. I wish you could find a photo of the bus your granddad drove!
I have some boxes my stepmom has sent me that I haven’t been through. You never know…