The Goff family lived in northern Minnesota from 1903-1905. Rural schools in Polk County closed during the winter because the weather was too brutal. So the children started classes during the spring. Leora was in her early teens then.
From Leora Goff Wilson’s memoirs: “A branch of the railroad went north and was on the east side of our place. It went to a grain elevator and went by the schoolhouse. At noon on nice days it was so much fun to push a flatcar, which would be along close to the school sometimes. We would all push ’til we got it rolling good and then we’d all jump on and ride.
“One day the bell rang for school and we were quite a way down the track, so we left the flatcar and ran back to school. A section man came to the schoolhouse and told the teacher to not permit her pupils to play on the flatcars. He was afraid some little one would get hurt. Of course, we never thought of that–it was so much fun. So it was a good thing he stopped us, as there could very well have been an accident.
“Another enjoyable pastime in spring, when the snow melted and filled ditches along the railroad track, was to fix rail ties together to make a raft and float along. We could do that at school and we had a raft at home, too.”
Rural schools didn’t have playground equipment over 100 years ago. They made up their own games and activities, which would certainly be frowned on today!