A. THEN: Hey Grandkids – as school starts again for you, I want to tell you a little of my first grade experience in a Patch Town two-room school house.
What is a Patch town? FROM THE WEB: ” In the early 1900’s Pennsylvania had more company towns, which were known as Coal Patches or Patch Towns, then any other state. They were straight rows of double houses placed close together, within walking distance to the mine shaft entrance. Each house painted all a dull and ugly color, each house exactly like its neighbors, small back yards cluttered with sheds and privies along a back alley, houses and yards showered with smoke and dust from the steam locomotive railway and the big mine tipple.
A few of the remaining patch houses in Baker-Whitely, PA.
Former company store building in Baker-Whitely, PA.
When I got on the school bus for the 8 mile ride to the Reitz Patch town of Number 1 the bus stopped at Baker Whitley to pick a few kids from this Baker Whitely Patch Town. Reitz Number 1 looked just like Baker Whitley – All Patch Towns look the same. Company Owned and a Company store.
Now I want you to know — this little farm boy was so home sick for the first 4 weeks of school that I think I cried for at least 3 1/2 weeks — Everything was strange and I was alone -only one farm girl in the 2 room school house. must have been 25 patch town kids – and the teacher smelled of Noxzema cream – Brethren women did not use perfume – only smelled of barn oder — if anything. Them I figured it out – these coal miners son and daughters were very nice kids. – just different — so I soon got with it and really learned to enjoyed their friendship and school learning.
These kids knew lots of things I did not know though – Like:
1. Tipple? – A large structure that railroad hopper cars were pushed under by the steam locomotive so that the cars could be filled with coal from above.
2. Alley? – A small dirt road that ran beteewn the backyards of company row houses.
3. Privy? – Outhouse – in every back yard – it’s back to the alley.
4. Honey Dipper? – They men with a long handled scoop on a horse drawn tank – drove down the alley and scooped out each privy, no one wanted to be near by – the smell was far beyond that of any cow stable that I was used to.
5. Mass? – I went to Church or Sunday School – They went to Mass and Confession.
All seemed very strange to me, so I cried, but I sucked it up, and got over it:
Most Patch town people did not have cars – they walked to work, to church (Roman Catholic or Russian Orthodox Catholic– The later had Christmas in January), and to the company store. They went home for lunch – I had to eat my cold pork and/or venison mince meat sandwich (lard for butter) with the one farm girl and the teacher in the school room.
Oh, another thing I remember that was that was different – all my cloths were home made – mostly out of feed sack material – from my underwear to the nickers I wore — no one else wore nickers.
Some day I will tell you more of grade school, high school, and college.
B. NOW — Some of my photos of hearts in nature: