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A swimming giraffe, an ex's ex, and a one-room schoolhouse

Last night I dreamed that I had a huge aquarium which I’d neglected because I forgot it was there, even though it was huge. Probably 20 feet long, with two levels.

Once I remembered it was there I added some water and fed the fish. Then I went shopping at a little confectionery that was selling miniature aquarium creatures cheap. They were swimming around in a tiny tank. I bought about six of them, including a turtle and a little swimming giraffe. I brought them home and put them in my aquarium. But then I took a good look at the creatures who already lived in my aquarium. There was a fish who looked a lot like a sock monkey. There was a whole roomful of breeding budgies, and another roomful of breeding lovebirds, and another roomful of breeding rats.

There was also a great big mean thing which instantly killed my turtle. I caught him and he had lots of big pointy teeth. I put him on the ground and told him he was banished. He lumbered away across the floor.

Some people came to my door and said they were my landlords and told me I had to get rid of my aquarium. I was sad because I really liked that little giraffe.

Yesterday my son’s father’s ex-wife came to visit. I hadn’t seen her since she moved to the Sunshine Coast in BC with her four daughters, about 25 years ago. She’s in Ottawa for a few weeks because her sister has very sadly been diagnosed with fourth stage breast cancer. We had a lovely visit. The lovebirds perched on her head and we reminisced for a couple of hours. She does holistic healing work at a parrot rescue in Nanaimo, BC, in addition to healing work with people. (That sounds kind of dream-like too, but it was real.)

Other than that, I’ve been pretty busy writing my Nanowrimo book. I’m over 18,000 words now. Last night we wrote at the Centrepointe Library for awhile. I had some books on hold there, including Perseverance, Pranks and Pride: Tales of the One-Room Schoolhouse. I lived in a one-room schoolhouse near Kinburn from the age of 10 until I left home at 15. There are two pages about our schoolhouse (S.S. No. 5 Fitzroy) in the book, along with a couple of photographs. There’s a picture of the 17 students who attended the school in 1959, and I knew two of them. They lived across the road from us, and were about ten years older than me. One of them was in hairdressing school when I was a kid, and she cut my hair by putting it all in a ponytail and then cutting off the ponytail.

Apparently S.S. No. 5 Fitzroy was in use as a school until the year before we moved into it, which surprised me. I just assumed one-room schoolhouses were part of ancient history. So either I was wrong about that, or else I’m part of ancient history. (I think I’ll go with the first option.)

16 comments to A swimming giraffe, an ex’s ex, and a one-room schoolhouse

  • deb

    I knew SS #5 had been decommissioned in 1967…that was the year Fitzroy Centennial opened. Bonnie went to our house I think. I was telling someone about it the other day.

    The fish dream may be a warning that the zoo is taking over your life.

  • Thats so cool! I knew it was decomissioned in 67 because the Hick’s had a few school desks on their porch and told me they came from our house.. Mrs Jorgensen (our babysitter up across from Orville’s shack) went to #5 and showed me a few pictures too.

    I’d love to see that book!

  • Heather G.

    My aunt taught in a one-room schoolhouse for a year in the 60’s in Southwestern Ontario also… so not so ancient history (though before my own time). Her school was the Blackbush schoolhouse, though I can’t remember the number. I wonder if it is in the book too?

  • I just love the idea of the little swimming giraffe. Lovely image.

  • Deb, I don’t think I ever knew that! Wow.

    Mudmama, how would the Hicks’ having school desks on their porch tell you it was decommissioned in 67? I remember we kept a few of the desks and blackboards – if I remember correctly, you learned how to read and write on them.

    Heather, I’m going to look up your aunt’s school in the book now – but I doubt that it’s in there because it just covers the Ottawa Valley, which is in Eastern Ontario. Hang on. Nope. I don’t think it’s in there…sorry.

    Finola, that was my very favourite part of the whole dream!

  • I asked Dodi why she wanted the desks and she said her son wanted the ones he sat in and showed me where he’d written his name. Then she told me about the schoolhouse and it closing, and the auction, and us buying it.At 8 in 1977 1967 sounded like ancient history to me! I remember drawing with her tin of old dusty crayons at that desk and feeling honoured that she let me use these ANTIQUES!

  • Grace

    I was the only kid in my class until our one room school house was decommissioned in 1967. The first order of business at the BIG six room school was a visit to the flush toilets for a demonstration.

    When my mother was pregnant with child number six our family had added an indoor bathroom to our farm house. I was proud to be made bathroom monitor that first week to help all those unaccustomed to indoor facilities. Feeling old now.

  • Bonnie

    Yes I went to your schoolhouse home from the fall of ’66 until the spring of ’67 when we all moved into Fitzroy Centennial. When I went to S.S. No.5 , Mrs Stevenson was the teacher and it was only grade 4. Previous to that I went to S.S. No.2 Fitzroy (or was it No.4?) and it held all 8 grades. Our teacher was Mrs Lemon. And I had to walk there every day, probably 4km one way(uphill both ways :b)
    Could you look up SS No 2 (or 4) and let me know if there’s anything in the book about it? If there’s a class picture my brother and sisters would be in it.

  • Grace

    My one room school was at Jellyby (my grandmother was Grace Jelly) and is now used as a very, very tiny one car garage on a property just up the road.

  • Mudmama – antiques! ha ha!

    Grace, wow. See, that seems like it should have happened around the Little House on the Prairie timelines. Not during YOUR lifetime! (I’m finding myself also remembering things – and technologies – that seem like ancient history now. My first ‘album’ was a Janis Joplin 8-track. (I know that doesn’t rival a flush toilet.)(Which reminds me – when we lived in the schoolhouse, we had a toilet we weren’t allowed to flush until it was full, because there wasn’t much water in the well.)

    Bonnie, SS 2, 4 and 5 Fitzroy are all in the book. What would you like to know? Mrs. Stevenson, by the way – she didn’t end up being the librarian at Fitzroy Centennial, did she? An older, sour woman, who didn’t really trust children with books.

    Grace, I’ll look yours up to and see if it’s in there.

  • Bonnie – was it this one? SS No. 2 Fitzroy, also known as Howe’s School, about a mile from Antrim? (Students used to ride their horses to school in the winter, and board them at one of two stables – Mr. E. New’s stable or Mr. A. A. Timmins’ stable.) The building was torn down in the 1970s. There’s a photo of it taken circa 1970 and it’s a white building with three windows on one side and one window in a porch-like add-on on another side.

    Grace – I don’t think the book extends as far as that neck of the woods. (Maybe you should write the one-room schoolhouse book for that area?)

  • TechWood

    Wow! Neat to know our first home was featured in a book. It will always be remembered/cherished. It was my favourite house out of all those I’ve lived in. The bowling alley wasn’t even a match for it. I think what I loved the most was my room with the blackboard and the bathroom in the turret.


  • Bonnie

    that’s the one! I never rode a horse to school though.

  • Techwood, I know, it’s cool, eh? Your room was in the blackboard room? When I still lived at home your room was in the basement, and the blackboard room was the TV room (next to the bar). When we first moved in, the bathroom in the turret was two bathrooms (a boys’ and a girls’) with a wall down the middle and a peephole in the wall.

    Bonnie. Okay, let me see. S.S. No. 2 Fitzroy. Former teacher Betsy Clarke relates the story. When she first started school in 1946, her 19-year-old cousin, Eleanor Serson was the teacher. Eleanor had to organize 30 Grade 1-8 students while coping with a wood stove, no electricity or running water, and an outhouse. The older students helped the younger students, and this is how Betsy Clarke ended up in her own teaching career. She remains a firm believer in not being too easy on kids. Back then, most kids had farm chores in the morning before school, then they had to get themselves to school, and at lunchtime they had to haul pails of water and wood into the school. And they didn’t expect to be paid for it either! Kids today aren’t what they used to be! They’re all spoiled and soft now, and they have no idea what failure is because they’re so protected from it. Everybody does everything for the lousy ingrates nowadays!

    (Paraphrased by zoom!)

  • Bonnie

    dammit…I knew there was a peephole in that bathroom wall!
    Those teachers at SS No 2 were before our time. I think Mrs Currie taught my older sisters and brother.
    Thanks for the info!

  • Hi all,

    I edited the book for Joy Forbes – it’s nice to see some interest. Didn’t know what I was getting into when I started, but now I’m hooked on the history of one room schools.

    Zoom! – A nice summation of Betsy Clarke. I liked doing her story, it had some oomph. Still, next time, I’ll contact you prior to release!!

    Check out the website if you like, and drop Joy a message – I’m certain she’d love to hear from you.