Why did the two teachers hide their marriage?

Gee, our old LaSalle ran rough?
Or: You’ve come a long way, baby!

Waldo Windmill: “My mother-in-law told the story many times of how she and my father-in-law secretly exchanged marriage vows while each held a teaching position in the same small-town school. They did their best to conceal their union for fear that she would lose her job should the nuptials become public. Adding intrigue to this ‘web of deceit’ was the fact that my father-in-law’s father was the chair of the school board at the time.

“Now what was this all about? Unfortunately, it was common practice at the time (the 1930s) for school boards to terminate female teachers, or at least not renew their contracts, if they married. Apparently the reasoning was that a married woman already had a breadwinner in the household and that her continuing to teach might/would deprive someone ‘more needy’ of a job. Also, of course, a married female teacher brought with her the possibility of a pregnancy and its potential for complicating the job situation.

“Despite the precariousness of holding teaching positions, however, women dominated the instructional work force, especially in rural one-room schools. During my eight years of attending two such schools beginning in 1936, I had two male teachers, each for only a year. Moreover, records for the school in Southeastern Wisconsin from which I graduated, in 1944, show that during the period 1900-1961 (when the school closed), a total of 36 teachers were employed, only one of whom was a male. The tenuousness of women’s retaining teaching positions for any significant length of time is illustrated by the fact that only eight of the 35 female teachers taught in the school for more than two years, seven for two years, and the remaining 20 for one year or less.

“Expectations placed on teachers during the first half of the 20th century clearly had something to do with their short stay in any given school. In my search for examples of such expectations, I encountered over and over again the same set of rules designated as ‘1872 Rules for Teachers’ and ‘1915 Rules for Teachers,’ but I could not pinpoint exactly where they originated.They appeared without attribution or with conflicting attribution in various publications. But it is likely that they or similar admonitions were part of contract negotiations in many school districts. [Bulletin Board interjects: Snopes.com proclaims the 1872 and 1915 Rules to be “legend.” But even so, they might have some basis in fact . . . and are certainly entertaining!]

“Regardless of where the rules originated or for what purpose (some seem to reflect someone having fun with language), they certainly bear a semblance of applicability given what we know about life in America at that time. A sample of the 1872 rules, for example, state: (1) Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed. (2) After ten hours in school, teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. (3) Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly. (4) Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty.

“The 1915 Rules for Teachers (which appear to have been written strictly for women) included: (1) You will not marry during the term of your contract. (2) You must wear at least two petticoats. (3) You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother. (4) You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores. (5) You must keep the school house neat and clean. You must sweep the floor at least daily, scrub the floor at least once a week with hot soapy water, clean the blackboards at least daily, and start the fire at 7 am so the room will be warm at 8 am.

“The rules, especially the latter set, certainly contained a great deal of language designed to lower the probability of a female teacher’s becoming married during her contractual stint in the classroom. Assuming these stipulations were common in teachers’ contracts in the early 1900s, it is obvious that leadership in one-room school districts viewed marriage of a woman teacher as something to be discouraged. According to the data presented from the school I attended, it appears they were probably not successful. It’s possible, even likely, that marriage was a significant factor in the rapid turnover of women teachers. Evidently my in-laws had good reason not to announce their marriage, ‘sneaky’ though it may have been.

“One thing for sure. We country-school pupils seldom came to know any one teacher over any significant period of time. And we almost never had to learn to call our female teacher a different name because she decided to ‘tie the knot.’ Instead when she said ‘I do,’ we had to learn the name of her replacement.”

The highfalutin amusements

Elvis: “Subject: Congratulations!

Elvis loves getting those special spam emails that start out like this one from ‘Mrs. Mavis Wanczyk’: ‘Hello! Email address owner!'”

Could be verse!

A pair of “timericks” from the world’s only timerick writer (so far as we know), Tim Torkildson:

(1) “I will not wash my socks no more / so I go barefoot on the floor. / I can’t get coins for wash machines. / Maybe I won’t do my jeans. / If paper clothes were trending, then / I’d never have to wash again!”

(2) “Each day is better than the last. / I cannot be iconoclast / with friends below and in the heavens, / with prayer as yeast that always leavens, / so though the years pile up like slag / I ain’t a-wavin’ that white flag!”

Then & Now
And: The great comebacks

From Al B of Hartland: (1) “I didn’t see a bald eagle until I was 14. I told that to a boy who replied: ‘I’ve seen 14 bald eagles, and I’m only 7 years old.'”

(2) ”Subject: Frass and double frass!

“I stubbed my toe against a sturdy furniture leg in the darkness. There was a pause between impact and the time the pain alert hit my clouded brain. I mumbled: ‘Frass!’ Frass means insect excrement and is a perfectly acceptable expletive.”

Our horses, ourselves

The Astronomer of Nininger: “I’ve always been fond of horses. Kings have been fond of them, too. So have gamblers.

“The Good Wife and I had horses, and loved them, for well over 30 years, and the feeling was mutual. Horses grow to love us in a special way, not just as someone who feeds them hay and oats daily and cleans their stalls. They care for us, too.

“My daughter acquired an Arabian horse, standing 14-and-a-half hands high when full grown. Height is measured at the withers, 4 inches being one hand. He was young, about 9 months old, a deep black shimmering with a purple pearl hue, and totally full of pizazz and vinegar. He was ready to be trained. She nicknamed him Knight, and that’s what we called him. We’d had to sell our other horses when we moved here from Wyoming, so getting more seemed natural.

“Knight was born black, but as he matured his color lightened. By the time he was 2, he was snow white. We couldn’t ride him until he was at least that old, so we had lots of time to form a relationship, build trust and confidence. This was a two-way street. We learned about each other together.

“He tried to let us know from the beginning that he intended to be the boss. He depended on us for food, water and shelter, but he seemed determined that things would go his way. I remember one time, after finishing our daily session, I took the halter off of him, turned and walked away. I got no more than 20 feet from him when he came and intentionally bit me on the butt. Now, I have more than enough cushioning back there, but this was a turning point. Either I could show fear and let him win, or I could show him who was the real boss. Well, I won that battle, but we had others. Being consistent let him know what to expect.

“My daughter was strong-minded. She would not let Knight win. Before she could ride him, she was able to show him at halter at the County Fair. I mentioned that he had a lot of spirit. Arabians are noted for that. My daughter did not want a ‘push button’ horse. She wanted one that was as spirited as she was.

“Knight had met his match. When the horse owners lined up with their horses for judging, he was ready and raring to go. The judges remarked that they had rarely seen one like him and had to physically confirm that he really was a gelding.

“Shortly after his second birthday, he was strong enough to ride. We fitted a saddle to him, and I led him on halter. My daughter mounted him, and I led them around the paddock. Before long it was clear that he would let my daughter Julie control him. He responded well to her voice commands. I’ve seen happy kids before, but I will never forget that look on her face. That grin literally stretched ear to ear. She and Knight were tremendous pals from that moment on; Julie did almost all of his training from then on. She rode him nearly every day and even won a trip to the State Horse Show at the State Fairgrounds. She wasn’t proud of her accomplishment. Rather, she was proud of him.

“When Julie went off to college at the University of Wyoming, I rode him as often as I could. We went down lazy trails through the woods near our home. Sometimes the branches hung down enough to swat you as you rode by. One of the most memorable times was in the winter after we had a pretty good snowfall. He loved to canter through the snow. Rocking back and forth across neighbors’ open fields, with the snow reaching up to Knight’s belly, we just kept frolicking. The tighter I forced my legs around him, the faster he would go. Knight knew I was safe on his back.

“He lived 34-and-a-half years. I learned a lot from him during that time. I will always love horses. My back won’t permit me to ride anymore, but I still communicate with horses when I can. We face eye to eye and nuzzle each other in a way that is special. It is like I’m still talking with Knight. Maybe I am.”

Mixed messages

LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud wonders: “Should I stay or should I go?”

The Permanent Family Record
Including: Please release me

Ramblin’ Rose: “Subject: Family matters.

“We recently had a family get-together of a dozen or so people — outdoors, and everyone vaccinated. I was happy to see a relative I hadn’t seen in person in a few years, as she lives out of state. Seeing her coincided perfectly with an earworm that I’ve had off and on for the last few weeks, and I hope that I can get rid of it now.

“This relative is a sweetie, and we get along very well; I was at her wedding 20-some years ago. She was beautiful, and the groom was nervous. The ceremony went off without a hitch (except at the end). It was at the reception that things unraveled a bit.

“As I said, she is a sweetie. But this was her big day, her moment in the spotlight, and she was determined to do it her way. As we sat down to dinner, there was the expected tinkling of a spoon against a glass, the classic signal for the bride and groom to kiss. The happy couple stood up and accommodated with a small peck. Then the bride made an announcement. She informed her guests that henceforth the couple would ignore the clinking on a glass. To get them to kiss, a table of guests would have to stand up and sing a song that contained the word love. She said this with a smile, but her tone left no doubt that she expected strict compliance with her edict.

“Our table of guests exchanged a few puzzled looks, as none of us had ever heard of this apparently new custom; perhaps we didn’t get out enough. I considered the stated criteria and suggested a song that we all knew. The other guests were not sure we could pull it off, but after some hesitation, we decided to give it a go. We did a quick review of the words and stood up.

“The bride looked up in anticipation. She had a small smile on her face, perhaps mixed with some well-deserved caution. Our family has a streak of mischief running through it, as she well knew. So, she shouldn’t have been surprised when we began to sing [Bulletin Board interjects: WARNING! Particularly Insidious Earworm Directly Ahead!]:

“My bologna has a first name:

“It’s O-S-C-A-R.

“My bologna has a second name:

“It’s M-A-Y-E-R.

“Oh, I love to eat it every day

“And if you ask me why, I’ll say:

“’Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with


“We got a few laughs from the crowd, and a somewhat disapproving look from the bride. But she and her hubby kept to the bargain and graced us with a proper kiss. Another table of guests came up with a similar song, but finally a group took pity on the now put-out bride and sang a proper love song. That was the end of the singing; I don’t think that this became a favored custom at weddings.

“The moral of the story: Know your audience.

“Check out the original version:

Fun facts to know and tell

Apropos of nothing (which is more than fine with us!), here’s John in Highland: “Subject: Time flies.

“In 1973, a new Sam Peckinpah-directed movie came out. The cast of ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’ included Bob Dylan, who created the soundtrack and actually played the part of ‘Alias’ in the movie. A singer named John Stewart (previously with the Kingston Trio) penned a song titled ‘Durango’ in which he detailed the true story of how he had been considered for the part of Billy the Kid, but lost out when Peckinpah chose ‘Rita’s Coolidge’s man,’ Kris Kristofferson, for the part.

“Kris and Rita married in 1973 but split up in 1980. John Stewart continued as a successful musician, his biggest hit being the song ‘Gold,’ on which he teamed with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks.

“Stewart died in 2008.”

Live and learn!

Twitty of Como: “Subject: It’s never too late to learn something new.

“I’ve been listening to SiriusXM radio in my truck. Channel 350 plays a fairly good mix of old rock and country music, and I’ve heard The Dirt Band (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) a number of times over the past week doing their rendition of ‘An American Dream.’ Love that song. Anyway, I’ve long thought the woman’s voice doing background vocals is hauntingly beautiful, and I’ve been left haunted each time it comes on.

“Years go by. (Can you spell procrastinate?) I finally got around today to Googling it to see if I could figure out who she is. Turns out it’s Linda Ronstadt. I actually have her at home, singing it on record and CD, which I’d forgotten.
I’m gonna go ahead and date myself here. I’m old. I’ve been a Linda Ronstadt fan since we were both young and in our 20s. I have a bunch of her albums that I never get to listen to anymore because my CD player is on the fritz, and so is my turntable. So I haven’t heard her for years. Plus, my memory is a victim of aging, too. So it’s refreshing to learn (re-learn?) all these years later that that young girl’s voice from out of the past can still come back and haunt me.”

Band Name of the Day: The Perfectly Acceptable Expletives

Website of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Dunno how to link you to this, but there is a wonderful video of the Gardiner Brothers dancing to ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ Gosh, do we need it, right now!”

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