POTD: Feeling Old

Feeling Old
American Prairie Reserve, Montana
2021

Given there was no wood stove or other obvious source of heat in the Prairie Union School, it was obviously more of an interpretive recreation of what the school was like rather than an exact restoration. (If not there would have been some very frosty learning going on there in the winter!) That it was restored more to give the general feel of the school than it’s actual state would explain why there were only four desks in the building. Or at least I thought it explained it. It turns out that the school, which operated from 1943 to 1957, only had a total of 13 students total over the 14 years it was in operation. So it is quite possible that it never had more than four students in attendance at any one time.

Why title this image “Feeling Old”? Well, those desks look very familiar to me as I sat at the same or very similar style of desk when I was in grade school. I should note that I didn’t even start kindergarten until the year the Prairie Union School closed down, so I’m not quite that old.

4 thoughts on “POTD: Feeling Old”

  1. My paternal grandmother had some old desks that would have better fit the era of this one-room school. They were simple wood chairs & desks (no lids that opened). They were connected to each other: back of chair attached to “top” of the desk behind it. She even still had a slate tablet and pencil with which to write out lessons. I played with them as a kid.

    So I agree that this is a recreation meant to give a feel for a prairie school, not actually show one accurately.

    1. I’m thinking its quite possible that that style of desk was around in the 40s, or at least the late 40s so they could have appeared in this school then. But they do seem out of synch with a log cabin school though. When I was a kid, sitting at desks like these in school, I remember my folks had a couple of those old style desks you refer to. I’m not sure where they came from but my dad was a school superintendent in the small town where I was born so perhaps came out of the school there? And I remember seeing those old slate tablets back then too, back when blackboards were really black because they were slate.

  2. Surprisingly those desks don’t have ink wells. I remember having ink wells in the desks at OK. And I also remember when taking physics in high school there were ink wells on the lab desks that you had to avoid hitting when you were running carts over the lab desks.

    1. I remember seeing desks with ink wells in them but don’t remember if I ever sat in class at a desk with one. However, given I went to OK for half a year and the same high school as you where I also took physics it’s very likely I did. (That’s assuming that my memory is more forgetful than yours is imaginative!)

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