Dry Fork School

There were two one room schools on Dry Fork. The first was made of logs it was located toward the end of the community on the East River Mountain side of the creek The second was frame and was located in front of Tynes Chapel. During segregation times high school students were bused to Tazewell county to the black high school in Bluefield. Integration brought the end to the one school house and Rocky Gap Combined School was integrated with few problems.

The following are excerpts from interviews about the schools. A small study of the schools and community can be found at Education and Dry Fork.

Martha Cobb is interviewed by her grandson, Vernon Cobb.

Fred and Estelia Saunders are interviewed by their great granddaughter, Kacelia.

Pete Ferguson talks about the frame school house.

Kacelia: Did you go to school at the old school house?

Fred: Yes, I was there.

Kacelia: What was the school like?

Fred: It was a log school house.

Kacelia: Did you have papers and pencils?

Fred: We had a paper and pencil and we used a primer and a slate board?

Kacelia: What is a primer?

Fred: It was what you learn your ABC's from?

KC: What about you Estelia, did you go to the old school ?

Estelia: I went to the old school. I can remember the first day I went to school, my brother and I rode a horse to school. I went to the eighth grade, that is the highest grade we could go to. We had fun playing ball, riding sleds, and different things.

Fred: We would have to go into the mountains and get wood for the fire at school. We had a pot bellied stove at the school.

Kacelia: Did you graduate from the eighth grade?

Estelia: I passed from the seventh grade to the eighth grade then we were thinking about getting married.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kacelia: Did you ever get in trouble when you were younger, Estelia?

Estelia: One time we had a school house. We all switched about sweeping the floor. We had a good broom and a bad broom. When it come my turn, and the partner's turn, well, she grabbed the Good broom and I grabbed the good broom. We fought over the broom.. After that everything was Al right. I won. I took the good broom away from her. In all my school days, That's all I ever got in to.

Kacelia: What was a good broom and a bad broom supposed to be for?

Estelia: When one broom wear out, you got a new broom and keep that old broom so you can have two brooms. One to sweep one side of the school and the other one to sweep the other side of the school. So we all had to divide up so we could get the good broom and the old broom---- and get the new broom so we could get through quick and get out of school.

Interview with Martha Cobb by her grandson Vernon Cobb.


Vernon: How many years have you attended the old school house down in in Dry Fork?

Martha: From first grade to eight.

Vernon: What were your teachers name?

Martha: She taught for so many years her name was, I can't think of her first name but her name was Mrs. Morehead.

Vernon: Morehead. White lady or Black?

Martha: Black.

Vernon: What kind of subjects did you study?

Martha: We had regular subjects.

Vernon: Like math and English?

Martha: Spelling, Reading and Arithmetic.

Vernon: During recess what kind of games did you play?

Martha: We played all kinds, but we didn't have recess, we had, I think an hour for lunch and we played softball. We didn't have recess we had a lunch hour.

Vernon: Did you observe any holiday's?

Martha: Yes

Vernon: Did you have anything like a Halloween carnival?

Martha: No, we use to have programs in the school for Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Vernon: What about May Day.

Martha: Yes, they had a May Day.

Vernon: What did you do on May Day?

Martha: What did we do on May Day?

Vernon: Yes.

Martha: Well we had to practice for it and we had a pole set up and each person had a different color ribbon, probably had some music and we would have to, I don't know if they call it plaiting but we would have to go in and out from each other like under, over, under, over, until they covered the whole pole all the way down to the bottom by the music.

Vernon: Did you also use the schools for like an auditorium?

Martha: We only had one room for every class, we did not have an auditorium.

Vernon: What did you use when you set up a play?

Martha: We had a stage. It was just a plain stage. That's where we had our plays and singing and whatever.

Vernon: Did you have any principals?

Martha: We just had one teacher and she taught all the grades, we didn't have one teacher for all the grades.

Vernon: You did not have buses did you?

Martha: No, we walked and when it got real bad and snow was on the ground people rode horses to school.

Vernon: During lunch time did people pack their food or did they cook it in school or bring theirs?

Martha: They brought their lunch.

Vernon: Did you ever have food fights?

Martha: No, you eat your food if you didn't want it you would carry it back home, you would carry like an apple or a sandwich or whatever.

Vernon: When you graduated did you have like any assemblies or speeches of such nature?

Martha: They had like some program and then you would have the class, I can't remember ever receive any certificate, cause it only went from first grade up to eighth grade.

Vernon: Ya'll didn't have any sports teams did you?

Martha: We use to just play softball and in the winter time when the creek would freeze over we would skate.

Vernon: Did you have any clubs or organizations like FFA and FHA?

Martha: No.

Vernon: Did you go on any field trips or senior trips?

Martha: We use to take hikes and do you remember me talking about a cave up in the mountain.

Vernon: Yes.

Martha: We hiked all the way up to that cave, and when you got all the way up the mountain where the cave you had to climb alot of rocks and we went up and went inside of it and looked around. It wasn't a real huge cave but you could walk back in it. When the chinkipins and chestnuts was ripe we use to go up and get them and that was about it.

Martha: The school was one room right, and you had seats on both sides of the school room and the teachers desk was in the front and the stage was behind the teachers desk.

Vernon: Did they have like those little chalkboard things?

Martha: Yes, they had the little blackboard, we use to have to do work on the blackboard, we didn't have a whole lot of papers and things, we did have some.

Martha: On the holidays we use to make decorations and put all around you know like for Thanksgiving, Christmas they had a program and a Christmas tree.

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