On the day after Labor Day, 1935, first-graders eagerly or anxiously began their school day as the last group of students to attend the red brick, one-room schoolhouses located throughout Eden Township. When the schools closed in May 1936, the era of one-room schools ended and the buildings became treasured memories. The only two-room, two-teacher school was located in Melmore to accommodate the larger student enrollment in or near Township School No. 10. Grades 1-4 occupied the first floor, grades 5-8 occupied the second floor, and a tower bell summoned students.
Teachers in outlying areas assembled their students with a large brass bell. When the centralized school opened in September 1936, many teachers moved from their former schools to the new building. Ice-cold water in drinking fountains, flush toilets, a combination auditorium and gymnasium, a special music room, a playground with a slide and other playground equipment all were regarded as wonders to those who attended the one-room schools. On opening day, as school buses arrived with excited students from throughout the township, "town kids" made their way toward the new school with similar awe and admiration.
As second graders, we were divided and either shared Room No. 1 with first-graders or Room No. 2 with third-graders. After sharing recess, gym and music classes as resourceful second-graders, we began forming friendships that continued throughout our school years and beyond.
As second-graders, we accepted the difficulties, challenges and adjustments to this new, unfamiliar environment. Acceptance increased as third-graders in Room No. 2. We managed most confrontations and solutions with minimal adult guidance. Feelings of affection and respect increased as fourth-graders sharing Room No. 3. Separated again as fifth-graders, one group remained in Room No. 3 and the other group shared Room No. 4 with sixth-graders and experienced instruction by the only male teacher on the first floor. As a sixth-grader in Room No. 4, we shared the challenges and wonders of pre-adolescence. The Pearl Harbor attack increased concern for the safety of our country and its people. We joined in prayers for our servicemen and women and recognized the significance of the blue and gold stars displayed in so many windows.
As seventh-graders, the transfer to the second floor increased our involvement in school events and our growth as adolescents. We greeted the end of World War II with prayer and rejoicing and an increased appreciation for our educational freedom.
On a lovely May evening in 1947, we received our high school diplomas with emotions of relief and regret. We, who began our lives in the midst of the Great Depression and reached adolescence during World War II, emerged as positive-minded young adults filled with hopes and plans for the future. As the newest members of Melmore's Alumni Association, we shared fond memories of the beginning of our class unity in years gone by.
At the following two alumni dinners we shared a table with classmates and agreed on plans for a yearly reunion. In the summer of 1950, the class met at the home of Ruth (Hushour) and husband Clarence Dunlap. The midsummer gathering was successful, and all agreed to meet at the Dunlaps' home again in 1951. Thus began the yearly class meetings first held at the homes of members until a larger location was indicated by the arrival of classmates' children joining the gatherings. Tiffin's Hedges-Boyer Park was selected as a convenient location for the reunions.
These communal "potluck" dinners were followed with afternoons relaxing, reminiscing, discussing current events and enjoying family focused activities. The meetings were similar to those of extended families sharing joy, sorrow, triumph and defeat. As the children of these classmates grew ever closer to adulthood, the annual reunions became evening dinners for classmates, spouses and companions.
Time has taken four of our classmates and several spouses. We honor their memory as we continue the tradition which began with the first reunion of the class of 1947. Today, we find comfort and a sense of peace in the presence of those who shared memories of the class that remains united and continues the tradition of annual meetings that began 64 years ago.