Hopewell-Loudon: Up with the new, down with the old. It was in 1937, to combine Hopewell and Loudon townships for a school to replace one-room schools. The first levy failed, the second one passed. The Public Works Administration promised $90,000, providing the people of the district would approve a bond issue of $100,000. The school opened in the fall of 1939. We were kids coming out of the Great Depression.
We were thrilled to ride buses instead of walking the country roads in all kinds of weather. Eight shiny, new buses taking us to and from school. Inside toilets replacing the outdoor "Roosevelt toilets" a distance from the one-room buildings. There wasn't a place to wash your hands. The pump outside where you got your drink of water, a hole in the pipe when you would pump the handle, water would jump up.
Eight grades in the one-room school, rows of desks, a recitation bench before the teacher in the front of the room, a huge stove to provide heat. The older boys helped get the fire started and kept it burning. We did have a fire escape. We had very little playground equipment. We made up our own games. I can't remember ever having a discipline problem. I thought of our teacher as being old.
The first Hopewell-Loudon building was a dream come true for us poor farm kids, and the Bascom kids, too. The beautiful marble floors in the wide hallways, marble steps to the second floor, the inside toilets, running water to wash our hands, drinking fountains in the halls, gym classes on the beautiful gym floor.
Gym classes, I hated. We got our exercise on the farm after school doing farm chores. There was the cafeteria that was run by a couple of local ladies who put out delicious lunches for 15 cents. That was better than any cold sandwich in a lunch box.
The beautiful auditorium, as we assembled, we chose our school colors, scarlet and gray, the Chieftains, our alma mater and our fight song. We had a basketball team, we formed a band and made formations on the gym floor during halftime.
We were proud of our school. We realized and appreciated the sacrifices our parents, the land owners, the home owners made. Times were hard, a war was raging, young men leaving school to enter the armed forces; patriotism was high. We loved our community and our country.
The first graduating class was in the spring of 1940, with 13 graduates. In the spring of 1940, the seventh grade (my class of 1945) had 55 students, split into two classes, A and B. I remember a Good Friday morning, we assembled in the auditorium to watch a film of the crucifixion. School let out at noon. Can you imagine that today! Our generation has lived in the best of times.
Farewell to the first Hopewell-Loudon building. It was a gem!
Ruth Hoepf, Tiffin