Turning The Pages

By: Paige Cline

Something that Randy and I had in common was a love of history. Not the dry textbook versions of the Peloponnesian Wars ( not that they were not interesting) or some other date in the long history of the world, but the history of people who we knew or knew their children. 
When things slowed down a little at the paper, we would often talk of things and people that we found fascinating and interesting. 
One subject that seemed to surface over and over was Skin Fork–especially the old Skin Fork school. 
I missed the Skin Fork reunion this year( I find myself missing a lot more stuff lately) and I hate that. Within those people lives the memories of a wonderful place to live and raise children. And to visit 
I took Frankie to Skin Fork not long ago. Frankie was raised on Skin fork and his parents are buried there. As we negotiated the hilly, crooked road that brings you to the level land where the old school building still stands, I was reminded of the days when the building was alive with the children of the Fork. 
We knew many of the children who attended the old skin Fork school–the Coopers, the Stewarts, the Lamberts, the Workmans, the Bazzies, the Cooks, the McKinneys, the Brooks family and many others There is a closeness in those old one and two-room schools unlike any other, especially the big, consolidated schools of today.
One of my last, and fondest, memories of the school is of a warm autumn day when I was driving by making a delivery for the company store. I stopped on the side of the dirt road and watched–and listened. 
All the windows and doors of the school were open and a cool breeze passed through the windows and doors. You could hear the sounds of teachers teaching and students earning. Fergie Scott ad Lilas Brooks were doing what small school teachers did. To be sure they taught the three R’s, and taught them well. But kids also learned or got confirmation of the morals that parents taught. 
I drove off that day with the sounds of ” My Country ‘Tis of Thee” coming from the classroom and echoing up and down the creek. Patriotism has more meaning sometimes 
Many success stories came out of the old school and maybe a few failures. One student would find fame by being the first soldier to die in the Korean War. You have to wonder if Kenneth Shadrick had ever heard of Korea before he was called to serve his country there. Yet he would be the first to die in that forgotten war.
Many, many children walked through the doors of that little school, but now, as Frankie and I were leaving, I looked again at the old building. The doors are closed, the wood is beginning to rot and the white paint is peeling. The old school is long closed. 
No more kids going in the front door. No screams and laughter at recess time and no rustle of paper bags being opened by hungry kids at lunchtime. 
As we drove away and I took one last look back, it was not hard to imagine that Fergie and Lilas were standing in the door, greeting their charges for another day of learning. If ever a place like the Skin fork school was haunted, it would be by good ghosts. And good memories.