The District Schools 117
We were all seated upon benches made of slabs — boards having the exterior or rounded part of the log on one side. As they were useless for other purposes, they were converted into school benches, the rounded part down. They had each four supports, consisting of straddling wooden legs set into auger holes.
The children were called up one by one to Aunt Delight, who sat on a low chair, and required each, as a preliminary, " to make his manners," which consisted of a small, sudden nod. She then placed the spelling-book before the pupil, and with a pen-knife pointed, one by one, to the letters of the alphabet, saying " What's that ? "
I believe I achieved the alphabet that summer. Two years later I went to the winter school at the same place kept by Lewis Olmstead — a man who made a business of ploughing, mowing, carting manure, etc., in the summer, and of teaching school in the winter. He was a celebrity in ciphering, and Squire Seymour declared that he was the greatest u arithmeticker " in Fairfield County. There was not a grammar, a geography, or a history of any kind in the school. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were the only things taught, and these very indifferently — not wholly from the stupidity of the teacher, but because he had forty scholars, and the custom of the age required no more than he performed.
The voters decided in town-meeting how much money should be expended for school purposes and how it should be distributed. Some towns apportioned it to the districts according to the number of families they contained; others according to the number of children of school age; or the money received in taxes was returned. The last two methods ^were very unfavorable to the poorer and more