Just a Stone's Throw
For all of my elementary career I had been a student in the Neosho School District. I began my attendance in the first grade at Field School. Mrs. Land was my first-grade teacher. After completing the three grades at Field School, I advanced to Intermediate School and sat under Mr. Allen.
There were no recesses at Intermediate, instead physical activity was provided by participation in a gym class which was under the instruction of Mr. Bud Powell. (This will become relevant later.)
From the very first day I rode the same bus and sat next to Steve Cook. Steve lived a mile north of me and was a year older, but he was my bus mate and friend. Two short weeks into my fifth-grade year, which was pivotal anyway because this was the year that one started changing classes with teachers that taught specific subjects, I was confronted with the news that we were moving.
The move was due to my Dad’s employment as the ranch manager for Breeding Oil Transport Company based in Tulsa. Hugh Breeding, owner of the company, possessed a ranch in Maysville, Arkansas. This ranch had around three hundred head of registered Polled Hereford stock and several hundred acres of land. While not a huge operation it did provide a huge home for the manager and his family, a home that did not reflect the size of the community or the school that I was about to attend.
I journeyed from a fifth-grade year with multiple teachers to a two-room school with the first three grades in one room and the fourth through sixth grade in another. Prior to my arrival, there were only fourth and sixth graders in the second room.
This school had recesses for all the grades and every noon meal was prepared by a cook that lived just across the road from the schoolhouse. They were home styled meals, fine food it was, with no institutional food to be found. Beyond the west edge of the school yard was a crop field which actually laid in Oklahoma. Maysville, you see, was a border town with an extraordinarily rich and violent history. Positioned in Arkansas with one leg in the Indian Territories, it had been a destination for many a notorious character. It was entertaining to watch certain “notorious” students cross that invisible plane and challenge the teachers from another state. A position that they had reason to believe would buffer them from retribution. It did not. It was just a stone’s throw from the schoolhouse steps.
I only had one year in Maysville. Completed the fifth grade and then we moved to our new home in Newtonia. I completed the remaining seven years of public education in the East Newton School District. When entering high school, the Triway Campus and the Granby Campus were combined, and I found myself back in school with Steve Cook. We had a few classes together. Steve now lives three miles north of me, immediately across from where my parents lived when I was born. Small world!
-Paul Richardson is the proprietor of In Sane Marketing. He also writes a weekly column, The Horse I Rode In On, for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser.