Thursday, August 19, 2010

A little fun, a little history

Bill went on vacation today, officially at O-5:50 a.m.  He planned to take off at 0-6 hundred, but beat the clock and figured he would get an earlier start.  He headed south and by now he has headed east on I-90.

He took his fishing gear with him, and when I asked him when he'd return, he didn't know.  So, I said, "I'll see you when I see you." 

What a way to plan a vacation---open-ended.

Well, Bill will be back home from vacation sometime this evening.  He just didn't know if it would be 18 hundred hours or even as late as 21 hundred hours.  We'll just have to wait and see.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill said he was going on vacation.  I said, "Thought you already went on vacation when we went to Texas and Louisiana."

To which he said, "This is a one-day vacation.  I'm going to Avery."

Bill and I both love history, just different topics.  And, it probably won't surprise anyone that Bill, the forester, has spent the year reading and studying every document, book, map, etc. he could get his hands on, dealing with the 1910 fires aka The Big Burn, which scorched an area of North Idaho, Western Montana the size of Connecticut.

Today there's a commemoration in remote Avery, Idaho.  Bill will be there.  He didn't want to be there when all the people showed up, but that's how it worked out.  So, along with the commemoration, he'll be casting a fly or two into fishing streams along the way. 

Ironically, I've got some fun and history planned for today too.  I thought about the fun aspect but didn't think about the historical aspect until this morning.  

Some family members and I will be taking Mother up to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch today.  She'll be experiencing her birthday present, a carriage ride along the Gold Creek countryside. 

Mother hates the fact that she can no longer ride horses; in fact, she hates thata lot.  So, I figured the closest thing to a horseback ride would be for her to take a spin in a horse-drawn vehicle.  Turns out Janice Schoonover and I agreed a wagon over trails might be a bit bumpy. 

So, Janice suggested their carriage.  It's beautiful, as is evidenced by the photo.  The vehicle is used for weddings.  Janice said they purchased it from a carriage maker in Canada.  

Our ride this afternoon will take us along the country roads around Western Pleasure, and that is where the significant history of a family nature comes in.  The plan is for Mother, Barbara, Laurie, Willie, Debbie and me to participate in the adventure. 

And, if I'm correct, we'll possibly pass by or near the site of the old Gold Creek one-room school house where Janice's mom, Virginia Wood attended school through the eighth grade.  Four of those years, her teacher was Iva Tibbs, my dad's mother. 

Three generations of family teachers who followed Iva could be on that ride today.  Mother worked at the old high school (now the Sandpoint Events Center) as a study hall teacher.  My sisters and I have been teachers, and Willie begins his second year in education Sept. 1.  So, I have a hunch we may talk about Iva and her days at the remote school house.

I wrote a speech recently for the Idaho State Delta Kappa Gamma Convention, and I'll leave you with a portion of it.  My hope is that this brief trip into the past will reveal one major reason why today's trip in the carriage will be so special for all involved.


Education:  A Family Runs through It---from Chalk Boards to Smart Boards

Marianne and William Love III (mother and son)

Address to the Idaho Delta Kappa Gamma Convention

June, 2010  -- Post Falls, Idaho

It’s a winter week day during the late 1930s in remote Gold Creek, northeast of Sandpoint, Idaho.  Virginia Hoffine takes off from her home on Meadow Wood Road, sliding along on a pair of homemade skis, fashioned by her father Paul.

She’s headed to the school house about a mile away on the Gold Creek Road.
If it were not winter, Virginia would be walking.  Along her way, she meets a few neighbor kids, including the Sylvester sisters, as she often does on this trip which she’ll reverse later in the day on her way home.

The school, built by neighborhood volunteers, includes living quarters in the back, an out house and a well.   Virginia climbs the 6-8 steps to the door, walks into a hallway and removes her coat to hang on a hook. 

Warmth from a wood stove greets the group as they proceed into the classroom where Iva Downing Tibbs will spend the day from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. working with Virginia and 15-20 other students from grades one through eight.
During the day, Mrs. Tibbs would have two short breaks from classroom duties while watching the students play at recess, each morning and afternoon. After school hours, she would split wood for the stove and do the janitorial work at the school, which also served as a community center where Gold Creek residents would enjoy dances and other gatherings. 

To this day, 70 years later, the image of Mrs. Iva Tibbs still remains clear to Virginia, now a matriarch to her own five children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

 “She was a little gal with her hair back in a bun,” Virginia recalls.  “She always started with the “Pledge of Allegiance” and a prayer.  Then we sang a few songs like ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat,’ ‘Are You Sleeping,’ or ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot.’   We always had a Christmas program and a program in the spring,”
Each day was very busy for Iva Tibbs as she supervised the learning of her Gold Creek students. 

“We all had our turn . . . she’d start out with the first grade.  During that time, the older ones were responsible for getting their work done.  We never had homework.  She met with each grade, and I was the only one in my grade all those four years . . . I would often be included in the grade ahead of me.  Later, Virginia spent five days a week living with a relative in Sandpoint, attending high school.

From fifth through eighth grade, Iva Downing Tibbs served as Virginia’s teacher at Gold Creek.  This Iowa transplant, also a mother of five children had moved to Gold Creek from Bonners Ferry after a period in the 1920s and ‘30s.   

While rearing her children, she taught at a one-room school at Meadow Creek, northeast of Bonners Ferry. Her husband William served as principal of the Northside School in Bonners Ferry, now a Bed and Breakfast. 

During those years, with Mrs. Tibbs as her teacher, Virginia would meet a new school mate, whose family had moved to Gold Creek from Colorado.  His name was Jim Wood.

Occasionally, Jim posed a discipline problem for Mrs. Tibbs.  Virginia and Jim both like to tell of one situation in particular.  It involved politics.

The Woods were Republicans, while Virginia’s Hoffine family were Democrats.  Jim hung around with Virginia’s cousin Charles.  One day a political discussion between the two turned a bit ugly.
 Mrs. Tibbs stopped the argument and tried to prevent further problems while holding one at the school house after school for a length of time deemed adequate for the other to walk home.  What she didn’t know was that the two quickly resolved their differences, one waited for the other, and the two walked home together after all.

For a while during Virginia’s schooling at Gold Creek, Mrs. Tibbs’ grown son Harold lived with her while recuperating with complications from a broken leg.  He would help his mother by gathering wood for the stove and would become friends with Jim Wood. 
Later, Virginia would marry Jim Wood.  They’ve owned hundreds of acres of land in Gold Creek ever since those days so long ago.  Part of their original ranch is now Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, run by their daughter Janice and her husband Roley. 

Virginia said Mrs. Tibbs inspired her to want to go on to school and become a teacher.  But at the time, she did not have enough money to attend college.  Eventually, the Wood family holdings expanded to a large area along HWY 95 north of Sandpoint.
On one corner of that acreage sits an adorable little red school house, complete with a bell tower.  The facility is owned and operated by Virginia’s granddaughter Stacey.  In addition, she has other granddaughters who are educators.

More follows in this speech, but this first segment fits today’s special carriage ride.

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