May 28, 2024

Birthplace of Public Education

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I grew up in the village in the cottage behind the Old Post Office. My Grandfather, Carl Swanson, was the Postmaster for many years. I frequently do Google Maps flyovers to see how things have changed since moving far away 20 years ago. Often I remember my old schools, Palmer River, Anawan, and DR. My Aunt, Ellen Swanson, was in the first class at Anawan and I was in the last class. I find it a bit disturbing to see my old school, Anawan, vacant and possibly subject to being torn down. I have fond memories of the teachers there.

Maybe you or your family members never went to this historic school, but it seems to me that the town where free public education was first established in North America should show some respect, as has been done with the Hornbine school. My ancestors also attended that school (Pierce Family).

Has anyone written a history of the schools in Rehoboth? There must still be residents who went to one of these schools as well as the North and South Rehoboth Schools. It would be good if some stories could be compiled from these early 20th century establishments. Perhaps a request could be made to gather some of these stories as well as recollections of when theses schools were built.

Glen Longstreet

Anawan School

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  • Agingrider

    Our Mom, Barbara (Bliss) Coleman recently died at 99, her obituary is on-line here. She told us so many stories of growing up in Rehoboth. Toward the end of her life with her vision faltering, she wrote a number of emails describing what it was like. Certainly schools were a topic. Her grandmother, Cleora Perry Bliss, had been a teacher, her aunt, Mildred Waite, was a teacher and her father Richard Perry Bliss was, at one time, President of the School Board and also may have driven the bus. Here is her brief recollection,

    "I was born in December 23, 1923, and started school at 5 years of age . I went to the Stevens School, Tremont Street in North Rehoboth, where my teacher was my aunt, Mildred Waite. (Her mother, Cleora M. Perry had been a teacher before her, teaching at the old Perry School) At this time Mrs. Waite taught the first four grades. After my first year, the fourth grade was transferred to the Perry School. My first three years 1928 to 1931 were spent here at Stevens School. The school had two entrances; the girls' door and coat room on the right hand side, and the boys door and coatroom on the left. In between the two coat rooms was a storage closet for books, paper and school supplies. The teacher's desk was at the back of the school on the left hand side and the big old furnace that heated the school was on the right hand back corner. A small bookcase was on the right hand side near the furnace, where one could get a book and read. This was if your work was done and another grade was reciting their lessons. I remember that on the walls were a picture of Abraham Lincoln and Calvin Coolidge. In the winter, the PTA supplied cocoa, sugar and milk, so that the children could have a warm drink. The teacher instructed the older girls on how to use the hot plate and make the cocoa in the boys' coatroom where a table was set up. All our water was carried from a neighboring farm. Children carried the water jug with a spigot at the bottom and bail handle on broom stick up the road to the farm to refill the jug. There was a school bus, as children came from as far as the Attleboro line and the Taunton line. As I lived next door to my Aunt, i went with her and my two cousins in her automobile. At recess we played hide and seek, tag, jump rope, hop scotch, releavo, swun g on swings, abd shot marbles and aggies. The boys played ball in an adjacent field. (I believe at this time the Superintendent was a Mr. Whitman)

    After Stevens School, we went to Perry School for fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Our teacher here was Miss Kay Driscoll. I remember learning poems, and her teaching us the Virginia Reel on a grassy area in the "Y" of the road Here Tremont Street headed straight on to Seekonk and Pawtucket, and part of the "y" was an abandonned section leading towards Attleboro. The set of the school was much the same, though here the desks faced the coatrooms. Our school bus driver was Charlie Fisk, and we were let off at Four Corners, this being the corners of Homestead Avenue and Rocky Hill Road, about a quarter of a mile walk home. The American Legion each year gave a medal for best essay to be read Memorial Day at Goff Memorial Hall. I was a proud shy winner in 6th grade.

    For Seventh and eight grades we went to Anawan School--four rooms and up and down stairs!. As I recall there were two classrooms in the basement--and we changed rooms for classes!!!! We ate our lunch at tables and benches in the basement. Here we had a volley ball net, and I do not remember too much about recess. Upon graduation our theme was America then and now. I remember doing the "Forest primeval--this is America 1492". Everyone gathered daisies, and we had a thick daisy garland that entirely framed the stage. It was very special. The girls wore white dresses and we received our diplomas. It was 1937--next year High School--off to Taunton High.

    Tuesday, August 29, 2023 Report this


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