Class of 1951

There were 36 of us graduating. We lost about a dozen girls who married early— usual in farming country. You can see the skewed ratio with 26 boys in a class of 36! Most of us were born in 1933 or 34, at the depths of the Great Depression.  . Even worse, at the second even worse portion of that Depression, as the gov’t ham-handedly made things much worse. Understandably we were a small class because of it.
When we began school in 1939 there was no kindergarten, so into first grade we went. Most of us were in NP the whole twelve years of school. A few kids dropped out for a year, and then came back to finish:
Lois Johnson got married out of 8th grade, it lasted one year, then she came back to high school a year later.
Lois Hillis dropped out a year for health reasons.
Curt Peterson dropped out after frosh year to support his family — then came back year later — as did Sandy Harrell.
La Vera Jackson (from NW 2nd) left for Caldwell Adventist Academy. I saw a photo taken in 1951 where she had graduated from Adventist academy and was now teaching there.
Joan Shurtz left for Boise Catholic school after 7th grade.
Phil Mowreader was a transfer student in senior year. Was only at school kind of off and on during the year. He was not in class photo.
The class size grew from ~36 in 1944 to ~48 when the county consolidated all the schools at end of WWII (7th grade for me), when the end of gas rationing and ability to buy modern school buses allowed incorporating outlying schools — ie Falk, Big Willow, Sunnyside, Emmett Bench, and Plaisted schools.

\Mountain View and Valley View had come into NP in early 30s.
However, it overloaded NP schools a bit. We had to make do, moving kids into the little gray schoolhouse. And we only had two buses. That meant having a flexible schedule of extra classes, and buses had to make two trips each. That forced one schedule to wait an hour until their bus returned. In high school we were also on a double shift with one iteration only having 15 mins for lunch, and the other 1:15 for lunch, and an extra hour class at end of day in order to absorb the overflow. It was generally easier for me to walk home (15-20 mins–2.5 miles) rather than wait an hour. So I opted for the short lunch hour and got out at 2:15.

All of the outlying schools had their kids walk, ride bikes or horses to school. Many did that in New Plymouth as well. We had a hitching log out back of the school for tying horses. The ground around it was like what you would expect a horse corral to be like.

In the beginning years, New Plymouth had the only high school between Payette and Emmett. Fruitland had not even begun, and it would take some time before Fruitland’s school was up and running once the town was founded. So many locals would come to New Plymouth for school, and then to the high school. Also kids from Faulk, and then Letha next door, also came to New Plymouth to high school. The Faulk school board paid the NP school board for them.
But, that statement is misleading because school in early days were often spread between Fruitland and NP. Many Plymouth-ites began farming in Fruitland area–then moved to NP. Some years old timers records show their kids went to Fruitland two years and NP two years. Some Falk residents bypassed NP and went to Fruitland. A lot of this does not make sense unless you realize that before paving, the road between NP and Fruitland could be hopelessly muddy. That made it easier for river families to use the road along the river and bypass NP up on the muddy bench.
During WWII it was very difficult to get teachers for the school system. We had many past retirement age, and some barely graduated from high school. Eddie Benjamin graduated from high school and began teaching 7th grade the very next year, 1944. He was my home room teacher.
As a junior in high school 1949— and as one of only two boys who had a B or better average, the superintendent “impressed” me (meaning shanghied or forced) to teach (babysit) on Friday afternoons. Fridays our football team played, or went out of town to other schools. The coach had to also be a teacher because they could not afford a coach — so had double duty. So instead of hiring a substitute for the last few hours of the day, they stuck me with the class. I was small for my age — only grew later. So here I was with 7th graders who some were big as I was!

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