St. Luke Elementary School


Take a look at this building … take a good look with your mind’s eye. Can you see the children sitting at their desk with excitement on their faces, some with their hands raised to their teacher? They knew not to talk to their peers or to speak out of turn, for sometimes punishment would cause their hands to burn.

The time they spent in school was so very precious because there was so much else to do. Spring was planting season and fall was the harvest. Don’t forget the chores and the crops that needed to be chopped throughout the summer.

The children mastered arithmetic, learned how to read, write and to speak in an intelligent voice, enabling them to carry home knowledge to help their parents who never had the opportunity to attend school and learn outside the home. St. Luke Elementary School was an extension of the community.

Home, church and school were the the basic foundations for family structure. Community pride was the connecting force held together by the strong faith of the families. The process is continuing today, as the offspring of past generations venture out over the nation, taking with them a part of St. Luke Elementary School.

The doors are closed now after over a hundred years of service. The building is silent, sitting alone with memories of love, a humble smile that can only be seen on the faces of those in the community with ties there.

Editor’s Note: There are plans to renovate the school in the future.

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“Break Time”

 

  “BREAK TIME”

Farmers, I am told, get up to feed their animals and start their work at the crack of dawn. When the weather permitted, farmers and animals worked very hard. When I was a child, at summer vacation I would visit friends who lived on a farm. Being a town kid, I wasn’t allowed in the fields and my help was not appreciated because my skills were less than desirable. How do I know? One day, I had a chance to chop some corn. All of it, corn and grass, looked the same to me as I chopped. Let’s just say that ended my career of farming!

Break time was worth waiting for – a big meal, southern style, complete with dessert (molasses pudding). The farm animals were given a break too, and they were fed, watered and allowed to rest and cool down until the time came to go back to the fields. I can still see them with my mind’s eye, contentedly eating and lounging around the barn yard, enjoying their – BREAK TIME.

“Chowan River”

THE CHOWAN RIVER

This painting is from a picture of the sun setting over the Chowan River, taken by my senior citizens’ exercise class instructor’s husband, in their backyard. This river holds many memories for me. When I was a small child, my family, along with our Sunday school group, would have the annual picnic on the far southern shores of the Chowan River. The area was called Capart Beach.

As with many locals, we had our own names for the areas surrounding the community, right or wrong. The picnic was lots of fun and enjoyed by all, young and old, a time to relax and be ourselves. A picnic lunch eaten with a view so beautiful in the background was awesome. THEN, there was the bridge over the Chowan River!

My parents went to Elizabeth City State University, to summer school, while a new bridge was being built. Here I was again, on the floor in the back of our car! There was nothing, no railing on the four miles long bridge – only some steel rods. Every day, for eight weeks we went on that bridge, and thankfully, we made it!

The sunsets are breathtaking and can be seen and enjoyed by the whole area, adding calm and serenity for all to share. It still has its beauty, more intensified as time has moved on in the six decades of my life. It has much beauty in the day light hours, but when painted by The Creator at dusk and dawn, signaling the end of one day and the start of another, I’ll say, “How Great Thou Art!”

“Season’s Over” (Tobacco Barn)

This barn is located in Aulander, on highway 11, on the way to Ahoskie, a large town close to my hometown. It is one of the few tobacco barns still in use.

While passing through one late summer afternoon, I stopped to get a real close-up view, enough to let me paint the barn at a later date. When the painting was completed, I was reminded by a farmer that, when the trees are in full fall color, the tobacco season is finished.

I love to paint fall colored trees, relishing the thought that only the Divine Master can create such magnificent scenes in nature like that. Rather than change the trees, I called the painting   “Season’s Over” and showed the farm workers cleaning around the barn.

As a child, I used to ride with my neighbor when she went on her route collecting insurance from her clients in the rural areas. Sometimes we would join the farmers under the tobacco shed. She knew how to work while she visited. The farmers were very kind, but I’ll bet they were relieved when the town kids left! I was fascinated with the animals and loved the smell of the tobacco curing in the barn. I hope this painting causes someone to enjoy their “step back in time.”

“Hide and Go Seek”

My neighbor’s house and yard was the most fun in the neighborhood. Her yard had no grass, and was good for games of hop scotch and marbles, since there were no humps and bumps. She kept the yard swept and clean. Her broom was made from straw found on (drainage) ditch banks and on the edge of the woods. Brooms like this were also used to clean the floors of houses.

My friends and I gained a lot of pleasure from playing the game of “1, 2, 3 … red light!” but our favorite was HIDE AND GO SEEK. There were plenty of places to hide in my neighbor’s big front and backyard that was surrounded by plum, peach and pear trees that were full of ripe, juicy fruit in the summer and fall.

This was good, clean fun that required lots of physical and mental energy … just waiting to be released! Sometimes our dog, Blue, would give the hiding place away, trying to get a hug or be petted.

Thinking about playing “HIDE AND GO SEEK” brings back warm feelings, reminding me that what we do in our daily lives becomes memories that, later in our lives, enable us to “take a step back in time.”

“Once Upon a Time, Part Two” (The Barn)

Listen, with your mind’s eye, and visualize the scenes coming from the barn. Hear the cows mooing, ready to be milked. A few chickens scurry about, having gained entrance through the door that was left open, looking to find peanuts in the stacks of hay.

The farmer, going through the barn, making a mental list of chores needing immediate attention. I can almost smell the strong, earthy scent that was there at that time.

Memories, memories; wish I could talk to the people that once lived and worked there. The peanut fields are still in use. Harvest time for them; stacked up to dry the “old time” way.

Looking across the fence, seeing the old barn, not a human in sight. I think … ONCE UPON A TIME.

“Once Upon a Time, Part One” (Abandoned House)

Riding around the countryside, you’d be amazed to see so many abandoned homes. Each home has an interesting story to tell. In my mind’s eye, I can picture children playing the old, enjoyable games of yesteryear, while mom did laundry outside, boiling water to wash clothes in the big black iron pot that sat over a roaring fire.

Dad would chop wood to put in the “cook stove,” so mom could “boil the pot”, which consisted of putting collards (or salad greens), a piece of “side meat,” potatoes and corn meal dumplings (some called this “wet bread”) on top of the cook stove to boil until tender.

It is mind-boggling to think about how much work was done in one day, starting before sunrise and ending when it became too dark to see. Even the mule knew its way home!

Peace and love, along with strict moral values, were a must in most families. Oh, if walls could talk! The next time you happen upon an abandoned site, imagine the lives it came in contact with – and think of the history that happened there “once upon a time”.