Stephen F. Austin State University

Waskom School - Pilgrim Rest Community (October 2012)

Waskom School
By Elaine Bay

Mr. Sam Waskom gave land for the school building to be built on in the Pilgrim Rest Community; thus the school was named in his honor. The building built before 1870 was of logs with sawed-out windows and had three rooms with six foot fireplaces and split-log benches. As the school grew, a fourth room was added.

The outdoor toilets for girls and boys were on separate corners of the playground. There was a deep well in front of the schoolhouse; and a large bucket and dipper were kept in each classroom. Everybody drank out of the same dipper.

Each room was heated with a large wood burning stove; the parents of the children who attended Waskom school set aside days in the summer to cut and gather wood for the winter's cold weather.

The school was about 1/4 mile from the Prospect Church. Everyone walked to school, some as much as two miles. The children usually had wet feet when they got to school because if there happened to be ice in the road ditch, they all tried to skate on it. Since the children had limited wardrobes and mothers only washed once a week, students would pull off their school clothes as soon as they got in from school to keep them from getting dirty.

Lunch was brought in a paper sack or a syrup bucket and were stored on shelves in the cloak room until hungry hands found them at the noon hour. The main course for lunch usually consisted of biscuits with a piece of ham or sausage in the middle. Other foods included in the home-made lunches were pickles, cheese and crackers, cakes, or tea cakes.

A little girl named Constance Fenter began the first grade at Waskom about 1921. She would teach her first year of a long career at Waskom in 1931. She married in December 1930 to Loyd Griffin. She taught 25 students in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades at a salary of $70 per month for a seven-month school term.

Constance Fenter Griffin, 2nd from left, played on the girls' basketball team while attending school at Waskom.

When the Rains County fair began all the comunity schools had a big part in the fair. On Friday of the fair week, all schools had a holiday so they could go to Emory to participate in the Rains County Fair Parade. The teachers and students gathered at the Emory schoolhouse and lined up according to district number for the parade. Students and teachers dressed up "top notch". They marched down the street to the courthouse and around the courthouse square. When the parade was over, each school had a booth displaying school projects in an empty building.

In the fall of 1936, for weeks there had been a fall promotion to have the Texas Centennial in Dallas, Texas, free. There was a special train put on just to carry people to the Centennial on that one day. Constance had about ten pupils signed up to go. It had been a pretty fall but on Friday night before they were to go the Fair on Saturday, it rained all night, so only about five of the students went to the Fair. The roads were very muddy but Loyd got Constance and the children to the train station. The train cost was $1.00 each. While visiting the fair, the small group from Rains County went to a show in the horse race track stadium, which is now the Cotton Bowl. The show traced Texas' history from the beginning to 1936. It was like a parade passing in front of the stand and a never-ending show of Indians and covered wagons. After a fun-filled day, Constance and her students got back to their homes about 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning.