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Recalls Duncombe School

April 22, 2012
Messenger News

To the editor:

I thoroughly enjoyed the March 22 issue of The Messenger with the article about Duncombe Elementary School, where I learned my three R's. I was there in the early 1930s, when Miss Foster was the principal, and Miss Hayes was teaching fourth grade. Other teachers were Miss Fox in kindergarten, Miss Tinkham in first grade, Miss Bird (no relation) in second grade, Mrs. Carpenter in third grade, Miss Allene Stowe in fifth grade, and Mrs. Williams in sixth grade. They were all dedicated teachers. Miss Foster always looked rather stern and did not put up with any nonsense. She kept a rubber hose in her office, with which she paddled the bottoms of troublemakers.

During the Depression years, from time to time the pupils would decide to have a "fruit shower" for our home-room teacher. Each of us would bring a can of fruit or vegetables from home, and then we'd hide the cans around in the classroom. When the teacher came in, we'd all shout "fruit shower!" and then it was up to her to find all the hidden cans. I'm sure the teachers appreciated our efforts, and we kids got an immense kick out of the excitement.

My family lived at 1602 Second Ave. N., and my brother and I always walked the four blocks to and from school, rain or shine. Of course, in the winter we were all bundled up, and one of my memories is that the cloak room always smelled like wet wool. We moved to Washington, D.C., in 1937, but my memories of Duncombe School never faded. When my brother and I make our annual pilgrimages to Fort Dodge, we always drive past our old home and Duncombe School.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the teachers at the school - past and present - for the long hours of work that they put into their job. Keep up the fine tradition.

R. Byron Bird

Professor Emeritus

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wis.



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