Rural schools shaped lasting friendships

Don McAlavy

School reunions are fun to go to because you can see how much older your classmates have gotten than yourself.
My sister from Abilene and I will attend the Claud-Pleasant Hill Community Reunion at the fire station at Pleasant Hill from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 10.
My sister Mary Lou and I attended school at Claud up to 1944. Then we moved into Clovis. My older brother attended two years at Pleasant Hill. I expect our classmates from Claud will be outnumbered by the classmates of Pleasant Hill.
The community of P.H., which is about 15 miles northeast of Clovis, had a real church building, and a store. Claud had no real church building, nor a store at that lonely little school. You might say Claud was poor, and Pleasant Hill was rich. But Claud had more dust storms and less rain. Claud did grow the first wheat in Curry County.
P.H. always did have a better school, better school buses, and a bigger school that went all the way through the 12th grade. At Claud we could only go to the eighth grade and then be bused to P.H.
Claud never had a school annual, but P.H. had one called “The Chieftain.” The boys athletic teams were called “Indians” and the girls athletic teams were called “Squaws.” Claud didn’t have any names like that.
Claud did give P.H. some of the best athletes in basketball, softball, and track: R.C, Robert and Jack Porter, Bill Dudley, Hoyt and Buell Pattison, Dan and Buddy Holland and Gary and Sammy Chandler. They were among my classmates at Claud.
The girl athletes in softball, basketball, and volleyball that came from Claud and made a name for themselves included Billie Ruth Betts, Joyce Holland, Betty and Billy Roberts, and Florene Dudley. Pleasant Hill would never have fielded a team if not for Claud athletes.
There was no football at either school that I can remember.
I’ve got to brag some about P.H. Their school got started in 1906, about 10 years before Claud, but it was in a shack. The second school there was in a chicken house. In 1916 they built themselves a two-story frame school house. Claud only had a one-story school.
P.H. got a paved highway that went by its school. Claud never did get a paved highway in front of its school.
P.H. set a record in the early pioneer days when people came here to homestead. One of the families that settled northeast of P.H. had up to 80 members connected to the Singleterry line. I doubt if P.H. would have had a school without the Singleterrys.
Of course not all the Singleterrys chose to stay around P.H. A lot of them packed up and went back to Illinois. But those that stayed built good churches and raised good kids.
Then both schools were closed, about the same time.
P.H.’s last school year was in 1949. An evil scheme was hatched by state school officials to do a “consolidation” on the little schools. Heck, we didn’t know what that big word meant. Maybe P.H. knew what it meant, but those of us from Claud sure didn’t. 
We lost our friendly little schools and got bused to schools in cities miles away from our homes where we had to mingle with strangers. It sure was hard on our mothers. It was a sad day indeed.
When you have a good thing going, why change it? Little schools did a better job of teaching morals (right from wrong, is what we said at Claud) and we talked about God. We had our pledge of allegiance each morning and saluted the flag, and said our prayers in the classrooms. Big city schools don’t do that.
County school kids never got into big trouble like some of today’s school kids. We had good learnin’.
P.H.’s last graduate was Dorothy Winkles (Dudley). She was the last in line to get her diploma.

Don McAlavy is a history buff who lives in Clovis.