Chesterfield NH Historical Society
Chesterfield NH Historical Society

Early School Life

After 1911, the town had three two room schoolhouses, Chesterfield, Spofford, and West Chesterfield. There were four grades to a room, no running water, “chemical” outhouses, and wood burning stoves. This lasted until 1951. One upper grade teacher in the early 1920s, shared her experiences:

faded picture of students sitting at desks 1920's Classroom

“We had about 20 to 25 pupils in each room. I did the janitorial work for a small fee. I started hot lunches, heated on the wood stove, in the form of chowder, soup, hot chocolate to go with the sandwiches brought from home. Children brought the wood in from the woodshed, and the teacher was responsible for making fires and sweeping the floor. Water was carried by pails from a nearby home with an outside pump. My pay for teaching and boarding plus janitorial work was $71.50 per month.”

 

West Chesterfield Grammer c.1919/20 - Before bell tower installed

Meanwhile, the students recalled some of their own experiences. Nooning (lunch) lasted an hour and wasn’t always sandwiches. One man recalled how his mother put a small hot potato in his mitten each morning. It not only kept his hands warm on the way to school but doubled as his lunch.

 

 

And there were memorable recesses. Wintertime brought out the toboggans and the rides got quite wild. From School #1 (West Chesterfield) a group loaded up and careened down Streeter Hill, continued onto Main Street and ended up on River Road, several miles from the school. In the process, the tobogganers badly frightened a team of horses pulling a big load. The driver shook his fist and
cussed at the lot of them. Obviously, something they never forgot.


Early dismissal, called a “short nooning”, has always been a student's delight. Clifford Chickering recalled enjoying quick swims in the Connecticut River on some early dismissal days before going home. However, such activities were strictly forbidden, and the guilty students were always caught. Punishment would be to sit in a small space under the teacher’s desk at her feet. Apparently, the adventures were worth it.

 

West Chesterfield School Orchestra 1939
Original e-mail sent out promoting a program and with this text
Microsoft Outlook - Memo Style.pdf
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