# 1– The One Room School
The old school-house sat empty on the South Dakota prairie. The windows had been boarded up and no one knew what might still be inside. Grass grew under the windows and through the broken steps. Morning glory snaked up the side of the building and under the wooden sideboards. It had housed the laughter of school children for more than fifty years when the community decided to bus kids into Bischon, rather than continue to maintain all of the one room school houses in the country. At that time the Mid County School had only six remaining students; Don, Susan and the four Bochmann children.
Twenty years later Don found himself standing in front of the school flooded with memories; some good, others not so good. Several weeks ago he had purchased the property as an investment. He intended to salvage what he could of the building, if anything, and then demolish it. Next spring he planned to lease the land, along with the other forty acres he had purchased, to one of the local farmers.
A heavy wooden door secured by a padlock had effectively kept vandals out. The only hitch was that no one knew what had happened to the key. Don walked around the building several times before he was able to muster the courage to remove the lock from the door. He knew the door was salvageable if he didn’t damage it trying to get in.
Don tramped through the overgrown grass to his pick-up truck. He removed a hacksaw and a pipe wrench from his tool box. Before returning to the building he opened his cooler, pulled out his water bottle and drank until the bottle was nearly empty.
Returning to the door he carefully stepped upon the broken steps to make sure they would hold his weight. He placed the pipe wrench on the steps beside his feet. He applied the edge of the saw to the shackle and drew it back and forth hoping to cut his way through. He worked on the lock for a few minutes before he decided the saw was not going to work. He dropped the saw on the ground beside the steps and picked up the pipe wrench. He tightened the jaws of the wrench onto the body of the lock and twisted with as much force as he could muster. The lock snapped off of the door so quickly that Don had to grab the door knob to keep from falling off the steps. He removed the lock and opened the door.
An old wooden teacher’s desk still sat in front of the room. Eight student desks lined up in two rows of four each still sat solidly bolted in place. Don walked across the floor listening to it squeak. He remembered how those squeaks had made it impossible for him to sneak in to class after the bell had been rung.
Two pull down maps still hung at the top of the black board. Don pulled them down one at a time, first revealing the world map and then the United States map. He looked up at the alphabet in brightly colored letters hanging on the wall above the maps. An old globe remained in the corner under the window.
Don walked back to the student desks and squeezed into the third desk in what had been Row A. He was surprised to find two pencil stubs, as well as a long forgotten bag of marbles, still stored in a cigar box. When he removed the bag it slipped from his fingers. He watched as the marbles rolled down the aisle. He couldn’t remember how many times he had gotten in trouble for disrupting class because he had allowed his marbles to roll out of his desk.
Don lowered himself to the floor, recovered the marbles and replaced them in the desk.
The bookcase under the east windows still held readers for grades one through six. On top of the bookcase he found the flash cards he had used to learn multiplication. He lifted an old baseball glove and found the baseball that he had once thrown so hard that it broke the school house window.
As memories flooded through him from every corner of the room he said out loud, “Can I really tear this old building down?”
(The three words for this Wednesday are: muster, drank and hitch. Once again I have inserted the three words into the novel I am writing for the National Novel Writing Month challenge.)
#2 When I mentioned the three words for this Wednesday to my husband he offered the following use of the three words—a thought from his Navy days during WWII.
He drank too much and had to hitch a ride back to the ship, but was late for morning muster. He would have made it, but he was hanging onto the side of the bus when his cap fell off and he had to go fetch it.