Friday, May 30, 2014

Schoolhouses and Space Travel

Pleasant View School joined Geary County from Riley County March 6, 1873 along with other property. Like many other school districts in Geary County, the boundary lines for the schools changed as populations expanded and new schools were built. 
Pleasant View shows boundary changes in 1889, 1892, and 1906. Regardless, Pleasant View served the families living around the Milford and Alida communities until it closed in 1965 with the unification of Geary County schools into USD 475. 
Geary County’s remaining rural schoolhouses closed for regular classes just weeks before the first US space-walk aboard the Gemini mission, June 3, 1965. Pleasant View School, located near Milford Lake, was one of the last schools to close, April 28, 1965.
Over the years before it closed, Pleasant View had 59 different school teachers and hundreds of children. This schoolhouse, which still stands between Old Milford Road and Highway 57, was sometimes referred to as the Dixon School or Half-Way school since it was halfway between Junction City and Milford.
Mary E. Pierce had a certificate to teach in both Riley and Davis, later Geary, Counties and she spoke of walking to Dixon School to teach from Junction City, and she taught at Pleasant View. Sources say that the school was referred to as Dixon school when it was part of Riley County and later became Pleasant View. 
The school actually changed locations several times in its early years. According to A History of Milford, Kansas, “two schools were in operation in Milford Township.” One of the schools was south of rush creek, about 400 yards west of the road from the Fasse-Adams farm. 
This school was moved in two sections in 1889 to a new location about ¼ mile north of the current Pleasant View location. In 1908 an acre of land was donated by the Neubers to build a new school and the school’s location was changed for the final time.
The present school building was built in 1909. When the school was built it lacked any indoor plumbing, even a dry sink. In 1956 Pleasant View was remodeled and redecorated which included running water and toilet facilities, and in 1957 new student desks were added.
Since it did not close until 1965 there are a number of local people who attended their grade school years at Pleasant View School and have fond memories of it.
Betty Cott Latimer remembered that one day sometime between 1943 and 1945 the students were outside playing ball when the teacher came running out and gathered the children.  She told them all that some soldiers had stopped to use the water pump and that one was a movie star. “There pumping water was a tall, handsome Ronald Reagan. Little did we know that for most of us it would be the closest we would ever get to a US President” (“Taste of Geary County” Bus Tour).
Bertha Ehm Gustafson was one of the Pleasant View teachers and she remembered, “I was teacher, counselor, coach, and janitor. Wood, coal, and cobs had to be carried in after school, the fire banked, cleaning and dusting done, all in readiness for the next day. All this for a salary of $5.00 per day, which wasn’t bad.”(Project Heritage, 172.)
What does all this have to do with space travel? Well, while there weren’t any famous astronauts that attended Pleasant View School there is an interesting juxtaposition here.  Imagine what most of us think of when we hear “one-room schoolhouse” and then think that Geary County school children were still attending class in single rooms, some without running water or flushing toilets, when satellites were first sent into space.  When Pleasant View and the other remaining rural schools ended classes in 1965 it was only a month before the Gemini space mission had Ed White do a spacewalk on June 3, 1965.
Do you have a one-room schoolhouse story or memory you’d like to share? The Geary County Historical Society is in the midst of creating a driving tour of our rural schools. We are looking for stories of your own or your family’s experiences to include in the tour. If you have an amusing, interesting, or important story you would like to share with us please call or come by the museum. You can also write it down and send it to us at 530 N. Adams, Junction City, KS 66441 or

Left: The first photograph of the EVA as Ed White backs away from the Gemini spacecraft over the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii. (NASA photo ID S65-30431)
Right: Pleasant View School 1909-1910 School Group