April Fool!

April 1, commonly known as April Fool’s day, has long been an opportunity for children to tease their teachers. In an interview with a writer employed by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, Mrs. Sally Marlowe of Marion, South Carolina, recalled:

We used to run off in the woods on April Fools’ Day and stay till twelve o’clock noon come — then we would all show up to the schoolhouse. What you reckon they done to us for it? Kept us in school so late every evening that week till the moon would be shining bright enough to show us the road home.

The Skippers.” Sally Marlowe, interviewee; Annie Ruth Davis, interviewer; Marion, South Carolina, January 19, 1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

Old Heidelberg. c1905. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division
Rural School near Milton, North Dakota, 1913 Miss Margaret McKay, teacher external. Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection. Digital Horizons: Life on the Northern Plains External. North Dakota State University Libraries, Institute for Regional Studies
Interior of “little red schoolhouse.” Crossville, Tennessee. 1935. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division

Dr. Samuel Lathan recollected engaging in similar antics while attending “an old field school” near his childhood home in Fairfield County, South Carolina.

April the 1st was dreaded by most rural school teachers. The pupils would get inside and bar the teacher out. The teacher, who didn’t act on the principle that discretion is the better part of valor, generally got the worst of it. Mr. Douglass soon learned this, and, on April Fool’s Day, he would walk to the school, perceive the situation, laughingly announce there would be no school until the morrow, and leave.

Dr. Samuel B. Lathan. W.W, Dixon, interviewer; Winnsboro, South Carolina, June 28, 1938. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

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