Periodically I've been writing personal memories for my family so thought I’d share one commemorating my mother.
Mother was born in nineteenth century United States to educated conservative but progressive farm parents as our agrarian society was becoming industrialized. We had entered the twentieth century by the time Mother completed the 8th grade of school. The Great Lakes State where she lived required those students wanting to attend high school must first pass a specially designed competency test referred to as “the Boxwell exam.”
Mother’s parents encouraged their children who were so inclined to attend high school. She passed the Boxwell, went off to a town the long-horse-and-buggy days-distance-away from her home to live weekdays with a family in the town where the high school was located. In return for that family providing her board and room where she stayed while attending classes, she performed housekeeping duties in their home, plus her father paid them a small sum.
Interestingly, I was able to locate the Boxwell exam's questions in the Ohio State University Library archives. Here are a few questions with one I chose from each discipline an eighth grader was expected to have mastered. The student was offered ten question choices in each discipline from which they had to select nine to answer.
There were no yes/no or multiple choice questions as in many of today’s tests, often recorded on Scantron forms.
Grammar and Composition:
Analyze or diagram the following: Captain Nathan Hale, a brilliant and handsome young man came forward and said, “I wiLL undertake it.” His Last words were, “I regret that I have but one Life to Lose for my country.”
7,8,9,10. Spell as the examiner pronounces: Aviator, vigil, Brazil, courtesy, tapestry, grieve, candor, reverie, Japanese, merino, sterile, dissent, refrigerate, justice, suffrage, peppermint.
Write a short composition upon any of the following topics: "Raising Corn," "The Amazon Valley," "The Reciprocity Trade of the United States With Canada," “The Panama Canal" or "Our National Congress and Its Work of the Last Year."
Write a short selection of poetry or prose from memory as a sample of your penmanship.
Read for the examiners. (65%)
If ten men can dig a ditch 3.6 rods long, 2 feet deep in 8 days of 9 hours each, in how many days can twelve men dig a ditch 49 rods long and 3 feet deep if the days are only 8 hours long?
United States History including Civil Government:
What is a protective tariff? What is a tariff for revenue? What do you understand by the conservation of our natural resources?
Name the three divisions of the brain, and state the work of each division.
Click Boxwell's for a link to more details and questions if you're interested.
Mother spoke of having to memorize all 88 Ohio counties; learning Latin to better understand the roots or relationships to some of our English words, especially scientific and legal ones, but these may have been high school studies.
Following high school graduation Mother attended Kent Normal School (Kent State University now). She became a teacher after completing the then required two year program for certification. Subsequently she taught in a one room school house in her northern Ohio home community. The experience of teaching all age students through eighth grade together in one room was the practice of the day.
1920 was the first year in which women could vote in the United States following passage of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. My mother became 21 that year, enthusiastically voting in that Presidential election. She continued to proudly vote in all elections at every level throughout her life. She cherished educated voting as a hard won right and a citizen's responsibility for living in this free nation.
After meeting and ultimately marrying my father, they moved to a different area of the State where their family began. Consequently, her life took quite a different path from that in education due to a variety of reasons, including the later development of unexpected health issues.
Each year that I become older and closer to her age when she departed this earth, I increasingly think of matters I would so enjoy discussing with her now. This year’s election is one such topic, especially when I read this description of issues in that first 1920’s election in which she voted.
American Leaders Speak… “…politicians were arguing…Overseas there were wars and revolutions; at home there were strikes, riots and a growing fear of radicals and terrorists. Disillusionment was in the air…The debate between the nationalistic activism…and the global idealism…”.
My mother had a very positive outlook on life as she adapted to changing times and circumstances. She was loving and supportive of our family throughout my life as only a mother can be.