My Mother Drove the Hack…What’s That?
In the first half of the 20th century, most country children walked to one room schools. Such was true for children who lived in Chapman, a small farming community just outside of Presque Isle.Eventually the one-room schoolhouses, which typically had been located in pockets of residences, began to be consolidated in a move to be more efficient in providing instruction to students. Sound familiar?
In the early 40s, Chapman citizens had approved the closure of some schools on the west side of town. The east side of town, where we lived, had two one-room schools, typically enrolling 15-25 students annually. In 1947, the smaller school was closed and the decision was made to convey students from that end of the road to the existing and newer Hodgdon School. My mother was hired to drive the kids from our neighborhood to their “new” school. Actually, my father was probably hired…but my mother was the primary driver.
Most women at this time did not have a driver’s license, but my mother did. And for 15 years, until the Hodgdon School closed in 1962, she made those rounds twice daily with our family car (known as the “hack” by all involved.)
From September through June, rain, snow, ice and whatever, by 7:30 my brother and I joined our mother in the family car, and drove through the neighborhood picking up kids to go to school. There were no seatbelts, big kids sat squished on the back seat and the front seat while little kids sat on their laps. Lunch boxes were part of the mix (no backpacks back then), and some years she had to make two trips morning and afternoon because there were simply too many kids to fit in the hack.
At some point the state required that a school bus sign be attached to the car. So we did. I didn’t care when I was a kid, but when I got my driver’s license and my “town” friends hooted when they rode with me in our family car with a school bus sign…I was some embarrassed! The Hodgdon School was the last one-room schoolhouse in Chapman. In 1961 Chapman became part of SAD 1, and the school was closed in 1962.
I suspect my mother was ready to hang up the school bus sign and have her mornings and afternoons to herself again!