Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Town Monday: Mason Street School, San Diego

Have you been wondering where I disappeared to? Mostly just catching up on life. I handed I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS back in after another round of revisions. And I've been hanging out with friends, going on school fieldtrips, doing a couple of school visits, reading a bunch, defrosting my freezer. Like I said, just catching up.

However, it's Monday. And you know what that means: My Town Monday posts!

Down here in San Diego, we're approaching that most waited-for day of the year: the last day of school! What better time to bring you San Diego's first public schoolhouse!

Mason Street Schoolhouse (taken with my Blackberry. Aren't you amazed at how clear this photo is?)

Mason Street Schoolhouse is located in Old Town. The school was built in 1865 of uneven boards salvaged from torn-down buildings. The first teacher was Mary Chase Walker who was paid $65/month. On April 1, 1865, Miss Walker took a four-month steamer ride from New York to San Francisco where she was unable to find a teaching position. She heard there was an opening in San Diego and headed our way.

Here is Miss Walker's description of life as the first public school teacher in San Diego:

My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.

Miss Walker had about 35 students, ranging in age from 4 to 17 years. Students were rarely on time as few families owned a clock. The one-room schoolhouse was heated by an iron stove and was open for business 9am to 4pm, 12 months a year. Attendance plummeted to 15 after she invited a black woman to lunch, and Miss Walker ended up resigning over the controversy. She had been teaching at Mason Street for 11 months. Shortly thereafter, Miss Walker married the president of the school board, Mr. Morse. She became involved in the suffragette movement. She lived in San Diego until her death in 1899.

The schoolhouse was only recently painted red. The original color was that greenish shade of the door. (taken with my Blackberry)

Here are a few school rules + punishments from back in the day:
-coming to school with dirty hands or face: 2 lashes
-boys playing with girls: 4 lashes
-making swings and swinging on them: 7 lashes
-telling lies: 7 lashes
-playing cards at school: 10 lashes

Contact Info: 3966 Mason Street, San Diego, CA 92110, (619) 297-1183

Oh yeah, and it's free to enter. Inside, you'll find the original seats and desks.

Links to other My Town Monday participants are here on the official My Town Monday blog or on Travis Erwin's blog. Travis is this week's MTM host (thanks Travis!) and has an interesting post involving bones and the Texas Panhandle.

Lastly, please consider joining My Town Mondays. We'd love to hear about your neck of the woods. If you do throw up a MTM post, let us know at one of the links in the above paragraph.


Travis Erwin said...

No playing with girls or cards. Those boys had it rough.

laughingwolf said...

grats on the revisions... i know all will go well :)

Barrie said...

Travis: Isn't it weird that telling lies got less lashes than playing cards?

Laughingwolf: Thank you!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Wonderful post! lashes--ugh!

Barrie said...

Terrie, isn't amazing how times have changed?? Now, we're all warnings and yellow cards and red cards and phone calls home.

Anonymous said...

Oooooo - love old schoolhouses and the stories of life in the past. Nice post!

pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband went to a one-room schoolhouse in the fifties. It's still there but unused. It had a stove to heat it.

Sarah Laurence said...

And I thought my school was tough! Fascinating post. I love that the old school house is still there.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Nice to hear from you again, Barrie! Darn fridges now-a-days. Miss Walker would be thrilled about Obama as president. Very interesting post.

Barrie said...

Gabe: I agree. Miss Walker would indeed be thrilled about President Obama.

Sarah: The old school house is there and often visited!

Patti: Was that in Michigan?