The town meeting to build a school was held in the newly constructed Grubbs Mercantile. Ignacius Grubb has sold mule shoes, single sips of wildfire hooch through glass straws, and tobacco out of barrels since the first gold claim in Two Pan. And still these are the only items he carries. He claims he’ll offer more variety in dry goods as soon as wagons can get over the mountain. He gladly pushed barrels against walls and corked the whiskey straw as folks disputed the necessity of schooling.
THOSE ARGUING AGAINST:
“I need my boy in my smith shop.” Leander Dooley, best known for the distance he can spit and the speed he can hammer out a horse shoe, made a convincing argument. “The only book-learning my son needs is to add up 50¢ per shoe. 75¢ for ox.” This brought a mumble of complaints about the 12 pennies he charges to make an ax wedge.
Mrs. XX interrupted, waving a copy of McGuffeys 2nd reader. “We’ve gotten along quite well with my dame-school.” Many folks felt the two days a week she taught little ones their letters in her home was sufficient.
“My girls don’t need book-learning either,” added XX. “They need spinning and cooking lessons…and how to keep a house clean.” However, a few people added that learning a bit of writing wouldn’t hurt.
THE TWO ARGUING FOR:
Mrs. Patricia Woolsey, the most vocal proponent for the school took the floor, shaking off her husband’s last-minute clutch on her arm. “If I can’t get the whores out of Two Pan,” Mrs. Woolsey stood with a shout, “I’ll at least educate our children how to spell “repugnant” when they pass them on the street.”
At this point Big Opal, matron of The Sporting Palace, arose from her back-row seat, pointing her umbrella at Mrs. Woolsey. “ I’ll donate the land and pay the teacher’s wage for the first year, on the condition that woman never pickets or publicly slanders my girls and my fine establishment again.”
A silence fell over the crowd. Mrs. Woolsey stared, then finally gave a hair’s width of a chin nod and sat down.
It was agreed the valley-folk would build the school.
Clella Hackbert would be hired at one-cent-a-day-per pupil.
And each family would provide a cord of firewood to heat the school house.
The times…they are a-changin’