Thank you to owner Deb Schwartz of the Paoli Schoolhouse Shops & Cafe in Paoli, Wisconsin for hosting a book signing for my book, One Room Schools. The Paoli Schoolhouse was built in 1854 and a second room was added around 1900. It was last used in 1972 by the Belleville School District.
What was once a schoolhouse is now a wonderful shop and restaurant. For the holidays, it is decorated with beautiful, white, frosted Christmas trees along with lit snowflakes and wreaths in the windows.
Many folks stopped by to share a story or a memory. One elderly woman said she attended a one room schoolhouse with her younger brother. She noticed the karo syrup lunch pail I had next to me, holding bookmarks and business cards and commented that she used one just like it to carry her lunch every day.
Then, she whispered this story, as if not wanting to be overheard –
“There was a bully at school who kept stealing my little brother’s lunch every day. I just got so sick of it. So one day after school I followed that bully from the school yard, and got him alone with me. I took that bucket and whacked him with it good. He didn’t steal my brother’s lunch any more. ”
I asked her if the teacher found out. She winked at me and said, “No, that boy learned his lesson from me that day.”
Another couple talked about schoolhouses and how a discussion of a building can lead to many stories about family life from the past. The husband was so excited to have found relatives and information dating back to before Wisconsin was a state. His wife has also been searching for information about her family history.
She mentioned, “I had been hoping to find a card shark or a dance hall girl in there somewhere! All I have found are boring, hard working people…”
Book signing in Paoli – sharing stories, memories, hot apple cider, beautiful strolling carolers, delicious Christmas cookies, horse and buggy rides – what a great way to get in the holiday spirit.