A birthday trip to ‘school’
Florence Tallmadge, who turned 97 on Thanksgiving Day, used the occasion to visit the Hurlbutt Street Schoolhouse where she had once been a student. The schoolhouse operated from 1834 to 1935.
“Her family contacted the Hurlbutt School House Association asking us if it would be possible for them to bring their beloved great-grandmother to the school for her birthday,” Melinda Wolcott told The Bulletin. “What can you give a 97-year-old but [the opportunity] to relive fond memories?
“Twenty family members, including her daughter, Linda, and husband Jack Mitchell, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, arrived at the school with Florence, enjoying the school and reliving Florence’s memories of attending school in a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher teaching as many as 35 children from first grade to eighth grade,” Ms. Wolcott added.
A lifelong resident, Ms. Tallmadge ran Tallmadge’s Department Store in Wilton until it closed about 20 years ago. Her father owned a chicken farm at the family home on Sharp Hill Road, where Ms. Tallmadge still lives.
She told Ms. Wolcott it took her at least 20 minutes to walk to the Hurlbutt School, which she walked four times a day, going home for lunch at noontime.
“Even in bad weather she walked, as she said her father was very strict about her not relying on getting a ride to school!” Ms. Wolcott said. “Miss Angeline Post, who taught from 1918 to 1934 at the Hurlbutt School, Florence recalled as being extremely kind to her students. In cold, snowy weather, Miss Post allowed the children to stand around the wood-burning stove which heated the school to dry their clothes so they would not catch cold by sitting at their desks in wet clothes.”
Not every subject was taught every day to every student, but even so, Ms. Tallmadge said, Miss Post helped her skip several grades.
“When her great-grandchildren asked about the ‘outhouses,’ Mrs. Talmadge’s only comment was, ‘They were smelly and I tried never to use them!,’” Ms. Wolcott said.
“I had a marvelous time sharing the schoolhouse with Mrs. Talmadge and her family. It was a bright, sunny day, though cool, so we kept Florence in a chair with one of the schoolhouse crocheted blankets around her. It was priceless.”