Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Teachers and Postmen

It’s interesting to me that out of the wide range of occupations available to us in the modern world many of us choose the occupation of our parents or grandparents.  I guess it’s what you grow up knowing and what captures your imagination when you are young. 

I knew from about 3rd grade that I wanted to be a teacher.  I suspect it had something to do with visiting my grandmother’s room at Pleasant Porter Elementary School or meeting her many former students who would stop us in the grocery store to say, “Your grandmother was the best teacher I ever had.”  My grandmother retired in 1962 but just the other day I saw a posting on Facebook reminiscing about Pleasant Porter Elementary to which one of her former students had replied, “Mrs. Smith was my favorite teacher at Porter.” 

Pleasant Porter Elementary School
My grandmother taught her twin sons and several of her brothers.  She transmitted her love of poetry to her students; my dad’s favorite when he was in her 6th grade class was “Horatio at the Bridge.”  She had beautiful penmanship (which she called Spencerian script) that was admired by anyone who saw it.  She helped direct the annual operettas and once said, “Give me a package of Denison crepe paper and I can make anything!”  She taught the concept of an acre by having her students lay one out on the school grounds.  She was written up in the Tulsa Public Schools newsletter for re-creating the Oklahoma Land Run with her students. Every year her 6th grade girls were chosen to wind the Maypole at the front of the school.  That was my biggest disappointment in moving from Porter to Park Elementary just before 5th grade; I wanted to wind that Maypole as a Porter 6th grader!

My grandmother monitoring the hall at Porter 
My grandmother became a teacher because her Aunt Emma was a teacher.  On the 1910 census in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, she is enumerated with her husband, Mr. Allen (William, but my grandmother always called him “Mr. Allen”) who was 31 years older than she, and her son Willie.  Her husband was listed as a farmer, and she was listed as a teacher at a “common school.”  She also taught at Paul Revere Elementary in Tulsa, which is no longer there but was located close to 51st & Lewis.

Aunt Emma Allen--Teacher on 1910 census 
My grandmother started out teaching at a one-room school near Collinsville, Oklahoma.  She taught at Dawson and at Lynn Lane.  She taught at McBirney Elementary in Garden City, on the west side of Tulsa.  She got her first job in the Red Fork schools by walking out in a field to ask Mr. Brooks, the school board president, for a position. He said that any teacher that would walk out in a field for an interview could handle a classroom and gave her the job. She taught for 30 years at Porter, mostly 6th grade, and ended up retiring with 43 years of teaching experience.

Now, my ambition of becoming a teacher never wavered, but as I traveled through the grades, sometimes the specific goal changed.  For example, in 4th grade I wanted to be a 4th grade teacher, in 5th grade I wanted to be a 5th grade teacher, in junior high I flirted with being a librarian, in high school I decided on speech and drama (with a side order of English.)  After 5 years teaching speech, drama, and English, I went back to school and got a librarian’s certificate, and that is where I have been ever since—36 years total.

Teachers from the Castle family include: my grandmother, me, and my cousin Cathy, granddaughter of Jessie Castle.  Cathy’s mother Ann is a retired librarian, and her sister Jayne is a school librarian.  My grandmother’s brother Warner was married to Ona Brooks, an elementary teacher and daughter of that school board president that gave my grandmother a job. Their daughter Linda retired from a career as an elementary and middle school teacher.

Postal jobs also run in our family.  Goldman Davidson Castle was the postmaster of Castle, Kentucky.  My grandmother remembered seeing the post office at the end of the long porch outside her grandparents’ home in Kentucky.  Later, G.D. Castle turned the postmaster position over to his son, George Turner Castle. 

When the family moved to Red Fork, my grandmother took the Civil Service exam and was named Postmistress.  At the time she was teaching near Collinsville and turned the post office over to her mother.  Florida Castle is listed in the 1919 Tulsa city directory as the clerk of the Red Fork post office; Fannie Castle is listed as postmistress.

Appointment of Fannie Castle as Red Fork Postmistress

1919 Tulsa City Directory showing
Fannie Castle as Red Fork postmistress and
Florida Castle as postal clerk 
My brother retired from 25 years as a postal carrier.  While working for the post office, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.  He now works for the Tulsa Public Schools!  His daughter is doing her student teaching in the fall.

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