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EARLY TEACHERS



Faith Burch Perry, in an article published in the 'Elma Chronicle' several years ago, tells of her teaching experience at Axford in 1900 or 1901.

I quote excerpts:

"I was to teach at Axford, the principal reason being that they paid the phonomenal wages of fifty dollars per month. This was an immense sum. Most districts paid thirty dollars, and even in town, forty dollars was good pay. But Axford was far off in the woods - eighteen or twenty miles above Hoquiam.

To reach it I must be aboard the "Lonesome Annie" ( or was it the "River Queen" ) at seven in the morning. The time required for the trip depended on how many log-booms we met and condition of the tide around New London. Sometimes it would take an hour to get past just one log-boom, which stretched all the way across the river. I do not know upon whose fancy or what ruling their opening depended, but there was nothing we could do but bide our time. Why the "Annie" tried to navigate the river at all is still a mystery to me. But I suppose she brought supplies to some of the camps.

After a suprising number of backings and turnings, waitings and wearyings, she at last came to port in New London about noon. There was nothing there but a boarding house and a warehouse. A formidable array of loggers was eating dinner. After they finished I ate mine alone.

The remainder of the journey, which was taken in James Sudderth's lumber wagon, covered twelve miles of steep hills through dense timber, and was made over a corduroy road. This road was made of split puncheons of varying thickness. Each step of the horses brought a new series of jerks and bounces. By the end of the journey every nerve and muscle was shrieking in agony.

I was to live by myself in a little shack in the Sudderth dooryard. I piled wild hay on the floor and covered it with burlap. I fell heir to a homemade bedstead left by the last teacher. Over its wooden slats I placed a tick of hay for a mattress. It was not a very comfortable bed, but when you are young and weary you can find rest anywhere. I think I was nineteen.

I had two rooms. In my kitchen was an immense old range which had once belonged to a logging outfit. It burned an enormous quantity of wood at one firing. I learned to use it only once a week when I washed, baked bread, boiled beans and cooked other food to last me through the week. At other times I cooked on the little box-stove in my bedroom. There was nothing to be seen from my windows but woods, dark, gloomy, and forbidding. I was practically in prison.