Tribune Recorder Leader

Your locally owned newspaper

Interesting Snay School History

By Jackie Salowitz
Tribune Recorder Leader

The Snay School remains even though the students have long since moved on.

Snay School, located in Delaware Township, on Snay Road, Palms, is another school that dots the countryside, a replica of the days of old, most likely named after Charles Snay.
If the walls could talk, surely there would be lots and lots of stories to tell.
Gladys (Pohl) Flood was one of the many students that passed through the doors of Snay, in the early 1930s. Now in her late 90s, Gladys had Alma McCoy as a teacher. Three of her siblings also attended the one-room school, Betty, Eddie and Jerry. Gladys enjoyed school, remembering geography, spelling, reading and arithmetic being taught. She remembers that they had both spelling and arithmetic matches. At recess, they would swing on the swings and would also play tag.
According to the December 3, 1926 issue of The Recorder (thank you Bob Buhl) “We have a new scholar, Charlie Kerbyson. This brings enrollment to 50.” It’s hard to imagine that a one-room school could hold 50 kids, let alone one teacher being able to teach that many students.

Carved initials of students at Snay School. Bob Wolf is the current owner of the desk. Photo submitted by Bob Wolf.

My dad, (Gladys’ brother Eddie, and their sibling, Jerry) would have their lunches packed for them by my grandma. Head cheese was pretty common back in the day, and grandma would pack it in their lunches. Of course, Eddie and Jerry didn’t like it, and would throw it in the creek. Since they didn’t bring it home after school, my grandma assumed they were eating it and would just keep packing it in their lunches.
The Wolf family also attended Snay School, and Bob Wolf has a desk from the school. Engraved on the desk are many initials of the students. His grandpa, Bill bought the school after it closed, and then his dad, Carl. Carl told his kids they could take a desk, as long as his initials weren’t engraved on them. Carl also took one of the old chalkboards from the school, cutting and framing it into six pieces, one for each of his children. Bob’s Uncle Gaylord and his dad were the same age and the only two in their grade. Bob said that both would claim they graduated “salutatorian” of their class. Another of Bob’s uncles, Harold, even earned enough money firing the stove to buy himself a bicycle.

A desk from Snay School. Photo submitted by Bob Wolf.

Another generation of kids went through Snay School, including my four older siblings. They too, walked to school, but for them it was just a short walk. My brother, Ron, said that once in awhile he would get a ride on the handlebars of someone riding a bike. My sister Sue, more than anything, remembers being locked in the belfry. No one seems to remember just what she did, but evidently the teacher, Mr. Roy Russell, thought it was bad enough that she spent the whole day in there. Another student was put in there (according to another story) by the teacher, again Mr. Russell, but when he went to let him out, he “wasn’t there”. He had somehow climbed the bell rope up onto the bell. The bell is now long gone, as someone thought it would be okay to steal it. Sister, Sue, also talked about getting a good education, not just learning from the teacher, but the other students. She remembers blowing into glass bottles to make music, smelling certain foods and guessing what they were and tap dancing for a quarter.
As kids will be kids, Jerry Fisher had a brand new football that he took to school. So Don Kunze (another family that attended Snay) opened the door to the wood/coal stove, saying, “I bet you can’t hit this!” And of course, the brand new football went flying into the stove… Apparently, Jerry was a little mad that the door hadn’t been shut by Don!
Ralph Moeller also attended Snay School. He and Dick Kunze had the job of getting water for the school for drinking water. I’m not quite sure how the kids got that job, but my brother, Ron, also carried water, two containers full at a time. They would have to walk down the road to a family farm to get the drinking water. Ralph talked about a time when my sister, Sue was standing on a chair and another student pulled the chair from underneath her. Of course, she fell, and to this day has a scar on her nose, from where the coat hanger and her collided.
Matt Dreher also has fond memories of the school. He remembers Mr. Russell during pheasant hunting season lining up the kids on one side of the field and have them walk through, drawing the pheasants out, which he would then shoot. He would wave his hat, and the kids knew that he was ready for them to go through the field. Mr. Russell would also walk the kids to Dunlap Woods (about a half mile east and another half mile north of the school) where the kids engraved their initials with jackknives in to the beech trees. Those initials are still there today. A creek runs just east of the school, and Matt remembers Roy Russell taking them there to ice skate. But, it wasn’t all fun and games. Matt said, “He taught us a lot in the classroom, where he ruled with a yard stick and locked us in the belfry if someone misbehaved.”
Bob Wolf’s older siblings attended Snay School. His sister, Joyce was impressed with teacher Roy Russell’s beautiful penmanship, he would sign his name Roy E. Russell. He must have also had a nice head of hair, as the girls used to like combing his hair!
Before school each day, the students sang the National Anthem, the kids sat next to students of the same age. Students didn’t come to school with inkpens in hand, they used ink bottles that had a bladder of sorts in them. I was told that they made good squirt guns! Imagine trying to get that out of your clothes.
Teacher Roy Russell would bring potatoes in for the students, putting them on the stove in the morning, and they would be ready for lunch.
Snay School still stands in fairly good condition, and is currently owned by Joe Dershem. Schools in Sanilac County consolidated in 1952, with most of the kids that attended Snay, going on to either Deckerville or Harbor Beach Schools.

Students at Snay School (l-r): Not known, not known, Emily Abend and Ralph Moeller. Photo submitted by Jean Kunze.

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