Rockdale,TX Class of 1965
Vashti Smith Green
January 19, 2001
Rockdale Reporter, Thur., 25 Jan 2001
Funeral services for Mrs. Vashti Smith "Miss Vashti" Green, 95, of Rockdale were at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22, 2001 at First Christian Church in Rockdale. Burial followed in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Rockdale. Rev. Charles Cox officiated.
Mrs. Green died Friday, Jan. 19, in Boerne.
She was born Aug. 29, 1905, in Milam County near Rockdale to Arthur Baxter Neal Smith and Willie Anthony (Hilton) Smith.
Mrs. Green was a lifelong Rockdale resident.
She began a 45-year teaching career at Nile, later teaching in a one-room school at Gay Hill, then finally teaching for the Rockdale I.S.D. until she retired.

She married Lee Green on Nov. 22, 1980.
Mrs. Green was a member of First Christian Church of Rockdale and Gideons International.
Preceding her in death were her husband, Lee Green in February 1981; her parents, Arthur B.N. and Willie A. (Hilton) Smith; two brothers, Arthur Smith and Shelby Smith; and a sister, Nona Dymke.
Survivors are four nephews, Shelby Smith, Dr. James Bruce Smith, Bill Smith and Vernon E. Dymke; five nieces, Pauline Richey, Polly Beachem, Nona Maxwell, Joyce Steinle and Jo Nell Quinton; also, eight great-nephews and 10 great-nieces.
Pallbearers were Shelby Smith, Bill Smith, Ollie Young, Fred Marshall, Billy Gest and Elmo Wilhite.
Rockdale Reporter, 25 Jan 2001
Vashti Smith Green
Rockdale Reporter, Thur., 20 Mar 2003

"Rural teachers ‘kept the fire going’ - Vashti Smith Green was nurse, counselor, ‘mom’ to students during Depression"

[Editor’s note: This story is a reminiscence of longtime Rockdale area teacher Vashti Smith Green, who died two years ago at age 95 after a 45-year teaching career that included 28 years in Rockdale schools. Author Nona Maxwell of Boerne is Mrs. Green’s niece. Mrs. Maxwell imagines her aunt during World War II, closing up the Gay Hill school as she prepares to teach in Rockdale.]

By Nona Maxwell

There was little to be done.

At last at her desk, gold-rimmed spectacles securely positioned, reddish-blonde hair shaped into a modest bun at the nape of her neck, two-piece cotton dress with brown leather shoes, plainest of plain, she rested primly without seeming to allow her full weight to rest on the seat of the chair.

Pensively, her eyes surveyed the familiar room and, without conscious effort, her mind wandered and rubbed against time.

She had discipline. That was why she was here. A record of good discipline had impressed the Milam County trustees and brought forth the offer of a teaching position at Gay Hill.

The contract specified a play presented at Christmas and at the end of the school year.

Unwritten duties, of course, included keeping the floor swept, building and tending fires as needed and pumping water from an underground cistern into a large wooden keg from which the children, using a common dipper, could drink.

The county superintendent would be expected to make an annual visit to the school.

Seventeen years had come and gone, the first four at the Nile school, about two-thirds of the way toward Thorndale from Rockdale. A simple, unpainted structure of two rooms, served grades one through eight. A first job.

After earning a one-year certificate at the end of an eight-week course of study at Summer Normal in Austin, she had not been fortunate enough to find a school that fall but substituted at Forest Grove for one month during the school term.

The regular teacher, Miss Nellie Stevens, had suffered from slow fever.

Taking again the same Summer Normal Exam, and receiving yet another one-year certificate enabling her to teach, she applied at Nile.

The acting board of trustees awarded her the position. She would teach primary grades one through four in one room while "Miss Iva Lee" would teach five through eight in the other.

She walked the three-quarters of a mile each day from Uncle Alvie’s and Aunt Kate’s and was paid $670 for a seven-month term. It seemed entirely reasonable.

She had discipline. Unruly farm boys, always wanting to fool around and play their boyish pranks, would not best her.

J. T. Sandlin, trying to coax his old hound dog in the door. "J. T., don’t do that, we don’t need a dog in the school house."

But he keeps right on. "J. T. Stand up and take your lickin’ like a man," advised Wesley Graham, already in the room and witnessing the going on.

The box suppers. Grand occasions. The entire community gathered around with all their offerings which were, in turn auctioned to the highest bidder as means of raising money to purchase needed school supplies–crayons, notebook paper, tablets and pencils.

Books, but little else, were provided by the state.

Mr. Doss once bought a box shaped like a turkey, beak waddle and all.

A smile played on her lips as she gently mouthed the words. "Mr. Tom Graham’s brother bought my box supper for $5."

But money became more scarce as the 30s drew on. The Nile school closed and the trustees asked her to transfer, along with two other teachers, to Gay Hill, a three-room schoolhouse.

Two other teachers. Stella and Moody, not thought of in a while. They had gone elsewhere in 1942 and left her with grades one through eight to teach alone. There simply hadn’t been enough money for three teachers.

Once more her eyes travel the barren room, now stripped of even the few pictures and posters she possessed, wooden floors swept clean, pot-bellied stove thrust obtrusively in front of a small stage upon which a bushel basket of apples had waited for takers during the winter months, windows open to the north to encourage the slightest breeze to enter in the late spring of 1943.

Remaining at her seat, she focuses on the student desks secured in parallel rows, each row designated as one or more grade levels.

Rays of memory refract into faces. Little Edna Dockall, a first-grader who cried for three weeks before becoming reconciled to be away from her mother. "What a trying time," she murmured to herself.

And little Clarence Eisfeldt. That cold winter day he had walked to school barefoot and they found him huddled up against the side of the school with tears frozen to his cheeks.

They had to build a fire to thaw the little fellow out.

Clarence and brothers. "I feel so sorry for the family," she thought. They lived up on the hill behind the school. Each would some day be thought of as a fine gentleman. Henry Eisfeldt would lay down his life for his country during World War II but she could not know this as she pondered the empty room.

Thoughts shift with a rush of shock and horror as a girl in the second row falls to the floor, hands and feet flailing the air, foam forming at the mouth, as students and the teacher look on in alarm and disbelief.

Young bodies crowd closer to better view but directions, given with a facade of calm, return them to their seats.

The seizure abates with a terminating convulsive grip and studies resume. Little yellow tea sets from Japan, bought at Stricker’s Variety Store and given to each girl at Christmas time, brought a grateful acknowledgment from that mother.

A slight movement of air and the sweet, blank face of 13-year-old Walter Stevens appears. As she tries to explain the concept of cause and result as it applies to the American Civil War, his mind absorbs totally the analogy of the building of a fire north of the school building, a spark from that fire landing on the roof and the school building burning to the ground.

She remembered well Walter quoting her, verbatim, on a test.

Remnants of spring float into the room through open windows and intrude with urgency upon her reflections. She must go. There are things to be done at home. Gay Hill School would be closed and she would now be teaching in town.

She lowered and latched the windows, gathered up the scant belongings at her desk and, without a backward glance, walked through the door, down the wooden steps and across the sandy playground to the Chevrolet waiting in the shade of a large oak tree.
 
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