exhibit in La Grange
focuses on teacher Carraco
taught for 41 years and her
scrapbooks are on display
Helen E. McKinney
(December 2010) When Ruby Carraco began teaching
in 1931, there were still one room schools in the county. Along with
a career that spanned almost four decades, she kept a scrapbook of her
experiences which is now part of a new exhibit at the Oldham County
History Center in La Grange, Ky.
by Helen McKinney
Oldham County History Center
will present the School Days exhibit
through Jan. 15. Some of the books
that make up the exhibit on the
history of schools in the county.
Carraco was born Dec. 25, 1910, to Howard and Sarah (Sallie)
Carraco and died in 2005. There were eight children in our family,
recalls sister Dot Carraco, Genealogy Coordi-nator for the Oldham County
History Center. The family grew up on a farm 21/2 miles from Crestwood,
near Brownsboro, said Dot Carraco.
Ruby and her siblings went to the Brownsboro school, a one-room school
house. It is there that Ruby finished the seventh grade before transferring
to high school in Crestwood. She graduated from high school in 1929.
The Carraco children walked to school until they attended high school
in Crestwood, which was too far to walk. In an oral history tape made
for the History Center, Ruby said, We had a horse and a surrey
because there were five of us going to school, so Daddy had gotten a
surrey for us to drive in. And we had a barn at school for us to keep
our horse in.
After graduation, Ruby went to Bowling Green, Ky., to attend Western
College for a year and a half and received her teaching degree in 1931.
She was lucky enough to get a school in Oldham County to teach in even
though, in those days you could teach without a college degree,
she said in the oral history tape. Ruby taught school while taking courses
during the summer months.
Ruby Carracos career is incorporated into a new exhibit at the
Oldham County History Center titled, Dear Old Golden School Days.
The exhibit opened Sept. 15 and will run through Jan. 15.
The exhibit chronicles the county school system, beginning with the
pioneer period and following its development through the 20th century.
There were once 15 one room schools in Oldham County, and the system
was consolidated in 1953. On display are texts, photographs, school
albums, oral histories, musical instruments, old desks, a section on
African American schools, and even a school house pump and outhouse
by Helen McKinney
school room items
are on display in the exhibit.
Artifacts of books and school items from a pioneer school
held at Hermitage Farm during the 1840s are included in the exhibit.
Visitors can take a public school eighth-grade exam given in 1929 for
students to take before entering high school.
During her long teaching career, Ruby taught at several different schools,
the first schools being one room rural schools. Her first teaching job
was at Brownsboro, which was heated by a potbellied stove in the winter
months. It stood in the corner with a big jacket around it that
would help throw heat over into the far side of the room, said
Carraco on the tape.
She recalled a stage about a foot high, where the teachers desk
sat. A recitation bench sat on the edge of the stage so the children
could sit there and be close to the teachers desk. There teacher
also had a good view of students sitting in the back of the room from
her raised desk.
The Brownsboro school was lucky enough to have slate blackboards. They
were so much better than these old cardboard boards that they have now,
she said. A bell hung in the balcony that could be rung by the teacher.
Ruby also had her own small hand bell that she would ring when the students
were to go out for recess and she often would go out and play
with them, she said.
When she began her second year of teaching, there were no positions
available. The school superintendent knew of a couple wanting a tutor
for their children, two girls ages 8 and 11.
This job in eastern Kentucky became one of her most unusual teaching
experiences. She was employed for a year as a private tutor for the
children of an L&N bridge repairman who actually lived in a passenger
car of a train. Ruby lived in half of a box car, while the cooks lived
in the other half. She had a bed, dresser and little coal stove.
She went on to teach at the Covington Ridge and Hebron schools, near
Westport and the Ohio River, and finally Buckner Elementary. Ruby had
to live with one of the students family while teaching at the
Covington and Hebron schools. While teaching at Covington she stayed
with Ruth Clifford who had two young girls in school.
When she taught at Hebron she lived with the Perkins family. I
always went home on the weekends. I didnt have a car, but my brother
would drive out and get me, she said.
Her next teaching experience came at Liberty Elementary. This school
was a big brick building containing eight or ten rooms. I taught
third grade in a small building behind the school. There was also a
Teacherage where I lived at Liberty, said Ruby, who taught at
Liberty for 16 years.
late Ruby Carraco
The Teacherage was a house next door to the school where
the teachers lived. The principal and his family lived downstairs, while
the singly teachers lived upstairs and had the use of a small kitchen,
bathroom and four bedrooms.
Ruby was lucky enough to be able to go home over the weekends when she
taught at Liberty Elementary. The house was owned by the Board of Education
and the teachers paid approximately $12 a month to live there.
Elsie Roberts is a former student who remembers attending the third
grade in the small building behind the main school. There was
a big round stove in the corner to keep us warm, she said.
As any third grader might, she remembers Ruby as being fairly
strict. There was a window in our room that looked out on a field with
horses in it. She would fuss at us for looking out the window.
In winter, the students had to play inside at recess time. While tossing
a ball, Roberts accidentally tossed it at the window and broke it. She
was terrified, as the principle was her mothers friend. But she
got through the third grade, as did all of the students, and even has
an autograph book that Ruby signed.
Roberts picture is one of many that are hanging in the exhibit
at the History Center. She labeled the exhibit very detailed
and said everyone at the History Center did a super job on it.
After her time at Liberty ended, Ruby taught at Crestwood Elementary
for 20 years before retiring in 1969. Although I would rather
teach just one grade, it wasnt too bad in rural schools, in the
one room schools, where you had all eight grades, she said.
One of her third grade students at Crestwood Elementary was Keith McDonald.
She was a good teacher, he said. Ironically, his mother
was good friends with Ruby. I had to be good in class, he
For more information about the exhibit,
contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
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