Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The “Cooksville Journal”: Badfish and Blue Chicken, The School’s Student Newsletter from the 1950s

“Cooksville Journal,” 1955 cover

The one-room Cooksville School had its own newsletter—the “Cooksville Journal”— for a number of years in the mid-20th century. Written and published (mimeographed) by the students, the surviving issues contain school news, editorials, local village news, poems and jokes, even some cartoons and local advertisements.  A few copies from the 1950s and ‘60s are in the Cooksville Archives. Here are some excerpts:

September 1953

“Madison is trying to put their sewage into the Badfish. They were ordered to take it out of Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa this fall. Anyone who lives near the Badfish and doesn’t want to have sewage in their backyard and wants good fishing, should fight to have it put back in the Yahara.” [The Janesville Daily Gazette clipping told their story on April 10, 1954. Ed.]

Cooksville School Class of 1954
“Olaf Kloften is building a Tin Shop in Cooksville. He has been in business for about a year. He fixes furnaces and puts in new ones. His new building is made of concrete blocks and wood.” [It still stands on the corner of STH 138 and Dane Street. Ed.]

“There is a craft shop on Highway 59, in the barn owned by Marvin Raney. It is called Cooksville House and is operated by Marvin. He sells pottery, weaving, painted articles, pictures and a few other things.” [The Duncan House barn still stands on STH 59. Ed.]

“Arthur Kramer has an interesting hobby of making pottery. He uses some Cooksville clay, taken from the bottom of the Badfish creek. The clay is shaped by turning it on a potter’s wheel. It is fired and glazed in an electric kiln at a temperature of about 1923 degrees F. When the clay is fired, it is a deep buff, but when it is freshly dug, it is gray. Some of the things he makes are pottery mugs, vases, ash trays, bowls, and jam jars.” [Dorothy and Arthur Kramer, potters, lived in the Hoxie House; their pottery barn next door—the old blacksmith shop— burned down in 1956. Ed.]

September 1961

“We have been playing football lately and it is pretty rough even for the 8th grade boys. Rickey Olson had a mishap in physical education: we were playing the game “Cattle” and he got a bump near his eye. Then while we were playing football he got hit by his other eye so he went home with a bump near each eye. Permits are required for those of us who want to play football. We are going to learn to play soccer ball in physical education very soon.”

January, 1962

“Editorial: I’m sorry to say that this will be our last year of school at Cooksville. At the public hearing Thursday, January 11, it was voted that Cooksville School would join the Stoughton school system. The Janesville Daily Gazette had the following clipping about the meeting: “Cooksville School District in Porter Township, on the Rock-Dane County line, will become a part of the Stoughton school system next June 30. The Cooksville School has 25 pupils enrolled, and operates with one teacher…” I know we will all miss many of the exciting times we have had including parties, school trips, roller skating parties, and Christmas programs.”

April 1962

“A BLUE CHICKEN. The school recieved (sic) a chicken from the Cooksville Store. The chicken was dyed blue. We couldn’t study because when he chirped it made a loud noise. We had to have a name for him so we decided to call him ‘Charlie.’ We didn’t have him long before he died.”
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Cooksville School Journal cartoon, 1962

Later in 1962, after local school consolidation, the Cooksville Schoolhouse was sold by the school district to a local group of citizens, and the Cooksville Community Center was founded and incorporated as a non-profit, non-stock, charitable organization and the historic schoolhouse still functions as the center of community activities.

[ The Cooksville Archives has an incomplete collection of the “Cooksville Journal,” the school’s newsletter. Additional copies are welcome. Larry Reed]

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