In 1940, Arthur E. Skidmore wrote about the old South Bend School which was built in 1871. He went there as a student and, later, taught at the school, himself. His stories about how he managed to get to school from his home in the present-day Raymond area when he was yet a student (and to stay healthy while doing so) gives a refreshing insight into a young boy’s logic:
It may have been that the children then were immune to germs they knew nothing about. I think of this in connection with the exposure to which we who went to school in rowboats were subject. There were several of us who lived up the river. Leaving home in the morning before the sun pierced the winter gloom, we followed a trail over the hill and went down over the tideland where our rowboats were moored up a slough beyond the present Broadway. Every other week the tide was out. We were obliged to walk across the lowland to the mouth of the slough at the river’s edge. Here we took off our shoes, if we had any, and pushed the boat over the soft mudflats to the channel’s edge. The boat afloat, we crawled in, dangling our legs in the river to wash off the mud.
With a fair wind and tide, rowing was simple. On the other hand, if we bucked a head tide rushing against the prow, we exchanged places frequently, two of us often rowing an oar apiece to make headway. At the schoolhouse landing we fastened the painter and again waded knee-deep in the soft mud, this time carrying a can of tidewater with us to wash our legs in order to be presentable at the schoolhouse door. Very often of a morning when nearing the shore with our boats we were greeted with a shower of rocks, sticks, mud or anything else that could be thrown by a mob of unruly boys. We complained to Mr. Dodge about this treatment, but he said he had no jurisdiction over land and water.
Rain fell heavily in the late winter and early spring. We often were wet to the skin. There was no stove in the schoolhouse that first year, nor, of course, heat of any other kind. We were obliged to sit in our wet clothes all day long. So far as I can remember, no one ever lost a day of school on account of sickness. Perhaps it was just as well we did not know of germs.