Looking Back Aug. 7

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

It is that time again...time to go back to school. Here is a look back at things associated with education.

School bus

  • Wayne Works was founded in the U.S. in 1837. By 1886 (and perhaps even earlier) the company was making horse-drawn school carriages.

  • The early school carriages were referred to as school hacks or kid hacks.

  • In 1914, Wayne Works dropped a wooden kid hack onto an automobile chassis and so began motor school bus.

  • The seating on the first buses was around the perimeter facing the center. The door was in the back-a holdover design from the horse days as to not frighten the animals.

  • In 1927, Blue Bird Body Company and Wayne Works began building steel bus bodies. By the mid-1930s, nearly every school bus was made using steel over wood for the bodies.

  • Wayne Works was the first to offer glass in place of the standard canvas curtains in the passenger area.

  • In 1950, Albert L. Luce, founder of Blue Bird, developed a transit style design which evolved into the Blue Bird All-American, the most successful of all designs.

  • In 1939, national school bus design standards were developed, a part of which was the paint color. The "school bus yellow" was selected because it made black lettering easy to see. Officially, the color of school buses was National School Bus Chrome-now called National School Bus Glossy Yellow.

  • After World War II, smaller schools began to consolidate and the school bus business boomed with the babies. It was 1946 when the first alternating traffic warning lights were used on the vehicles.

  • The original rectangular sign with the word "stop" painted on it was replaced in the late 1960s by the octagon stop sign still used today.

  • Today, school buses travel approximately 4.4 billion miles each school year.


  • Although there was a time when it was so, today's pencils do not contain lead but non-toxic graphite.

  • A cabinet maker from Massachusetts, William Moore, made the first American wooden pencils in 1812.

  • Most of the first pencils made in America were from eastern red cedar because of its strong, splinter-resistant wood.

  • When at earnest work, it is said that author John Steinbeck used up to 50 cedar pencils in a day.

  • A #2 pencil can write approximately 45,000 words or draw a line about 35 miles long.

  • Pencils can write in outer space, upside down and even under water.

This'n That

  • The first box of Crayola crayons sold in 1903 for five cents. It included the same eight colors that are in a box today.

  • The average size of a paddle used for discipline, when children were still being physically disciplined in school, was 12 inches long, three inches wide and 3/8 of an inch thick, plus the handle.

  • The mid-1930s saw the first lunchrooms added to schools.

  • It was not until 1947 that the practice of segregation by sex ended in Atlanta.

  • Before the rubber eraser was invented in the late 1770s, writers used bread to erase their mistakes.

  • On average, workers age 18 and older without a high school diploma make just over $21,000 annually. For the same age group with a four-year college degree, the average annual income is just under $59,000.

  • Kickball, a favorite on playgrounds all across the country, was invented in 1917 as a combination of baseball and soccer. The game's original name was kick baseball.

  • Peter Jennings, Johnny Depp and Julie Andrews were all high school dropouts.

  • The oldest school in the United States is Boston's Latin School. Five signers of the Declaration of Independence graduated from there - Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Robert Paine, Samuel Adams and William Hopper.

  • During the Great Depression, a lucky school teacher could earn $40 for a five-month school year.

  • The famous "Dick and Jane" readers were first published in 1931. The primers introduced reading with only one new word per page and a limited vocabulary per book. In the Disney animated feature film "Tarzan", one sequence set to music features a book with a page that says, "See Jane. See Jane run."

  • Georgia's first compulsory school attendance law was passed in 1916. The law required that children ages 8 to 14 attend school at least four months per year. School attendance was not required if a child had already completed the fourth grade, was needed to work to help support the family, lived more than three miles from a schoolhouse or whose parents could not afford to buy books and/or clothing.

  • In 1969 the German company Henkel invented the glue stick after studying the "twist-up ease" and convenience of lipstick applicators. The product was released under the Pritt Stick brandname.

  • Project Head Start, a preschool education program for children from low-income families, began as an eight-week summer program in 1965. Part of the "War on Poverty," the program continues to this day as the longest-running anti-poverty program in the U.S.

  • In the cases of School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett, the U. S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Engel v. Vitale by ruling that "no state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord's Prayer be recited in the public schools . . . even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating . . ." The year was 1963.

From a country school blackboard in the 1920s, these phrases were used as writing practices as well as life lessons.

"Words spoken, like eggs broken, are hard to repair."

"Even a fish would not get hooked if he kept his mouth shut."

"Nobody stumbled into anything sitting down."

"A thing done right today means no trouble tomorrow."

All in fun

"Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog." - Doug Larson

" In the first place God made idiots; that was for practice; then he made school boards. - Mark Twain

""If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers." - Edgar W. Howe

"A good education is the next best thing to a pushy mother." - Charles Schultz

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover your high school class is running the country." Kurt Vonnegut

"Show and Tell is a device developed by grammar schools to communicate family secrets to 32 other families before 9:15 in the morning." - Roy Orben

"The human brain is special. It starts working as soon as you get up and doesn't stop until you get to school." - Milton Berle

"School teachers are not fully appreciated by parents until it rains all day Saturday." - E.C. McKenzie