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89-year-old woman remembers North Brook Elementary

Vevett Arthur spent 30 of her 89 years teaching at North Brook Elementary School, the school she attended as a child in west Lincoln.
Today she remembers the years spent in school and the changes that followed.

Born and raised a farm girl
Born and raised in the house down the road from her current residence, Arthur recounts her childhood.
“I was born in that house,” she said. “It was back then when the doctor would come out, even to see the children.”
The whole family worked on the farm and had help from farm hands. Cotton was the farm’s largest and most important crop, as it was on many farms.
“I’ve seen buggies lined up all along the road to see the cotton gin,” Arthur said of her father’s major purchase of the cotton gin.
Arthur remembers a time before tractors when everyone depended on plowing. She also remembers hard times during the Great Depression, but she says it never affected her family.
“We didn’t suffer like the people in the city,” she said. “We had our cows, chickens, eggs and milk. It was easy for us. All we’d do was take our eggs and trade it for coffee or other things we needed.”

School days
Arthur started school in a one-room school house named Bushy Pines.
“There were all these little schools in the area like that,” she said.
She and her brother, Tom, both walked down the road to attend school, holding their lunches.
“There would be a crowd on the road,” she said. “They didn’t have much traffic back then, just two ruts from the buggies and carriages.”
She remembers the potbellied stove in the little school house and the bucket of water and dipper at the front of the classroom. If students wanted a drink, they had to provide their own cup.
She left the school two years later when North Brook Elementary was formed.
“North Brook started a bus,” Arthur said. “We thought that was something wonderful. We didn’t have a lunch room, that came later.”
During the years at North Brook, Arthur recalls being out of school for an important season – cotton picking. Students would attend in both July and August and leave in September when the season began.
Arthur graduated North Brook in 1934 and attended Appalachian State Teachers College, known today as Appalachian State University. She spent two years becoming certified to teach.

Life as a teacher
When Arthur began teaching at North Brook, it was during a time when it was taboo for married women to teach.
Arthur did leave the school for a number of years in order to take care of her young children. She also took care of the family store and kept books at the cotton gin.
After her youngest child of four became old enough to attend school, Arthur decided to go back.
She renewed her certificate at Gardner-Webb University, went to North Brook Elementary and finished out 30 years of teaching.
During her time at North Brook, Arthur took on many tasks within the school, including balancing books and keeping track of money from the lunchroom and school store.
In 1974, six years before her retirement, she received a significant phone offer.
“North Brook called and asked if I would be principal,” she said. “But, I’d still have to teach.”
After debating back and forth and talking it over with her family, Arthur decided to take the job. She was principal for six years and she made a point of devoting as much time as possible to her students.
“I always told my secretary if someone needed me, to tell them to hold on and let me finish with my children,” she said. “You can’t start teaching something and then just stop in the middle.”
Arthur retired in 1980 and offers the recipe for her success.
“You’ve got to love children,” she said. “You have to if you want to be a good teacher.”

Living in the present
Today, Arthur is surrounded by her neighboring children and grandchildren and has a love for the outdoors.
“I mow my own grass,” she said. “Most of the time I like to do things outside as much as I can. I have my golf cart and go out around the garden.”
by Maribeth Kiser

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