Memories of school days and buildings long since changed
October 23, 2007
I hope you don’t mind if I stray away from Dayton history a little. Not too long ago, I attended my 60th high school reunion in Santa Rosa, Calif. It was the first time I’d been back for a reunion in 60 years. There were quite a few of my school chums still able to attend the festivities and I was happy to see them.
Sometimes time has a way of softening some old thoughts you may have had about people. When you’re young you, or at least I, didn’t think you were good enough. We worked very hard in those days to fit in and those people we envied then look a lot different now.
I’m glad I’m me. I had a fun time, and when it was suggested we do it again, I told them we better do it soon as none of us are spring chickens anymore.
In early Dayton, school was a very important part of the social activities in the community. In Emma Nevada Loftus’ diaries she made every effort to support the students and the teachers in Dayton. She always spoke highly of all the teachers, even the few that were controversial. When a teacher had a problem, she would be the first to say, “Poor soul needs help.”
Even though Emma didn’t have any children in school, she was always the first to volunteer. She and her son, Chester Barton, always handed out gifts to all the children in school and the little ones at home as well. They always gave the children Christmas presents.
She was up in arms when a group of mothers were trying to close the old school that now houses the Dayton Museum.
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The school had been open since 1865 and had no indoor water or restrooms.
She was very opinionated in her diaries about, “the very idea of them wanting to close the school.” But in spite of what she and many others thought, the school was closed in 1959, making it the longest-running school in Nevada.
The elementary children were then sent to the high school building (the recently condemned community center) and the high school kids were bused into Carson City. They only came back to Dayton after the high school was built across the river. Now we have three elementary schools, one intermediate school and a high school.
The old Dayton Elementary School, built in 1865 made a wonderful museum. I hope you will make an effort to visit our museum soon.
The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check the Web site daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.
• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.