The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mountain View Mission School

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1984

Issue: September, 1984

mountain view mission school 1The Mountain View Mission School.(Editor's Note: The site of the Mountain View Mission School is located in the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Meadows of Dan is a crossroads community where US Highway 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway cross. Mabry Mill is north about 1.6 miles and Mayberry Trading Post is about 2.8 miles south on the Blue Ridge Parkway.)

Mountain View School days hold many memories for me. How I wish the old school house was still standing on road 764 across from Conner's View Church! As I share this story with you, I know that other people's memory will be going back to childhood days.

Mountain View was started as a mission school supported by the Methodist Church with the building being built in the early 1900's. It was the best equipped rural school in our area. I remember the library and reading almost every book there.

Generations of families attended this school. My mother and father went to this school as I did, years later. My first day of school stands out vividly in my mind. The little ones went and played with the older ones at recess. I remember a game called, "Double Tap" and I had a good time my first day.

mountain view mission school 2sA school Class in the early 1930's. Row 1: left to right: Frank Hylton, Anna Wood, Josie Cruise Belcher, Kermit Conner. Row 2: Lillian Helms Hylton, Jesse Cruise, Conduff Conner, Willard Underwood. Row 3: Ruby Handy, Myrtle Hall Belcher, Olive Conner Lovell, Audrey Belcher Lamb, Frances Pilson Underwood, Gracie Hall Hylton. Row 4: Annabelle Pendleton Boyd, Pearl Pendleton Hylton, John Conner, Carl Wood, Tommy Cockram.
Click on photo to view larger image.
Summers at Mountain View School were really lots of fun. We built playhouses all over the woods. The Conner's View Church has had many a game of "Antiover" played over its roof. Games like stealing sticks, dropping the handkerchief, Mr. McGregor's Cabbage Patch and red rover were played at recess and lunch. The old dirt road that ran by the school was an ideal place to play hopscotch, one of my favorites. Oh yes, I was good at marbles also. Sometimes we put boards across logs and jumped on them - one person on each end. This was loads of fun. Lena Conner told me there were a lot of chestnut tree stumps back of the Conner's View Church when she went to Mountain View School. They would put a long board across the stumps, stick a big bolt in the center and presto, a merry go round! She says they would lay over the board and go around and around.

Winters, when I went to school were fun also. There were lots of snow for snowmen, board riding down the hills and lots of snowball fights. Sometimes when it was snowing and I walked to school, my eyelashes would get heavy with snow. People are always commenting on my long eyelashes. Perhaps it was the snow. On really bad days, our parents would come and meet us, making sure we got home safely. Once, snow was over the fence posts and the temperature was very cold. That day Mom and Daddy wouldn't let me start walking to school. I cried to go and Daddy told me, "It's so cold out there, if you stick a nail on your lip, the hide will come off." I tried that and Daddy was right, the nail stuck to my lip and I cried some more.

Inside the school house on wintry days, we were cozy - gathered around the old wood stove doing our lessons. Sometimes we made a pot of soup. Everyone shared in the chore of carrying wood inside. The men in our community always made sure we had lots of wood.

A water cooler stood in the corner of the classroom. We made drinking cups of notebook paper. How many of you can still make a cup? The pump outside did not always work, so we took turns going down hill to the spring. This was fun, especially if the teacher let a boy and girl go get a bucket of water and he was your favorite boy friend. I had several favorites.

There was an auditorium at Mountain View and good times were enjoyed by children and their families. Plays and Christmas programs and Santa Claus were a joy to all. I remember getting a beautiful doll from Santa at a Christmas Program. Mission barrels were sent at Christmas and held stores of goodies. Once I got a chain necklace from a lady in Norfolk, Virginia. She put her address on the package and I wrote her a letter of thanks, and she wrote me back.

At Christmas we decorated all the windows and our tree was a sight to behold. There are so many memories that I can never get them all into one story!

There were living quarters upstairs for the teacher. Frances Pilson Underwood told me the happiest days of her life were spent at Mountain View. She taught there in the 30's. Mrs. Underwood specially remembers the kindness of the people in the community. They always kept wood, shared food and carried her places since she didn't have a car.

Mrs. Hazel Harbour enjoyed her teaching years at Mountain View. She remembers how hard the wind would blow, sometimes so hard the pictures would fall off the walls. One Easter Mrs. Harbour remembers a snow so deep you could not tell where the road was. Her sister and husband came from below the mountain to visit wearing their Easter outfits and had to leave their car and walk.

Once, the snow was so deep only one child came to school for two weeks and he finally had to stay at school with the teachers.

Miss Carrie Rangeley was one of my teachers and a good one. She hasn't changed very much over the years. She remembers one thing that was commendable about the children at Mountain View School. Once she had to go to Meadows of Dan with some of the children to be vaccinated for small pox. The ones that had already been vaccinated stayed at school with work to do. Several people told Miss Rangeley they passed the school and the children were doing their lessons. When she returned, most of the work was done. She also remembers the kindness of the people.

How many of you remember the old school bell? James Conner of Florida wrote me that when the school was torn down, he got the bell. Last summer he brought it to Mr. Fred Clifton, of Vesta, Virginia. Now the old bell is close to home.

As I drive by where Mountain View School was located, there is a field and cattle grazing. Often I look and can see the building, children playing, and hear the gong of the old bell. I'm a little girl again and so happy.

(A special thanks to an anonymous friend for the photographs of Mountain View School.)

It was impossible to get all my memories in one story. If anyone has memories to share about the school, you can write to me:

Ivalien Belcher
Route 1, Box 74A
Meadows of Dan, Va. 24120