Students in Tracie Surridge's third-grade classroom at Burke Town School spent an afternoon with an amazing woman on Oct. 28. The students have been studying Burke History and how life in Vermont has changed. How better to learn these lessons than from someone who has lived 101 years of change. Lida Surridge (grandmother of Tracie Surridge's husband, Arnold) spent an hour talking about her life and answering questions that the children had about her life.
Questions about school, chores, houses and transportation topped the list. Children were amazed that there were no flush toilets and that someone had to "clean out" under the back house bathroom at the school and that they really did use catalog pages for toilet paper. It took a little while to get them to understand that there was no "porta potty" cleaning truck that came and sucked out the waste!
Another story that amazed the students was of Lida out picking berries and hearing a loud noise coming through the trees. They thought it was a jeep but it turned out to be a plane flying overhead. They had no idea what that was. "We didn't know such a thing even existed. We found out the next time we went to town and asked."
Lida grew up in Mud Hollow in Kirby. She told of going to get married in Lyndonville and riding the 8 miles in a wagon in January at 40 below. Stories of doing laundry by hand, attending a one-room schoolhouse that was smaller than the third-grade classroom and that there was no playground equipment at her school, were shared. She and her husband, George, raised 8 kids and farmed much of their lives.
"Gram Surridge" as all the kids call her is somewhat of a "rock star" with the students at Burke Town School. Many of them have met her at bingo in Burke, at Lyndonville fair tractor pulls, enjoying an ice cream at Ruby Lee's while out riding with Tracie Surridge or through the many stories Tracie has shared with them. The students have made cards for her birthday for the past two years and wrote thank you letters to her for her most recent trip to their classroom. Gram loved these letters as the kids told her which stories they liked best -- many were the bathroom stories!
"It's an honor to be here with you today." she started out. Lida had always wanted to be a teacher but circumstances in her life didn't allow her to continue past the eighth grade. On this special day, she got her wish and there was no doubt in the end that Gram Surridge had been a teacher!
"I'll come back whenever you want." she told principal, Stacy Rice at the meet and greet with staff after school was over.