In 1935, Howard Newhouse began attending the Wedderburn Grade School with a dozen other children. The divided school had a classroom on one side and a playroom and woodshed on the other. Wedderburn is on U.S. Route 101, separated from Gold Beach only by the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge that spans the mouth of the Rogue River.
On the first day of classes, children arrived in new mail-order clothes, boys in loose-fit jeans with rolled up cuffs, thick cotton shirts, and black clodhoppers, and girls in pinafore dresses or pleated skirts.
Each morning, they pledged allegiance to the flag and sang the National Anthem accompanied on the upright piano by their teacher.
Students brought home-packed lunches of sandwiches and hot soup in hand-me-down Thermos bottles. At recess, Newhouse’s favorite game was “Kick-the-Can.” He enjoyed read-aloud stories about the Oregon Trail and the dangers pioneers faced.
In the eighth grade, Newhouse became the school janitor, earning $5 a month. He started the morning fire and after school wiped the blackboards, pounded chalk dust from erasers, swept the floor, and washed toilets and sinks.
The old schoolhouse still stands, divided into rental apartments.
Sources: Schroeder, Walt. They Found Gold on the Beach. Gold Beach, OR, Curry County Historical Society Press, 1999; Newhouse, Howard J. Rogue River Rogue. Wedderburn, OR, Howard J Newhouse, 1995.