Virginia Holtzclaw Cruse of Somerset was a teacher at the old one-room Black Lick School on Little South Fork Road in rural Casey County.
An article about the school that appeared recently in The Advocate-Messenger brought back memories of her first teaching job at the school.
Cruse had studied at Morehead University for 21⁄2 years and had an emergency certificate to teach by the time she was 20 years old, according to her daughter, Jerry Brock of Danville.
She “boarded” during the 1939 school year with Will and Lula Rogers who lived on the nearby farm later owned by Louis and Shirley Sheperson.
“It was customary for the new teacher to take turns boarding with the students,” she said. However, after the Rogers couple saw how tiny the young teacher was, they decided to have her stay the entire school year with them even though they did not have children at home.
Cruse remembers some of the last names of the children listed on the school census in 1939.
Cruse said getting teaching positions were very political back when she was young. She is from Lincoln County and recalls the superintendent promised that if she would teach at Black Lick School in Casey County for a year, she could have a teaching position in Lincoln County the following year. But the school official apparently changed his mind. After not getting the Lincoln teaching position. Cruse returned to Morehead for another semester, but did not return to teaching until years later.
At that point in her life, Cruse decided to become a beautician and went to school to learn the trade in Lexington. She worked for many years in Somerset where she married her husband, Eugene Cruse. They were married 56 years before he died in 2002.
She worked as a beautician until after their three children, Jack of Louisville, Jeffrey of Somerset and Jerry Brock of Danville, were born. She then began working as a substitute teacher in the Somerset Independent Schools and worked in a reading program at an elementary school until she retired.
During World War II, Cruse also worked for a while in a defense plant in California at the Cole of California Bathing Suit factory that was converted into a factory to make parachutes for the war effort.
She has made trips back to Black Lick, one in the early 1940s, when she was photographed in front of the school, and in the 1990s after the schoolhouse burned.
During the last trip, Shirley Sheperson invited Cruse and her daughter, Jerry, to her house near the school and showed them a painting Wayne Thurman did of the old Black Lick School.