Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Schoolhouse On the Hill

Schoolhouse on the Greenbrirer

October's deep blue skies and colorful leaves always make me think of this Carter family song. My parents, aunts and uncles, and most of my cousins fondly remembered their days in one-room schoolhouses, and this song evokes for me a sweet, second-hand nostalgia that seems entirely appropriate for autumn.

I learned this song from the Sara Carter's singing in the June, 1933 session in Rounder Records' "Complete Victor Recordings" series. I've not seen the original 1907 shape note songbook; these are the lyrics as I hear them, and I may have misunderstood some words. The imagery is unusually vivid for a turn of the century sentimental song.

The Schoolhouse On the Hill
Fond memory paints its scenes of other years,
Brings me their memory still,
And bright amid those joyous scenes appears
The schoolhouse on the hill.


     Oh, the schoolhouse that stands upon the hill--
     I never, never can forget.
     Dear happy days are gathered 'round me still--
     I never, never can forget.

There hangs the swing upon the maple tree,
Where you and I once swung.
There flows the spring, forever flowing free
As when we both were young.


There climb the vines and there the berries grow
Which once we prized so high;
And their ripe clusters glisten in the glow
Of rich October skies.


School was in session until the 1960's in this schoolhouse, although it is on the Greenbrier River, not on a hill. Some of the students came to school in boats. That must have made vivid memories.

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