Monday, December 3, 2007
The School Hack, Corunna, Dekalb County, Indiana
Here is William C. Nessel standing by the school hack. William had the contract for running the hack. I don't know for which school or schools. Probably the Corunna schools and possibly the Richland schools. The hack was used before school buses. Can you imagine sitting in that on your way to school. Oh, how cold! Unless they had a little furnace inside. Some of those types of vehicles did have small furnaces run by oil, kerosene or wood. In Geneva, Indiana just inside the new town offices is an old postal carrier's buggy. If you go there in person you can see the tiny little furnace at the driver's feet.
And actually from this second photo it looks like it may have had a furnace. What is that in the middle other than a chimney. No names are given on the photo. The boy may be Winford Nessel, since it was his father who drove the hack. The girl may be Winford's sister Cordella.
Rachel Bard (nee Becker) once mentioned that one day on their way to school Winford was teasing other students and they got mad and tossed him off the back of the hack. Winford fell in the snow and had to run to catch up with the vehicle. His father laughed and just kept driving. I believe William Nessel was known to have a good sense of humor.
Update: I found a letter that I knew I had, but couldn't find earlier, explaining this school hack. Back in 1991 Winford Nessel wrote the following letter:
26 June 1991
Roy J. Reiman, Editor
5400 South 60th St.
Greendale, WI 53129
The photograph of the school hack on page 45 of the July/August 1991 issue of Reminisce is very much like the one my father used between the years of 1910 and 1925 in DeKalb County, Indiana. The school hack did not belong to my father but was owned by the township and the job of driving it was let out on a contract each year.
My father was the successful bidder for a number of years. The school hack route was about nine to ten miles long one way each morning and evening making a total of 18 to 20 miles a day. The lowest bid that I can recall was $1.75 per day. Many years the bids for a route varied from $2.00 to $3.50 per day. Only one year during my attendance at grade school was pop out-bid by a lower bid.
The stove that heated the school hack was designed for coal which the township furnished, but the fire had to be started with wood kindling which pop provided. As it had no thermostat the fire had to be stoked at least twice during the route. Despite this furnace we still had to dress very warmly during the zero degree weather.
Sometimes on a warm spring day some of us older and larger children would opt to get off the hack and walk a 1/4 to 1/2 mile before reboarding the hack.