Hazelton Teacher Came to School for its Water

By Myrtle Telep
Originally published: August 1998, Weld County Past Times, Greeley Tribune

On a June day, 1937, I was privileged to march in the graduation procession at Colorado State College of Education for the purpose of receiving my bachelor’s of arts teaching degree.

It was a good feeling to know that I had finally finished 16 years of special work that I had hoped to accomplish.

It was a day of gratification interspersed with a bit of trepidation. Ours was a class that had felt the sting of the stock market crash of ’29, the Great Depression of the 30s, and the drought and dust bowl days of most of that decade.

We were coming out of college with information that the market for new grads was not very promising. It was up to each individual to decide how he was going to view the future.

I was determined to make my diploma work for me – as hard as I worked for it.

My family moved from Loveland in 1928 to the Ashton School District, southwest of Greeley, where my father had bought a farm in 1922. The Ashton district bordered the Hazelton district on the south.

Because of the proximity of these two districts, it was only an imaginary line that separated them.

Just before I had actually taken possession of my diploma, I had heard through the grapevine that Hazelton would be needing a teacher for the upper grades – come fall. The wheels in my head began turning, and I began sorting out reasons for applying for the job.

My first thought was it is close to home; secondly, it was a community similar to my own; thirdly, I didn’t have a car and the chances of getting one were slim and none.

Fourthly, I liked the setup of the school. It had two nice-sized classrooms separated by heavy folding doors that could be opened to form a larger assembly room. The two-room teacherage attached to the backside of the school made a five-day weekly home for the two spinster teachers.

Fifthly – if there is such a word – probably the most precious and priceless amenity the building had to offer was its connection to the city of Greeley waterline. To me, water has always been an especially valuable commodity.

Living in the Ashton community all those years, all domestic water had to be hauled from Greeley in a tank on a truck and put into a cistern. Even if your home was modernized with a bathroom, you were forced to use water very, very sparingly.

So, I have to admit that Hazelton, with its city water supply, really cinched the deal for me to apply for the teaching job.

Last, but not least, I knew I could enjoy teaching upper grades even though elementary education was my major.

So, in due time, I made appointments with each school director at his home and had a chat.

At the next board meeting, I was informed that the position was mine – starting salary $75 per month with teachers doing the janitor work.

As I indicated at the beginning of this writing, the Depression was still alive and well. But I was thankful and happy about my job – obviously, or I would not have been there for a total of six years.

I was never sorry about staying at Hazelton. It was a community made up of a lot of fine citizens.

When I taught there, Hazelton was in the county and was under the supervision of a county superintendent of schools.

We were served about every two weeks by the bookmobile. We had a traveling nurse who visited rural schools for checking eyes, ears and general health.

Baseball was our most competitive sport. We had a group of about four surrounding schools that had rival teams.

Sometimes a Union Sunday School minister would drop by in the morning to give us a good thought for the day. About once a week, both rooms would join in a singing fest of well known songs to help remind us of this great country we are lucky enough to live in.

Unlike today, there were no complaints ever issued by our citizenry.

Myrtle Telep taught for a total of six years at Hazelton and two years at Ashton before she became a mom. She and her husband, Samuel, were married in 1941 and had three daughters. Samuel, an attorney in Greeley, died five years ago. Myrtle is now busy being a grandma to five grandchildren.