READFIELD — One-room schoolhouses with outhouses may seem like part of the distant past to many people, but they were a fact of life for the attendees at a special school reunion on Friday.

Before Readfield Elementary School opened in 1955, the town’s children were educated at four tiny schools serving the different villages within the town. About 40 alumni of those schools, ranging from their 60s to their 80s, reunited on Friday to tour the town and reminisce over lunch and at a mock graduation at Union Meeting Hall.

“I have many happy memories,” said Peggy Pinkham Bouthot, 74, who lives in Mount Vernon. “I’m older now, so I’ve forgotten some of them.”

Bouthot remembers giving the farewell address when she graduated from eighth grade, standing in the same spot where she received her diploma on Friday. She said she was chosen because she had a loud voice and talked a lot, but she remembers being nervous when all eyes were on her.

All four schoolhouses are still standing. One is a shingled building near Jesse Lee Church in east Readfield, one is now the Readfield Historical Society, one is home to the town office at Asa Gile Hall and one is a private home in Kents Hill.

While most of the people at the reunion live in Maine, some were from as far away as Texas and Arizona. Dale Potter Clark, who helped organize the reunion, said the Nason and Cowperthwaite families were recognized for having the most people there.

The group sang a class ode to the tune of “On Top of Old Smoky” that was written by Robert Bishop, a member of the last class to graduate from the village schools. Readfield didn’t have a high school at the time, so most of the students went on to Kents Hill School.

Liz Piper King said she was so reluctant to go to school at first that her mother had to accompany her. When her mother tired of that, she was homeschooled. When King started her second year of school, another student coaxed her aboard the school bus.

“He said, ‘Liz, nobody is going to kidnap you while I’m on the bus. I’ll save you a seat,'” King said.

Mixed in with the memories was some humor.

“We had two outhouses, one for boys and one for girls,” said Carolyn Fogg Weeks, 79, who lives in South Portland. “The boys used to climb up and watch the girls. And the girls just had a hole in the floor.”

Brenda Boutilier Deojay, 73, said girls were just starting to be encouraged to play sports when she attended school at Gile Hall around 1950, and she was on a basketball team coached by Weeks. They played on the second floor of Gile Hall.

“People in town thought we would mess it up,” said Deojay, who lives in Fayette. “It was small. Every time we went from Readfield to play someone else, we didn’t know how to play on a big court.”

Deojay, who lived in California for a time before moving back to Maine, said Friday’s reunion was heartwarming.

“It’s a very good community,” she said. “We were very fortunate. We had good influences from a variety of people.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
smcmillan@mainetoday.com