Written History of Bert N. Whitney
My mother tells me that when I was four years old, I would slip away from the house and follow my two older brothers to school and the teacher (Mrs. Williams) would hold me on her lap until my mother missed me and came after me.
The next year, when I was five, Mrs. Williams told my mother to let me attend school in the first grade, although the proper age was six. I really did enjoy this experience and found that learning to read was not difficult. I was very fond of the teacher and recall waiting by the trail on which she walked to school, to take her by the hand and walk to school with her.
We moved to Las Vegas the following summer, and I was enrolled in the South Fifth Street Grammar School (where a Federal building now stands) the following September. It was a drastic change from the eighth grade, one room school which I had attended earlier. I was glad when we moved back to Goodsprings later that year, where I could be with Mrs. Williams again. We moved from Goodsprings again after I finished the second grade to a ranch near Las Vegas. (When I graduated from the eighth grade, Mrs. Williams attended the ceremony and presented me with a gold tie pin.)
I remember my father, with my two older brothers and me, looking over the 80 acre ranch in Paradise Valley (approximately eight miles south of Las Vegas on the old Los Angeles Highway) preparatory to moving there. There was much excitement as we checked the three artisan wells which had been unattended for many years. The willows were thick and the cement ditches were full of moss and the water was running into the desert. The only building was a two room, two level house, with about a 12-inch step from the one room to the other.
We moved into that humble shack before school started that year. My father erected a lean-to kitchen on the north side of the house and later bought a large tent with a wood floor and rigid sides, which became a detached bedroom and was later built into a larger house with lean-to rooms on two sides.
During most of my years on the ranch in Paradise Valley, my brothers and I slept out of doors, the three of us in one bed. When it rained, we picked up the cotton mattress and quilts, put them on the living room floor and went back to bed. We stayed there four years during which time I attended third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades in a one-room eight-grade schoolhouse about two miles from our home. I walked to school each day with my brothers and later my sisters.