Written History of Bert N. Whitney
One thing we studied was how to play the harmonica by ear. I can remember practicing as I walked to and from school each day. I also remember a times-table contest for the entire eight grades which I won and received one dollar–a real reward for the moneyless world of that day.
When Mrs. Tenningson finished her teaching there (either at the end of my third or fourth grade), I remember she asked me to stay after school one day. After everyone left the room, she called me to her desk and told me how much she would miss me. Tears were in her eyes and I didn’t know how to react, as very seldom was such emotion shown in my own family. The next years in the Paradise Valley School were enjoyable except for some unpleasant experiences of having my cousin bully me and pick on me for no reason that I could ever figure out.
My father had an opportunity to buy the Overland Cafe from my Aunt (Mabel McFarland) sometime before I entered the seventh grade. So our family moved to a house on South 5th Street in Las Vegas next to my Grandmother Nay’s home. It was right across the street from the school which I was to attend that fall. But the school building caught fire and burned to the ground before school started. Tents were erected on the play ground and used as classrooms while a new building was put in place of the burned one. I attended the 7th grade in the tents and the 8th grade in the new 5th Street School. The school work was not difficult, but I didn’t seem to have much incentive to excel.
It was an unhappy time for me because my father was gone long hours at the café and my mother worked there also. There was a housekeeper that came and helped care for us part of the time. I went to the cafe after school and washed dishes there. It was hard work but I received two dollars each day for a few hours work, and I really seemed to be well off financially, though the money slipped through my hands about as fast as I got it. I was glad when my parents gave up the restaurant business and moved back to the ranch before I entered the 9th grade.
For the next four years, I attended school at the Las Vegas High School. My mother drove the school bus which I rode much of the time. For a while I decided to ride my bicycle the eight miles each way so I could receive the $5 per month transportation allowance given for furnishing your own way to school from that distance. I stuck with it for the year, but had some miserable experiences with wind and cold, not to mention the sandy, gravely washboardy roads I had to ride on. I paid for the bike with the money I received but it was worn out by the year’s end so I ended up with only experience.
During those years, I was active in the Boy Scouts and seldom missed a meeting. I recall I was made scribe of the troop (63) and also served as patrol leader. I believe my advancement stopped at Star or Life scout. The badges and insignia are still in my possession.