The Kids Went to Jail
Palisade, Nevada (1920s)
By Terry Hickson

School days in Palisade, Nevada during the Roaring Twenties were unusual and, at times exciting because the schoolhouse served many purposes and gained worldwide attention as an oddity.

School, through the eyes and memory of the late Angela Zunino Avery, super Elko seamstress, meant going to jail, literally. Seventh and eighth grade students were housed in a building where the large front room served students and two small cells in the back room of the structure accommodated  local law breakers. 

Palisade school house jail.

So famous did the school-jail become Robert Ripley of Believe it or Not included it in his newspaper section July 10, 1931.

The building not only served as a school-jail but also as a courthouse when a traveling judge visited.

One time a body was found in the river so, with no place else to keep it, one of the jail cells became a morgue.

 "School with a corpse in one of the cells had a pretty potent smell," Angela recalled,"The teacher sprayed  cologne but it didn't help. We were awfully jumpy knowing there was a body back there."

Another uncomfortable and unnerving time disturbed students when a "drunk sat on his bunk and moaned and groaned most of the day."

Angela remembers the school room was heated by a pot-bellied stove which aided one of her brothers with a mischievous prank.

"My brother once stuffed the chimney full of gunnysacks which spewed out smoke-so we 'd got out of school. Another time he put black pepper on the stove and the heat on the pepper made everyone sneeze their heads off. I also remember the teacher didn't like garlic. We all ate half a dozen cloves of it, and the teacher let school out. Another time kids put teeth from a skull in her desk"

Palisade's school house jail is long gone. Memories remain among those few who recall their school days in the little railroad town.

Source: Angela Zunino Avery, Elko, now deceased. Photograph of the Palisade School - Author's collection.

©Copyright 2005 by Terry Hickson

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