to celebrate 150th year in 2012, area history included
(History continued from last week)
This dismal weather depresses most people but really the crops are planted and the grass is growing pretty good so I guess the good weather will still come for picnics, painting and the outdoor sports. This is the time when the farmers and others would gather around the old pot-bellied stove and talk weather. Back then most every business had the stove and would provide the platform for weather and political discussions. All the topics that have existed forever – kids nowadays, cars, farm equipment and of course good times and bad times brought on by the weather, bugs and other pestilence such as politicians were discussed and extended for the duration that the sun failed to shine. A day or two of sunshine would soon change the tone of the conversation and put everyone in a better mood. Then, as the weather got better, the people all got busy with the usual chores at hand, the stoves died out, and the windows opened to let in fresh air. Some wise man like Andy Seubert would say, “yes sir, I’ve been ranching and farming for over 60 years and in that time I’ve maybe had one year with total failure and then a couple more I had only part of a crop. Talking about all the good years makes more sense!”
The way we were and the way we are no hasn’t really changed all that much. All the way back to the time of St. Augustine when it was remarked, “It’s going to take a lot of prayers to save that boy!” I remember being told by my grandparents and again by my folks, “Life is pretty well what you make it!” I’m sure you all can recall some wisdom to that effect coming down through your family.
We really do have so much to be thankful for and so many good memories of people and events that have laid the background for the life we have today. Don Funke was retelling a story that came down through the Seubert-Jenny family and believe me, there are a lot of tales generated by that big family! As I recall, one weekend when the Jenny family was having a Sunday dinner some one lost the water bucket and it fell into the well. Anyway a couple of the older boys grabbed young Jake by the heels and lowered him headfirst into the well to retrieve the lost bucket! This tale has been repeated many times through the years, each time a little different, and has always brought out the humor when you imagine what went on!
Today with all the transportation, the T.V., and constant supply of entertainment, it’s hard to go back to when the news was a week or more old when it came up here. Some times quite a few days went by without talking to anyone else but family. Let’s put together a few of the things people did just to stay in touch.
Remember the basket socials? The picnics across the whole area? Most of all the town or church get-together? The kids would have 3-legged races? Sack races? The women would gather in clusters for the latest hot talk, later to be relayed to the husband at home. Back two or three generations – my oh my how things have changed! Back then it took a lot longer to go to church, what with a little catch up after and all. Local people with an outside connection were everybody’s friend and “if you heard it from Ramblin’ Rosie it was like gospel!” Hardly anyone had a daily newspaper and when they came to the area there wasn’t any local news. Anyone out there remember the big change when the telephone came? In, at about the same time as the “Electric”? Having “Electric” was being only halfway modern. When you had the telephone a whole new world opened up. It really answered the “Lonesome me” syndrome. The phone line never was communication between just two. Any news certainly traveled near the speed of light! Of course some were more adept with this new-fangled machine than others.
Remember some of ladies that served as telephone operators? “Number please.” In those days you got lots of assistance and not a zombie like voice telling you to push three or four buttons to make things happen. I remember the telephone office in Cottonwood being located in one of the lots below H & H Grocery near John Rooke’s office and Butler Jewelry Store. Near the 22 steps that led up to Dr. Orr’s office. I think two of the main operators were Hildegarde Holthaus and Dorothy Darscheid.
Another thing I remember is when the phones were hand cranked and somehow two shorts and a long rings the bell. I think the operators of most phones were on a two to six party line and sometimes when you called your girlfriend it took a couple of hours just to get through. Sometimes I thought maybe her dad didn’t want you calling his daughter! But just like today, where there’s a will there’s a way. You suppose this telephone is one reason so many girls went to the convent?! Once in the convent only one or two phones for 130 women! Of course there were rules that covered this I’m sure. One thing I’m pretty confident of is phone or no phone, veil or no veil, a lot of boys had a crush on their teacher. Anyone that put up with guys like me should have been instantly canonized! (quoting my Dad).
I think those days in the 30’s-40’s and early 50’s were a lot more meaningful because to go to school was a lot better than all the work left behind and I also believe that because of the teaching methods and the lack of adding machines and the pads and pods of today, there was, and had to be, more interaction between students and the teacher as well as better communication between students. In other words it was the nice dress and pigtail that set off the girl in the front row. Maybe if I was nice to her some of her smarts would rub off on me. When was the last time you heard that kind of thinking from “little Carl” today? I don’t mean to imply our kids aren’t well-taught. Our schools and teachers are great – they just don’t have the time to spend with their big classes and high-powered standards. The main point is how different school was now and then.
I remember one of the most used comments was “they (the older people) just don’t understand.” Well with all the new methods and ways that are used today if you don’t stay involved you just can’t keep up! This whole world truly belongs to the young people with their ability to push and pull buttons and stay ahead of the computer! Stop right here and just think how different it will be when the kids write their 150 year story!
The last three or four generations have seen many changes in everything around them except in the value of family and friends. Seems like most everything they see and do has been overhauled. We count on the people we are closest to for support and help in learning the new methods that keep us abreast of the new improvements. Like always we older folks have more time to think about the way it is. Every day I watch the next generation go by. Now the wife and mom is in most of the cars on her way about her job or taking care of family business. This traveling part has changed a lot in the last 50 years but marriage is, I think, more of a 50-50 partnership than ever. The people who believe in this equality find life a lot easier than back when only one drove the team. What I’m trying to say is that a lot of the new ways are really a lot better in most cases, than the old. Yes, in our lifetime, the value of the feminine partner has truly come into the open. This has been in the works all of the last 150 years but now it has become an accepted fact of almost all. To start with, in many cases, people knew who ran the show but if she was satisfied to let him think he did, others went along with it. Now it’s in the open! That’s the way it really is and I have my wife’s okay to say so! With us everyone always said, “Poor Jane.” Now maybe some of the sympathy will end up where it belongs!
I don’t think anyone will deny the importance that our school and home history has made in our lives. The memories of the teachers, fellow students, and the buildings themselves, and even the way we went back and forth will always be a big part of us. These memories will never die, not even when do, as they have been transcribed in every history book ever written.
Before the last of these schools are torn down, why not drive out and stir some personal memories. Ah, those were the days!
The next150-year committee meeting will be Thursday, June 21 at 2 p.m. at the Library. The 150-year story moves one. We have printed the files as they exist today. It is over 400 sheets of paper or 800 pages. We still have about another 50 sheets of paper to layout.
At this time the committee will be editing the 400-500 stories. The size of the book exceeds our wildest imaginations. The cost is yet to be determined. We will let you know as we do.
The old Ferdinand School which is currently being renovated. Photo by Don Hoene.
The old Cottonwood High School at about the time it was built, circa 1920.
St. Mary’s Church and School, when the school was being built in about 1908.
The original Monastery and first buildings used to house the Academy.
Stock Creek School located across from the Jim and Barb Remacle place. Photo by Don Hoene.