OK readers, this is the kind of response/ideas I would like for you to send in. It tells a pretty complete story without any extras that don’t apply. Your help will be greatly appreciated and you will be given credit for the info you provide.
God evening, Mr. Winner
I see you are looking for ideas. Did you ever do one on the rural eighth grade graduation? I grew up and went to “town” schools so my memory is limited but I had cousins who grew up, attended and taught in rural schools. So these memories are merely those of a bystander. Wasn’t there a county superintendent and separate school boards in those bygone days?
I don’t know how they functioned but I vaguely remember hearing that. The eighth graders went to the county seats and took their “eighth grade examinations” and then there was the graduation day. Here the event was held in the city auditorium which was on the corner just across from the Baptist Church. It was a rather dress up day for the kids and as I recall the girls wore white dresses. My husband made the transition from knickerbockers to long pants on this occasion, I believe he said. There was a program and they did the whole nine yards. The building was pretty well packed out.
I was impressed but never celebrated moving out of eighth grade as far as I can recall. I don’t remember what day of the week so very seldom was able to go when my cousins graduated since we were still in school. And on top of it all, each year they got two full days off while the teachers attended “teachers’ meetings” in a nearby city.
There was also the “last day” dinner and program. A friend invited me and my four-year old son to share in this event. It was sometime in April just about 60 years ago, because those lucky kids got out of school earlier than we in town did. They were on the farm and had chores and so on to do what with spring coming on and summer just around the corner. So my son and I went.
The food was fantabulous. Later the kids went out on the playground. I had one eye on my son and as I watched him out by the teeter totter, he was also watching. That thing was built to last. The board was somewhat crude and large. It was heavy and someone let go and jumped off and the board came up and connected with my son’s chin. After we were calmed down and the pain subsided, he wanted out again. I went to the door just as everybody decided to get a drink. So they were working away at the water pump. Again my son was watching. And again he was whacked under the chin, this time by the heavy handle of the pump. After another calming session and with his face beginning to show the effects of the slaughter, he went outside again.
The attention now was focused on the very heavy gate across the entrance to the school yard. The kids were setting it in motion and riding on it. Again my son was merely watching. And sure enough, the gate came around and whacked him in the face and the bunging up job was complete. Time to go home for certain! He needed a little something more tangible to calm him and he got an off season gift in the form of a kid’s fishing rod from Lehman Hardware. which was downtown a bit north of the present Kansas State Bank building. It’s little wonder that those farm kids were pretty tough. The rural school wasn’t for sissies.
How about the box dinner. I very vaguely remember attending one in Butler County at Star school but It’s been too long. Were they money raisers? Sweeter to the taste than raising taxes.
Just a few thoughts although you may have done this. Dora Voth.
— Jim Wimmer is a local historian who writes monthly for The Kansan. Be can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.