Monday, March 26, 2012

Hiawatha Ground

       I went to a one room country school for nine years and left it in June of 1954. The next year in June of 1955 the school was closed. In 2006 a marker was placed on the original site of the school and a celebration was held. I was not able to attend the ceremony so I wrote a poem. This poem has been sitting around for six years as I was trying to find a picture of the building. 

This picture was taken in 1948 and shows an interior view of the school.  I am in the second row from the back , third from the left!
This shows a little bit of the weather beaten building and the class from 1947-48


Quiet earth lay covered by prairie grass and buckbrush ,
Meadowlarks,crows and hunting coyotes occasionally passed by,
Briefly visited by many spring blooms ,
And ancient quiet people who scanned the willows for big brown bulks ,
Of many life sustaining energies.
Dustyhorn, Bitternose, Whitefeather, Asqpace...

Suddenly, settlers appear to till the land
And put down roots of settlement
Which spawned wire fences , trails ,roads
And dwellings to house their families
And patient beasts of burden.
King, Clark, Minnings, Paul...

Then their children required an education
So a school house was  patiently planned
By careful applications to the powers of the land
Who controlled the many details of
Official school district formation.
Hawes, Weurfel, Winks, Rathwell...

So with patient effort acceptance was gained
To build a school with gifted labor
Borrowed money and volunteers who
Undertook the time consuming supervision
Which produced a shining building for the children.
Ingelton, Bushell, Taylor, Wildeman...

Years of care to run the school
Find and pay a teacher
Repair the roof and walls
Fill out the required forms and reports
For the privilege of keeping kids in school.
Barber, Johnson, Langille, Stevenson...

Quiet Christians gathered there
In the name of the Lord to sing
And pray and study God's word
Which supported their souls
And daily trials and tribulations.
Mehaffey, Ronald , Kline, Muir...

Years ground by with depression
Drought ,war and changes slowly
Came to settlers and their way of life
As some moved on to other grounds
To find an easier success.
Manke, Brust, Kabernick, Leggott...

The silent end quickly appeared
When only six lonely scholars filled the desks
And sad decisions were made
To close the Hiawatha learning center
Which had faithfully served quiet locals
Epp, Kreiger, Enns, Freisen...

Now, the ground sleeps deeply once again
Visited by passing hawks and goldfinch
Covered by annual snows
While the joyous shouts of children
And devoted settlers are no longer heard .
Red tailed hawks, ground squirrels, butterflies...

Ten former students and three former teachers.

The marker set up on the school site.


  1. What an eloquent and fitting tribute to the school and the land, Red! I am most impressed...and felt a part of the changes with each verse. Very well done!

  2. That's lovely, Red. You did a fine job of commemorating the school with your wonderful poem. It's sad when we lose such places but it will live on forever in your memory.

  3. Thank you Linda. I enjoyed writing the poem even though I'm not a poet.

  4. It's one of those piece of history that would easily make a book. Having said that , there would be very little interest in that little corner of the world.

  5. Red the photos you have are a real treasure, the poem is phenomenal and your post is filled with sentiment. You have some amazing stories to tell, do I sense a possible book in your future?

    1. There will not be a book. I have an idea but there's too much research needed and I don't have the time. Too many old photos are lost. my aunt has many old photos but by the time she dies no one else will know anything about them.

  6. I picked you out in the first picture, Red. I noticed that the second picture was taken the same day, and you are smack dab in the middle in the first one, right? What a nice poem and commemoration you have made to the Hiawatha House. It has come full circle, and I would never have known about it except for your blog. Thank you.

    1. Nice bib overalls I'm wearing! Yes I'' in the middle. In the first photo my brother is to my left. In the second photo mys sister is right in front. Thanks liking the poem, but i am not a poet.

  7. Very moving tribute. I would have loved to teach in a one-teacher school. The closest I came was as non-teaching Coordinator of a two-teacher community school in the 70s, where parents were actively involved in delivering a challenging curriculum. The experience motivated me to go back and get a B-Ed degree - and then two different education MAs. But no subsequent teaching jobs came close to giving the same satisfaction. So I went off to work in developing countries instead, on aid projects that trained teachers, developed textbooks and built hundreds of small one- and two-teacher schools in remote districts.

  8. My first year teaching was in a one room country school. I had ten students. That experience influenced me to stay in teaching.

  9. Beautifully written.... Such a lovely tribute!

  10. I went to an really old school. Only 7 children in my grade from 1-7th grades. I had huge anxiety attacks when I had to go to the 'big' school. My class now was 35 students from 8th through 12th.

    Little classes are fun.


  11. I was the only one in my grade from 4 to 9. When I went to high school we had one class of 23 with grades ten to twelve.

  12. Wow! Simply lovely! A wonderful tribute. I enjoyed it very much.

    1. Thanks. But remember , I'm not poet!

  13. Wow. Well done.
    We just visited hubby's old town. He was in an old school house, too!
    Lots of crazy memories. Old house, with no plumbing or electricity on his farm. So sad.

  14. Oh I liked you poem and the old photos! Well done Red!:)

  15. As I'm old, I have lots of old photos. I just have to get busy with the scanner.

  16. Lovely tribute to the school Red. I loved it.

  17. I enjoyed the Tribute , photos and poem you wrote.

    Well done. You don't have time to write a book. Where you going????
    Your retired Red. Don't forget.