A memorial to a country schoolhouseHarlan Schuneman sat at his desk in a senior college classroom and thought about the assignment he had been given: “Describe a photograph. Picture it in your mind and write about it in detail.
By: By Dori Otterson, contributing writer, Alexandria Echo Press
Harlan Schuneman sat at his desk in a senior college classroom and thought about the assignment he had been given: “Describe a photograph. Picture it in your mind and write about it in detail. What has happened since? What has remained the same? What has changed?
Harlan looked down at his paper and slowly began to write….
My old country schoolhouse
by Harlan Schuneman
My country school now stands deserted, in fact hardly stands at all.
Once such center of activity; now folks hardly notice that it’s there.
A large school, grades one through eight, some years 32 students enrolled.
I attended this school eight years, all subjects taught by one teacher.
Grades nine through twelve at Alexandria High School, graduated in ‘47.
I remember my first day in first grade, such a big classroom, kids I didn’t know
All seemed much bigger than me; soon the five boys in my class got acquainted.
We learned the 3 R’s and so much more, chores to do, water to carry,
Erasers to dust and fire wood to be brought up from the basement.
The wood box to fill, books to straighten, and trash to carry out,
But we enjoyed our turn doing chores, it gave a break from our studies.
Recess was always welcome as it was toilet break, then time to play ball.
Sometimes Pump, Pump, Pull away, Gray Wolf, and other games.
Drowning out gophers was a time of excitement, the favorite sport of all.
In bitter winter weather we spent recess inside. Should we play jacks or marbles.
We had to decide. Maybe that’s how the saying “Lost his marbles” got a start.
When playing, “Stop the Music,” desks came apart. We sometimes sang songs
From the yellow songbook after we had eaten frozen sandwiches from our lunch box.
One Halloween night BELL RIVER TECH school almost brought our school fame;
On the north side of the building bold pranksters had painted that name.
Christmas program practice to the students was always a big deal,
A nightmare for teachers, it must have caused them some grey hair.
For our parents, we thought we had made a big production,
Besides now was the start of a two week Christmas vacation.
I think of grade school as a gardener’s hot bed, little seedlings planted to grow.
Some seedlings transplanted to high school; some on their own decide to go.
At our year 2000 school reunion, some classmates scattered throughout the country.
Came to renew acquaintances and share memories; how nice to see and hear
Many of those classmates gone for many a year, but alas, of my old class of five,
I’m fortunate, the only one alive; Father Time has harvested many of the plants.
There will come a time when the harvest is complete, so it is, life comes and goes.
Now in retirement we have time to recall and reminisce on a lifetime of memories.
Harlan’s country schoolhouse sits on farmland that belongs to him and his brother, Merle. Since they intend to retire from farming and sell the land, they plan to burn their old country school down sometime this spring.