NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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Each year as the school year begins I like to reflect back, oh so many years, to when I was still in school. My best school days were spent in Hammer School, the country school that once sat where Jim Gustafson Field is today. Those were simple times, fun times when everyone knew their classmates and we all, for the most part, got along.

I can still remember meeting the teacher on the first day of school, which was no surprise because we had a two-room school house where grade 1-3 was on one side and 4-6 on the other and the same teachers would more than likely be there again the next year. The seating had a special order with 1st grade along the inside wall, 2nd in the middle and 3rd grade by the windows. After you moved to the other room you had to start over with the wall seating, kind of a seniority thing. We had to sit together with our own grade because there were three different grades, each one studying their particular grade’s lessons.

Music was kind of fun and we would enjoy singing old favorites like “Oh Susannah”’ “Are you Sleeping Brother John,” “Alouette,” “She’ll be Coming ‘round the Mountain” and a whole lot more. I was not and still am not a very good singer, but I could get into those songs and do more than just move my lips, which is what I usually did when singing in church.

The school had large windows along each side and the only air conditioning was those windows. You’d get fresh air in the spring and fall, which sometimes made it hard for me to concentrate because the smell of fall or spring made me want to be outside. Those days nobody cared what kind of clothes you wore or where you bought them and I don’t believe that anyone even knew what the phrase “name brand” meant. Yes, these are some of the times that I reflect back on when thinking about the good old days.

We ate our lunch in the basement of the school, which had a painted floor and wood tables and benches that were painted red. If I close my eyes and think back I can still smell the wondrous odor of my favorite sandwich — egg salad. My mother made the best egg salad sandwiches, which came wrapped in wax paper, usually accompanied by carrots, celery or a pickle. Each day we’d bring milk money for that little carton of milk we had with our lunch.

I believe it was about once or twice a week that LeRoy Mass would come to the school to have us enjoy phy ed. We’d play kickball, dodgeball, have three-legged races and other organized activities. For most of us kids the real fun was the games we organized ourselves at recess. One of our favorites was “chicken” where one kid rode on another’s back and you tried to get the other team off balance and make them fall down. This was fun until broken arms started to pop up and the teachers found out; after that the game was just a memory; kind of like now. A few of the kids that lived by the airport rode their bikes to school but most of us walked, rain or snow.

Before we had a TV at home one of my school friends, Larry Hubbell, who was older than me, would usually ask me if I’d want to stop at his house and watch “Crusader Rabbit,” a cartoon on channel 10 sponsored by Wonder Bread, which boasted it helped build strong bodies 12 different ways. I always looked forward to this because it was a luxury we didn’t have.

School today is a totally different animal and I do wonder what folks today would do without social media, cell phones and video games to entertain them. You don’t suppose they would create their own fun, spend time outdoors and not worry about what the other person was wearing? Never mind, that was just a silly thought.

In the ‘50s, most mothers were stay-at-home moms who spent time ironing, washing clothes, taking care of the garden, baking and canning vegetables and fruit. These were the necessities of the times. Today, most households have both parents in the workforce; another necessity, which makes everything today so much faster paced. It would be nice if we could just take a time out and enjoy a few of the simple things.

Yes, as kids we played outside at recess and most of the time we played games that we had come up with on our own; it’s called imagination and creativity. If the youth of today have everything organized and planned for them they just won’t have the time or the opportunity to enjoy being just kids.

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The Mille Lacs Lake walleye situation is a big problem to which there is no easy solution. There is now a push on to open the lake to winter walleye fishing. Isn’t that sort of defeating the purpose? I’m not for or against doing that because on one side there is the thought that not fishing them for a certain period of time may somehow help the walleye population. Then there is the harsh reality that many resorters may still be able to salvage their season with winter walleye fishing; which on this lake is a very big deal. I’m glad that I’m not the one trying to solve this puzzle, which would be harder than the Rubik’s Cube.

Until next time, now is the time to enjoy the mild temperatures of the day and those cool evenings; which makes for a great time spent enjoying the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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