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Pathways Through Our Past

It's been so long since I talked to you I don't know where to start. What that really means is that I'm searching madly for something to write about. I suppose I could tell you about all the changes taking place at the History Center, or the fact that our television filming debut went well, or that some of our upcoming programs sound exciting, or that you'll soon see new directional signs around town showing where we're located. We do hope to see most of you when we reopen in February. No excuses as to how to find us now. Lots of work and lots of fun and lots of laughter happening at the History and Art Center.

The center opened in August 2006 and since that time we've had lots of elementary students and teachers visit us. This is what was happening in the Elementary classes of 1948.

First: Thirty-eight first graders met a new experience on the first day of school. Since then they've been busy learning to work and play together. They've learned to read and write too. At Christmas time, the Blackduck first graders studied the Christmas celebrations of children in foreign lands. The Pilgrims, Eskimos and Dutch have been studied. Miss Joyce Johnson (Trimble) was their Teacher.

Second: On opening day 40, children took their places in the second grade room. Many new doors of learning were opened to the pupils this year. Miss Jean Skinner, their teacher, taught the children how to use saws, hammers, and drills. They made Yule Logs for their moms at Christmas. Some of the units studied were about dogs, pilgrims, health-giving foods, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and circus life.

Third: The things the third graders remembered most distinctly about school this year were probably not learned from books. Dennis brought a wooden Indian and Beth brought turtles eggs and a chipmunk when nature was studied. Other children brought insects, butterflies and cocoons. In Language, the kids dramatized the stories that were read in class. An entire town was built by the children while the class was studying Centerville. Miss Jean Hokanson was the teacher.

Fourth: Highlights in this grade for 1948 have been the doll show presented to the third grade; the Christmas pageant in the form of a radio program given to the third grade; and the making of several reminders of early life in Minnesota. This included a Red River cart and driver, a covered wagon, a log house and old time candles. The climax of the year was the class picnic held at Blackduck Lake. Mrs. Chester (Elsie) Leonard was the fourth grade teacher.

Fifth: With the loss of one pupil, the enrollment of the fifth grade dropped to 30 smiling faces. In Geography, the class spent some time studying Mexico, and they enlarged their vocabulary by adding a few Spanish and Mexican words. The fifth grade had several parties throughout the year, which ended with the spring picnic. The fifth grade teacher was Miss Jones.

Sixth: Seventeen girls and 20 boys started out the year, but one moved away leaving nineteen boys for a total of 36 pupils. Like the high school pupils, the sixth graders also have their extra-curricular activities. Several members of this class play in both the junior and high school band. The sixth grade library has grown considerably this year. Several books came through the high school library and Miss Hirth, the teacher, presented the class with a book as a Christmas gift.

The sixth grade also led all the other grades in getting PTA memberships. At Christmas time the class sent four gift packages over seas. Two went to England, one to Holland and one to France. From the letter received, it was judged that the little foreign friends thought it was the most thoughtful thing 36 sixth graders and their teacher could do.

Ok, Elementary Teachers and Students -- how do your classes compare to those of 60 years ago?

When I wrote that question, I had been thinking about what my class did back then. I think I was in the one with the bugs!

Lakeland Public Television will air our Railroad story FeB. 18 at 7 p.m. on Channel 9 and again Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. Hope you all watch it. Sonja Juelson did the majority of the research from 1900 on, and she and Al Gerner told the story of the beginning and end of the railroad in Blackduck. It was quite an experience.