Lately my mind has been lurching from one unrelated topic to another, thoughts flashing across my brain for a nanosecond before completely disappearing. Here are a few bits and pieces I was able to retrieve from a week of random thinking!
I recently wrote about several rows of corn blocking the field-and-forest landscape I so enjoy from my living room windows. At precisely noon on Friday, October 13, those ready-to-be-harvested stalks were removed, allowing once again full access to my favorite view: a stroke of good luck on a superstitiously bad-luck day!
An important figure during my years as a 4-H member passed away last week: Kenneth Rinehart. His age was listed as 100, but Kenny remains in my mind the forty-something agriculture extension agent who was just the best kind of public servant.
When I reminisce about my to-make-the-best-better days of adolescence, I think of Kenny and his 4-H extension colleagues, Larry Rhonemus and Pauline Mills. Kenny and Larry organized annual Saturday morning 4-H officer training meetings at Urbana East Elementary, and Miss Mills was a veritable font of home economics information. They all contributed so much to Champaign County and its kids. From a 1966 UDC article: “these people…out here in the counties, rubbing shoulders with farmers and agricultural business men, homemakers…4-H boys and girls…”
During a rerun of Father Knows Best on the Antenna Channel, another memory surfaced. The son, Bud, had failed to memorize a poem he was to recite at church, and the minister cautioned him the next time to learn his “piece,” a term I have not heard for lots of years. We frequently arrived home from school or Sunday School or Bible School with papers containing our “piece” for some upcoming program. Especially in the primary grades, each child had one line of a poem or one verse of scripture to memorize for recitation as part of an overall theme. It has been a long time since I had to learn a “piece.”
I also saw a TV commercial for something called a “chatbook.” After sixty cellphone pictures, a book containing all sixty photographs is automatically produced. I remember the 1950’s version of these modern booklets. Tucked away in boxes of old family photos are black-and-white snapshots collated between glossy yellow or green covers imprinted with “Our Memories.”
That process has since been totally streamlined. Years ago, my parents had to load the Brownie camera with an actual roll of film, line us up for pictures, take the film to the drugstore, and wait a week for the pictures to come back. These days: snap a bunch of cellphone pix and wait for the “chatbook” to arrive in the mail!
And then there was a special reunion related to my old stomping ground, Concord School. The last year that a full gamut of students, first through twelfth grades, occupied our little school was 1957, when I was a third-grader. Only grades 1-8 returned to Concord that fall, with the “big kids” filling the sprawling, centralized high school on Route 36.
Thus, the Class of 1957 was the last group to graduate from Concord. When I saw Facebook photos from their 60th class celebration, I thought about the high school kids from my childhood. They and members of the Classes of 1956 and 1955 were the cheerleaders and basketball players I watched in the gymnasium. They were the performers who staged class plays and operettas. They periodically issued the school newspaper – printed on long yellow paper – containing the honor roll and news from each class. They were the girls at typewriters in the typing room on the top floor and the boys in the vo-ag classroom in the basement. They were the guys who stowed their gym bags at the front of the bus, while the girls practiced shorthand in their stenographer notebooks on the ride to school. And they went on to become the backbone of the Concord community – whose children I babysat and later taught English.
Several 1957 graduates are no longer with us: Sue Hagans Brockett, Ruth Ann Cox Eleyet, Judy Birt Blankenship King, Danny Kizer, Ronnie Moffitt, Joyce Lee Waldren, and Ray Young. Many others have been remembering the days of their youth six decades earlier: Wilma Biddle Teach, Roger Blankenship, Charles Crumley, Linda Kite Weymouth, Stephen McDaniel, Kay Moore Moffitt, Virginia Shirk Stanley, Carolyn Snarr Crone, Jerry Toomire, my uncle Gail Scott, and Becky Ballard Master, whom I thank for her invaluable help with updates. And Tom and Carolyn Rogers were warmly welcomed as faculty representatives from those long-ago days.
1957 was also the last year of Harold Shank’s 21-year principalship at Concord. The Wittenberg graduate, who taught mathematics and science at Rosewood and Conover before his time at Concord, moved on to serve as Graham High School’s first principal until his retirement at the end of my junior year in 1965. Mr. Shank was the consummate administrator, professional and wise – I feel fortunate to have twice been a student in his schools.
Even as I give this detailed information of my school memories, back then lots of kids were rearranged and reassigned as consolidation came to the area: in every corner of Champaign County there were last graduating classes – and eventually first ones, too.
So that was my bits-and-pieces week. I hope everyone enjoyed hopscotching through my brain with me!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.