Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grace Pollock

Interviewed May 10, 1989
Edited July 1995 

Q:        Grace, you’ve always been the best Kindergarten teacher in our District.  Tell us how you got here.
GP:      I applied to Humor’s School Service in Minneapolis, and Mr. Amerman hired me.  That’s how I got here.  I came by train from northern Minnesota.
Q:        Did you first start teaching here at what building?
GP:      At Main Street School in the Kindergarten.  There was just the one Kindergarten then.  I had two classes, 53 kids altogether.  And then it got to the place where I had 85 kids in class and so they decided that we needed a second teacher and from then on it just grew.
Q:        Was the whole building …
GP:      Elementary.  No, I don’t remember the year, but they built on the wing that extends out to the South.  That whole wing was built on.
Q:        Then that added all those classrooms. (GP: to the South.)  Was the building connected to what we now call Old Village School at that time too?  You know that was the high school, wasn’t it then?
GP:      It seems to me that – no, that was put on later.
Q:        What were they using for upper grades when you moved into Main Street School?  You know, by that I mean …
GP:      It went through the sixth grade at what we call Main Street Elementary and then started with seventh grade and went through twelfth at the other building.
Q:        Oh, where was the other building?
GP:      The other – the old high school.
Q:        Oh, what we call Old Village now?
GP:      Yeah, yeah.
Q:        But the two weren’t connected – they didn’t have that walkway then?
GP:      No, it was just an open space as I recall.
Q:        Yeah, and did the – was the Recreation Building there too?  Do you remember?
GP:      No it wasn’t in existence then.
Q:        Yeah, were there any other school buildings than those two?
GP:      No.
Q:        So, there wasn’t like a junior high anywhere or …
GP:      No, the junior high was in with the high school.
Q:        Was it on a lower level say, or something like that?  Do you remember the arrangement in that one?
GP:      I don’t know.  I never did know.
Q:        And when you were teaching here then you said that you lived about, like a lot of us, you had to go into a rooming house place because …
GP:      Well, there were homes that had – that would rent out a room to teachers.
Q:        Sure.  If you tell me where you lived and on what street, if you can remember.
GP:      The first room, the first place I roomed was with the Lyons family.  A lot of people would know what I mean because Dick Lyon is the grandson.  And that was where the parking lot is now for – well across from the Post Office.  It was on the corner.  No, it would be on – it was on the corner of Cady and Wing.  And then I lived with Huffs – yeah, I lived at Huff’s on the street from where I am now (West Street.)  Their boy came home from the service, so I went to live with a family called Crandal on Dunlap Street.  They moved to California so I got a room at the Carpenter’s down on First Street.  And then got into the Sedan Apartments, stayed there until 1948 and then …
Q:        Where is the Sedan Apartments?
GP:      It was on Dubuar? They had just a little apartment in their house, a little two-room apartment in their house. 
Q:        Oh, Mr. Sedan worked for… (GP: Schrader’s), yeah.
GP:      And then I – then we rented a little house down on – at the end of West Street until we had this house built.  We had this one built – it was finished and we moved in the day before Thanksgiving in 1958.
Q:        So, last year was thirty years.
GP:      Thirty years.
Q:        Did you in that time – did you, being the pilot Kindergarten teacher, did you find a change in the style of teaching you did in Kindergarten?
GP:      Kindergarten got more and more and more structured as people began to fuss about kids learning to read in Kindergarten.  And actually, I’m a little disturbed because I think it’s getting so structured that it isn’t fulfilling its purpose anymore.
Q:        How do you picture its purpose?
GP:      Well, it was to – the idea of Kindergarten was to acquaint children to school, orient them to school.  And when I first took my training, you were supposed to let them experiment with, give them chances to experiment with little science experiments, get a little snatch of the idea of geography, and everything that goes on in school, but also let them learn in the way that kids learn when they’re at home by trying things out, by interest in ideas, and following through on interests.  And now they don’t have time for that.  Now, you have to – of course, you were also very concerned about being sure that these children were being oriented to the idea of reaching and arithmetic.  So, you put a lot of little reading and arithmetic experiences in their way so that they would meet up with them.  But they got more and more formal and stuffed workbooks in their little hands, and that you do this.  I think that in a lot of ways spoiled Kindergarten.  Of course, I’m one that believes that you rush children too much.  We have many many years to be old folks.  Why not let them be children for a few minutes anyhow?
Q:        You used to do such imaginative stuff with the kids.  (GP:  That’s what you’re supposed to do.)  You collected ideas from everywhere did you?
GP:      From the kids too!  I can remember, I’ll tell you his name, the little Turnbull boy, Brian Turnbull came to Kindergarten one day and he had some – Grandma had been visiting him or somebody from out of town.  And she taught him how to make floating candles, and he wanted to know if we could make some in Kindergarten.  And I said, “I don’t know how.”  He said, “I’ll show you.”  So, everybody brought old candles, and Brian taught the class, me included, how to make floating candles, and we all made floating candles, and they took‘em home to their Moms.  We put crayons, the old stubs of crayons into the wax from the candles to make‘em the colors we wanted them.  Now, I’m working with Brian’s little daughter at Youth Club.
Q:        No kidding.  Well, is Brian Turnbull still around?
GP:      Oh yeah, they live – I don’t know exactly where they live – somewhere between here and Novi.  And he has a little daughter.
Q:        Well then, you’re teaching her; you’re working with her then in church.  Describe that church group because I didn’t …
GP:      Well, actually what it is – they called it Nursery, and the kids objected because they’re all the way from tiny infants a few weeks old to eight-year-olds.  All the children whose mothers and fathers work in the program, which is many.  We had as many as 15-18 kids in the group.  And they’re all the way from three or four months old – well no, the youngest one I had was three weeks old – all the way from three weeks old to third graders.  And we do – oh, we have stories once in a while, and we play games, and have craft projects – every week a craft project.  Make all sorts of little things.
Q:        Well, you said this was one afternoon a week?
GP:      Wednesday afternoons from four o’clock – well, I go at four o’clock – the children come earliest at 4:15 I think they come.  The first ones come and then they come and go as their mothers are working.  If a mother works in the early part, they stay – some of them go home at supper time; some of them go home at 7:30 when the fifth and sixth grade gang get through.  And some of them go at 8:30.  And if their parents are working in the group, then they are there until 8:30.  But we’ve done everything from needle pointing to building little banks with these little sticks, popsicle sticks – just all sorts of things that they work on.
Q:        So usually, they’re working on some kind of project?
GP:      Every week we do a project.
Q:        Does that go through the summer?
GP:      No, we just finished.  Last week was our last week.  We had a picnic.
Q:        And you call it Youth Club?
GP:      Youth Club.  It includes – the group of children that are there for Youth Club – the actual Youth Club is 100 and some children this last year.  Plus my little gang.  And they have supper there and everything.  I even have to feed them.  Some of them I spook feed, and then some of them I just point and say, “Eat your salad?”
Q:        Well, there’s lots of other stuff you do with the church, too?
GP:      Yes, I make the corsages for the new members when they join the church.  This last weekend I made 43, 46 corsages because I always make extra.  We had 43 new members.
Q:        United Methodist Church has that many new members – came in this batch?
GP:      Yes, that’s the second batch this year.  And I make the corsages for that.  And I sometimes help address envelopes.  Help serve dinners.
Q:        Is that the sort of thing the Women’s Group does?

GP:      The Women’s – well, we have divided into two groups now.  We had three, and two of us combined.  We couldn’t see having two afternoon fellowships, so we combined.
Q:        So, you have afternoon fellowships for the women and evening?
GP:      Morning.  They used to have an evening one, but we all got too old so we (laughter).  Nobody wanted to drive at night, when they didn’t have to, so you just …
Q:        So, you do the things that the groups – do you have talk sessions, I’m sure – then work sessions?
GP:      Well, programs of various sorts.  Some of them are work sessions, like we had a basket making session a while ago and there’s a group of ladies from the UMS come here and we stitch and make things for the bazaar in November.  Most of the time we meet every week – yeah, every week but we haven’t been doing it this summer.  I blew them off when I took a month off, and we haven’t gotten started.
Q:        So, have there been any of the church in the time you’ve been going – you probably started when you came here to town?
GP:      In the church down on Center Street and Dunlap.
Q:        You remember just who the minister was, the first minister?

GP:      Yeah, Reverend Williams – Reverend Leslie Williams.  He died recently.  Yeah, he was the minister then.  They first visitor I had at school.  The first year I came to Northville, I got to town early ‘cause they wanted teachers to come early so they could find a place to live and be all established before school started.  So, then they had a polio scare, and school was delayed for a week.  And so I was already here, and Minnesota was too far to go home for the week.  So, I guess all the teachers were here.  I don’t know, but I remember I went in and painted all the Kindergarten chairs and tables.
Q:        And you said you had a visitor?
GP:      Yes, Pearl Hanks, who was third grade teacher, and Reverend Williams came to see me, to see if I’d teach Sunday School, when I did until a few years ago.
Q:        Did you teach Kindergarten level or the little people?
GP:      Yes – Kindergarten and Nursery School classes.  A busman’s holiday!
Q:        Yeah, well then, I - the church moved from there then on to Eight Mile?
GP:      Eight Mile, and I can’t remember what year, but I remember it was – it snowed, and the snow was real deep, and we formed a caravan down on – down at the church.  And the people who didn’t have a car there rode with other people, so everybody had a ride, and we formed a caravan.  And the policemen controlled traffic as we went from the …
Q:        Oh, that’s smart – you moved like …
GP:      Undedicating – what do you call that?  Undedicating – where you take the – it’s just like dedication – only you remove the dedication.  I don’t know what they call it.  We had that service at the old church, and then went – did our little procession out to the new church and sort of a consecration service, but not dedication ‘cause you had to wait for a bishop to come for dedication.
Q:        Oh, oh.  I suppose you carried some object to make it …
GP:      I can’t remember – can’t remember that.
Q:        But the congregation then all moved into the one session …
GP:      We moved during a church service from the one building to the next building.  It was really interesting.  And we had our services for years down in the education unit – the Fellowship Hall.
Q:        Oh, that’s right.  The chapel or sanctuary wasn’t built at first.
GP:      No, we built that later.  They moved into that – I can’t remember how many years ago – on Christmas Eve.  We had our first service Christmas Eve.  And it’s grown again because a year ago we added on – a couple of years ago – yeah, a couple of years ago, we added on a new Fellowship Hall upstairs and extended the kitchen and made it a little bigger.  No, the Fellowship Hall upstairs is the same size as the one down in the basement, or down on the first level.  It isn’t a basement.
Q:        And then you’re having this big increase of members …
GP:      Growing like everything.  Of course, you lose some because this is a transferring area.  People are moving here and there.  We’re forever losing somebody to England or France or …
Q:        Your Mill Race group – I wasn’t aware of them.  I knew there was a Weaver’s Group down there.

GP:      This is – we don’t go down to Mill Race for our meetings, but it’s called Mill Race because it’s a central location for our group.  There are members from Northville, well; we have some from over Wixom way, a couple, two or three from Livonia.  I don’t know – Farmington has their own unit.  But Novi, Northville – we have several girls who come clear from Brighton.
Q:        Where do you usually meet?
GP:      We meet – right now, we’re meeting in the Banquet Room of the Elks Building – down here below the drug store on Center Street.  We’re upstairs – they have their meetings downstairs, and their Banquet Hall is upstairs, and that’s where we meet.  It’s not on the corner – there’s a little building down the hill from the drug store.  It’s not on Cady; it’s on Center.  We meet up there and most of the time – a lot of the time it’s workshops, where we learn new techniques like hand French sewing; the hardinger; and cross stitch – various kinds of cross stitch projects; and tatting with needles instead of a tatting shuttle; and just all kinds of fun projects.  (Editor:  Embroidery Guild who meets at the Eagles Lodge on S. Center St.).
Q:        Who teaches you?
GP:      Well, Jean Louer taught the class on tatting – she has the little yellow house out on Twelve Mile Road and she taught the class on tatting.  And she did a class on bargello.  And a Pat Krohms who has a shop somewhere – I think – I don’t know where Pat’s from – but she was a member also.  She isn’t now, but she once was.  And she taught a class on – I can’t remember what it was called – open work, drawn work, and all kinds of techniques on this little heart shaped thing on canvas – ribbons and all sorts of interesting things.
Q:        Now is this a national organization?
GP:      It’s an international organization as I understand it.  But we are definitely affiliated with the national.  We have members who go to – well, it must be our national because one of our members went to somewhere overseas – I think it was Japan, she went to a month long workshop on Oriental embroidery, where they work with silk thread.  So, it’s an interesting group.  Several of them are teachers – I mean instructors in – who have taken and got classes and workshops and gotten their certificate, teaching certificates in this sort of thing.  And they there are some of us who are just learning.  See I never needle pointed or anything like that until I got to …
Q:        Yeah, how did they get you to join?
GP:      I went down to buy some yarn at the needlepoint shop, when it was down on Mary Alexander Court, and they had a big sign up for class.  And I said, “Can I watch for a minute?”  I stood and watched all these women sitting there working, and I got so intrigued that I signed up for the class they had posted on the wall.  So, I’ve just gotten more and more interested.
Q:        Well, weren’t you doing – you were doing so many handicraft things with the kids?
GP:      Yeah, that’s my first love – hand-crafts.  I’ve always liked that.  I think if I had gone to a city school where they had Art classes as a kid, I probably would have done more because what I used to do is design covers for their spelling tablets ‘cause we had to make our own spelling tablets in country school when I was a kid.  And I put the design on the covers because I had a problem with reading.  I had such poor vision that it made my head ache to read, so I got excused from reading Library books when I had time off, and I drew the kid’s covers for their books.  And I think if I could have had some Art classes, I would have – of course, I did take Art in college.  I had a – my certificate read that I had a minor in Art.  Yeah, you either have to – as our instructor in St. Paul said – you really need to be especially interested in and inclined to either Art or Music to be a good Kindergarten teacher.
Q:        Well I remember you’ve always taken advantage too of things that were going on like one time when they were fixing Main Street and doing something with the ceiling, you had the kids watch the workmen.
GP:      Well, we watched them build the new wing on the building.  We’d stand in the corner of the Kindergarten playground because you see – that’s where the building ended – at the end of the Kindergarten playground.  And we stood there and watched as they dug the hole and each little thing that was being done, we watched from the Kindergarten playground ‘cause we had a birds-eye view of that, and we watched that.  We watched them move a house down Main Street.  It was really exciting to watch the men come along and lift up the telephone wires, the electric, people come and lift up the telephone and electric wires and let the house go under.  We watched all kinds of fun things like that.  Anything that was going on, we’d quit.  When the fire truck went past, we’d quit and run to the window and watch the fire truck go by.
Q:        You caught my ear with the moving house.  Were there any houses say on any of these streets that you know where they were moved from?  You know like a …
GP:      The one of ‘em that we watched being moved was – gosh, where did she get it moved from – it was down somewhere, Main Street was it?  And it was the one that Louise Older bought and had moved up onto Rogers Street.
Q:        Like at the end of Dubuar?
GP:      Yeah.  It’s the end of Dubuar Street on Rogers.  We watched that one being moved.  We put on our coats and hats and mittens and scarves and went down and watched them turn the corner onto – now, wait a minute – it must have been from somewhere else.  Would that be the house that was down on the corner where that Heritage Bank is now?  Somehow or another, it was brought from – ‘cause we watched them turn the corner onto Main Street.
Q:        Off Hutton, huh?
GP:      Em, hem – and then we got close.  We came back and got our coats off and watched them come past the school.
Q:        Yeah, that good big window.

GP:      Uh, huh and we watched the men change the light bulbs in the street lights.  We watched everything that went on.  The fun part of it was that the week after his house was moved up Main Street, the feature article in our little Kindergarten Weekly Reader was about moving a house.  And the kids were so excited because, “We know about that!”  And they went on and on and told what they remembered about this house being moved.
Q:        In the time that you were at Main Street, who were the principals?  Do you remember?
GP:      Mr. Ellison had just been made Principal when I came.  He was helping Mr. Amerman in the capacity of Acting Principal because the Principal had just been inducted into the Army; he went into the Armed Services.  And then he was appointed Principal.  So, he was the Principal for years until he went over to the, was it the high school or junior high, both? And then Harry Smith and then Dutch Van Ingen.  They were the only three principals I had in thirty-three years.  When I first came, I wanted to do something with Art, beyond Kindergarten, and so I went to Mr. Ellison and asked him if I could have some classes in – craft classes for the fifth and sixth grade kids.  And we got it all set up, and a couple of days before the class was to begin Mr. Ellison had been at a meeting down at City Hall and he said, “Would you mind doing this as Recreation Classes for the City?”  And I said, “What do I have to do?”  And he said, “Just what you were going to do.”  So, it was the first Recreation Classes, and I had class after school at night for fifth and sixth grade kids.  And we soap carved and did all kinds of stuff.
Q:        Like in your Kindergarten room?
GP:      In the Kindergarten room.  These kids came over.  I had two different classes.
Q:        I’ll be darned, and that was the beginning then of Recreation classes.
GP:      That was the beginning – that’s the first Recreation classes.  They also had Mr. Ellison – then Mr. Ellison taught class for the Recreation classes, and it was for adults.  And we were working with – one of the classes was plastic, and I can remember I was making a coat, so I made some buttons for my coat – plastic buttons for my coat.  Well, they had the sheets of plastic, and you cut it out on the saw, and – drilled the hole for the thread.  Then I made a key tag and some bookends.  Well, you took the long strip of plastic while it was still hot or warm; you formed it into the shape you wanted… I can’t remember what else we made.  It was one of the first Recreation Classes, and Mr. Ellison taught it.
Q:        I can’t remember what – we know there wasn’t any Recreation Building at that time, but was it houses along Main?
GP:      The Brock house was one of them.
Q:        Well, the house on the corner was the City Hall – on the corner of Wing Street?
GP:      Yeah, Wing Street, and I can’t remember what the next house was.  But the end one on – that would be on Cady.  No, no, it would have been on West Street, when West Street used to go through.  And it was on West Street, and that was the Brock House, and they had – when they put in the third Kindergarten session – Ann Chizmar taught it, and she had her room, her Kindergarten in the Brock House.  And Pearl Hench had a class in the Brock House, and Margaret Sauers.  And I can’t remember whether anybody else did or not.  But then they had classes – it used to be a house, and they had apartments up above, and some of the teachers lived in the apartments.
Q:        In the Brock House?
GP:      Yeah, in the Brock House and the next one, but the teachers had to move then, you see, when they turned it into classrooms.
Q:        So, we kept outgrowing the building kinda?
GP:      And then they built on the addition.  Well, you see, since – I’m not sure – but I thought – now Mr. Turnbull said that the Chapman school kids went to South Lyon, but I recall’em coming to our building.  And then that school that burned down came to our building.
Q:        Where was that school that burned down?
GP:      Oh, what was the name of that one?  The house on the corner – it was on Seven Mile and em…it wouldn’t be Napier, would it?  I keep thinking Terney, but I don’t think that’s – Thayer (Napier and Six Mile) – that’s the one.  I can remember when they came into our school.
Q:        And Chapman School sent you some kids too?
GP:      I’m not sure.  But I got a bunch of kids from out that way.  Did he have a record of a school that burned or something during Christmas vacation?
Q:        No, he didn’t say anything about that – Mr. Amerman didn’t.  But there was a Baseline School.  It was at Taft and Eight Mile too.
GP:      And that came here.  All I know is that it just kept expanding and expanding until in a – of course, let’s see, in three years – the course of three years, I think, I think it was.  Maybe it was four.  I went from 53 kids to 85.  I had 43 in one session and 42 in another.
Q:        And some of them were Novi kids?
GP:      I don’t know whether they were Novi kids coming in then or not.  I can’t recall.  I don’t know what year that was.
Q:        But like we remember where Novi high school kids came here.  They paid tuition; they didn’t have a high school.
GP:      Uh, huh – they paid tuition for these kids from Willow Brook.  I imagine anyway.  I can remember that.  Do you want a funny story from that year – those years?  I don’t remember whether it was the first one, second, or third, but all of a sudden six children came in from the bus, and this little guy came in – he didn’t have a note about who he was.  I had one that wasn’t registered.  There was a little boy and no registration.  I asked him how old he was, and he said he was five.  Asked him what his name was, and he said – oh, I can’t remember his name – his name was Linden Beebe-Juggie.  And I said, “What’s your other name?”  And he said, “Just Juggie.”  I said, “Well, what do people call your mama, your mother?"  He said, “We call her Mama.”  And I said, “Well, what do people call your daddy?”  And he said, “Well, we call him Daddy.”  And I said, “Yes, but if the man next door to you comes over, he doesn’t call your daddy, Daddy ‘cause your dad isn’t his daddy.”  “No.”  But that was all the information I could get.  So, comes time for the kids to go and the bus driver was a lady, and she came over to pick up the Kindergarten kids and escort them to the bus if you please.  And so I said to her, “These children say that Juggie belongs on their bus.  Do you know anything about this little boy?”  “Oh,” she says, “That’s Linden Beebe.”  I said, “Well, I don’t have any information about him.”  So I sent a note home with him requesting some information and saying that the child wasn’t properly registered.  Please come in and register him.
Q:        Now, the Collins family – Lila had the flower shop.
GP:      Yeah, and she had these two little kids that had this rare illness.  And when Kathy was in Kindergarten they lived in the house that is now in the Historical Village – Cady Inn.  (ED:  Yerkes House was where the Collins lived.)
Q:        Yeah, before Renagles lived there.
GP:      And one day Kathy was real real late for school.  And I said, “Kathy, what happened?”  She says, “I took a shortcut.”  And instead of coming up Cady Street, she’d gone clear around onto Rogers Street – Dunlap Street and up to Rogers Street, and down Rogers back to the Kindergarten.  That was a shortcut!  But she was – the only indication of her illness when she was in Kindergarten was she had a funny little tic; her eye would jump.  But she had no problems at all; she could hop and skip and run with the best of them.  I always thought about her and her shortcut.
Q:        In your teaching career, you covered quite a span – like what were their contracts and pays in those days?
GP:      The first year, I taught only the first three grades and part of the fourth grade in a one-room country school, and I got $20 a month.
Q:        For how many months?

GP:      It was a nine-month school, but I only did 7 ½ because I had two kinds of measles and mumps.
Q:        And then did things get better?
GP:      And then I went out to another school because they weren’t going to have two teachers the next year, and I didn’t want to handle all those eighth grade kids ‘cause there were a lot of – it was a big school.  Lot of kids – three kids in a double desk – there were that many kids in school.  And I didn’t want to take on that heavy load.  And so I went out to a school in – anyway, the upper grade teacher took over, so I didn’t have a chance.  So I went out to a little school on Wright Lake or Height of Land Lake in the next county, and my contract there was $49 – my paycheck read $49 teaching, $1 janitor service.  And you went to school and built the fire and carried out the ashes, and split the kindling for $1 a month.  Swept the floors.
Q:        And you were paid ten months then, or nine months?
GP:      No, they didn’t have any ten months schools in Minnesota.  That one was eight-month school also because they had a six-week vacation at Christmas time because the snow was so deep, and it was so cold.  So, you had six weeks off at Christmas.  And then I got a school up beyond Itaska Park, where the Mississippi begins.  And that was a real nice little community – very poor people but a real nice community.  That was $50 a month, but then the people I stayed with didn’t think it was fair for a teacher to split her own kindling, so – and they had the contract to supply the wood for the school – so, they split the kindling.  When you got to school, you built your fire until I froze my feet so bad, the school board made me hire one of the 8th grade kids to come in and build the fire ‘cause they thought it was dangerous.
Q:        Now, you worked through the Depression too?
GP:      Oh yes, the people in this last district that I worked in Minnesota before I went to – off to college to get my degree – were so poor that the one family had saw horses with a door on it for a table and saw horses with boards on it for their bedsteads.  And the house got – they were so poor – that it got so cold during the night that the baby’s mittens came off, and the baby froze its hands during the night.  They had a little one that was four or five months old, and the baby’s hands froze in its crib.  They were that poor.  And then along came election time, and just before election, all people got subsidy from the government because they got put on W.P.A.  But as soon as the election was over, three days later, they were all released.  They were as poor as ever.  My first lesson in politics and how rough politics were.  But I can remember, and then they sent them out food rations – surplus food.  Any they sent these people grapefruit, and nobody had any idea of how to eat grapefruit.  So, we had a grapefruit party, everybody was supposed to bring one grapefruit for every two people and my landlady game me a knife to take to school.  And everybody was told to bring spoons.  I took sugar to school.  We had grapefruit with our lunches; had a grapefruit party; showed’em how to eat it.  And there were several other things that they – well; they were so poor they couldn’t buy fruit.  It was a great treat when my family – we were real poor ourselves, but I can remember they brought out treats for the kids when they came out to our Christmas program.  All the family bathrobes for the wise men for their program.  Then they brought out treats, and dad went down and got an orange for each of the kids because he remembered the grapefruit story.  And they were thrilled to pieces with these oranges.  And mom had made homemade candy and brought out too for treats for us.  I remember one of the little kids followed her dad all around after the program, and she said, “Daddy, were you Santa Claus?” “No, but I saw Santa Claus when I went out and drove his reindeer.”  “Daddy, were you Santa Claus?”  This went on and on. (Laughter)  He had been.  In that year I bought coping saws; we had an ice cream social or a pie social at school.  And I bought with the money from the pie social.  I bought coping saws and hammers and nails and went to the grocery stores in town.  And my dad brought them out to me – when he’d bring me out, he’d bring them – orange crates and apple boxes from the grocery stores.  The boys took ’em apart, and we made cradles for the little girls and key racks for the mothers and dads and all kinds of little wooden – so that everybody had a present under the Christmas tree.  There was a present for everybody in the community – all the little kids and all the moms and dads and grandmas.  Everybody in the school got a present from the kids.  We spent all our recesses and the last half of our noon hours; everybody’d get up and run around the school two or three times and go to the little outdoor bathroom and then come in, and we’d work with the tools for the rest of recess and noon time and made all those things.
Q:        Sounds like the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories that the kids love so much.
GP:      I read those with such great joy and watched it on television ‘cause it was so like our kids days at school – carrying the little bucket with your milk in it to school.  I can remember one day it was my turn to carry the milk, and my foot went through the crust on the snow bank; the cover came off the pail, and I went (???) milk icicles hanging, and the kids all laughed.  So, Margaret looks at me and said, “No milk! From now on I carry the milk to school, and you carry the empty pail home.”  It didn’t bother me; I didn’t have a load.

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