|Rolfe Alumni Essay|
|Vi Peers Schoon
524 Highway 58; Cave City, Arizona 72521-9690
Rolfe High School Class of 1948
From 5 to 18 years of age, old Rolfe High School was my favorite place. I always loved school and was always there in the little lobby waiting for them to open the door. I was never good in math. I guess because numbers always seemed uninteresting to me ... they always added up to the same thing. I could always see the method to solving problems but by making a stupid error in subtraction it was wrong anyway. I recall scarcely believing Miss Phares in 2nd grade when she insisted anything plus zero stayed the same. It was unreasonable to me that you could add on something, even a zero, and it would not change the sum. And Don Samuels never studied in physics but I had to memorize every line (because I never understood how the power got back to the back axle) so I could pass the tests by rote. Everything else I loved.
Neither of my parents had been able to go to school as long as they would have liked and so there was always that respect for books and knowledge. Our favorite game was "Reading-For-Mistakes," and since I was four years younger than the closest of my three sisters I always chafed at not getting to read. I loved Edna Marcum's assignments to make a map of the rooms in "The Masque of the Red Death" or hiding clues for a treasure hunt, like the "Gold Bug." I had read it all for pleasure from family books or my sisters' texts and was ready to dig in and study them. I later realized how the enjoyment was killed for a first time read by having to outline or look for meter. (I have never forgotten Miss Marcum's accenting the syllables and clapping softly as she recited, "This is the forest primaeval...")
Then came time for the thesis on Longfellow's works (assignment of little real value and a real pain to those who had no plans for college). Miss Marcum, who "taught no religion in my classes, but the more you know . . . ," assigned me the topic, "Religion." I was sure it was because she knew I no longer attended the Methodist church and was going through my agnostic period. When I took my index cards for the counseling session and she saw that I had made it a study of all religions and a comparison of their beliefs, she could scarcely cover her disappointment at my clinical approach. I welcomed her concern for my soul.
There were many things about Miss Marcum that I did not like, but we were taught respect for elders, especially authority figures. Imagine today allowing only boys to go forward to listen to sports events on a low-tuned radio or expecting girls to come through the blizzard but take off those slacks before you hit the assembly. I remember Shirley Fuller trying it and being promptly sent home to change. Luckily she lived next door. I wonder if someone who came on the bus had had the audacity it took, if they would have been made to sit all day long in a comer in the hall. Checking out to the library and hearing, "Stand. Pass," before filing to class and standing until ordered, "Seats, please," was probably good for us.
Speaking of blizzards, I remember when my sister (Audrey Peers Johnson, Manson, IA) and I were some of the few who had left home too early to hear they had canceled school for the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940? The weather was too bad to send us home. I went from Miss Hood's 5th grade room where I was a student to Miss Hendrickson’s room. What a thrill for me. She was Audrey's favorite and beloved teacher. I was so proud that charcoal drawings of playful kittens Audrey had done decorated three windows of her storage cabinet. Miss Hendrickson gave us things to do until we could be sent home.
Many of the things we took for granted and accepted would not work today or would bore the kids who are on their computers, or before their television sets. Sometimes I wish my grandchildren had the benefit of the naivete, the respect for the printed word and their language, the spirit for being original and using what you have at hand, or the horror of waste which became our second nature. Just to mention a few.
I am aware of the advantages of attending a large school, but I have always been glad mine was a little school in Iowa.
How many people remember the little gold, black and silver box in which Edna Marcum brought her lunch? In all the years when we ate in assembly before the hot lunch program, when she had noon duty and ate from that little box at a desk in the rear, I always wondered what had come in it originally and how she kept it for so many years.
I can remember the seating arrangement of each of us in the Senior year, of course, Rosie Brock and Phyllis Bradburn worked in the library and had no assigned assembly seats. For some reason I can only remember where I sat and my nearest neighbors in the three lower classes. Freshman year I was handy enough to Bob Fisher that I got the benefit of both first year Latin where I attended class and General Science where I was not in class but was prepared to be for Bob's sake. Junior year I recall sitting by Alberta Jacobson and Sam Lawson, and one day when Sam took a nap, the coach of that era made him stand by his seat and opened every window to the NW winter wind. When Superintendent Anderson came out of his government class, he was not pleased and gathered some boys to help him slam the windows all shut. This same coach embarrassed me totally the next year. Maurice McAnnich who sat behind me tapped my shoulder, and I turned and was giving him some help on some topic believing he had gotten permission to "speak." He had not. The coach came over and gave me a thorough dressing down while I wanted to evaporate into the floor boards. (I was not a student who disobeyed rules and was not accustomed to this. I had often marveled at how those who had endured Miss Marcum's stare as she rocked on the heels of her sensible shoes in total silence were able to bear up.) I knew that it was not fair that he scolded me when Maurice, the all-around athlete, got off scot free, but I could accept that. Maurice also surprised us with his talent for boogie-woogie piano which he performed at a few pep meetings with much coaxing. I wonder if he still plays.