School Days exhibit now open

March 17, 2008

Dassel Area Historical Society displays country school memorabilia

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Memories of country school days can be enjoyed at the Dassel Area Historical Society’s School Days exhibit now open.

Julie Lindquist, museum director, is hoping people will visit the exhibit and some of the photos and artifacts will jog their own school days memories.

On display are several pictures of rural and country schools throughout Meeker County. The first country school in the county was in Kingston Village.

There is even record of the Meeker County Board of Commissioners meeting from 1857, with the first order of business being, to set up three schools in the county. Property taxes would be allotted for them according to enrollment numbers.

Lindquist recalled her fond memories of attending District 77 near Lake Jennie. Her teacher was Helen Johnson, the mother of Jeanette Servin, a volunteer for the DAHS.

She remembers Miss Johnson as having such “exuberance” and being both a teacher and a mother-figure to Lindquist and her classmates.

Compared to other class photos, where the students are pictured sitting obediently in their desks, Lindquist’s class is shown standing up in a more relaxed setting.

During her country school days, Lindquist remembers her class trick-or-treating, sitting in the clover fields practicing spelling, and watching plays on a handbuilt stage.

“It was the most wonderful thing in the world,” she said.

Other schoolhouse memorabilia include old record books logging district activities and expenses including one dating back to 1889, from District 49 on the south side of Lake Jennie.

In addition, there are borrowed and donated schoolhouse items on display including a large map and globe from the Maynard Lake school.

Barb Kay and Amy Wilde both contributed old textbooks they’ve collected including a 1928 Primer lesson book for beginning readers.

“There was a time students had to buy their own books,” Lindquist said.

Teachers were paid about $200 for the school year. That included $15 for school supplies and wood to heat the schoolhouse, Lindquist explained.

For those students who did not walk to school, the exhibit shows pictures of early school transportation.

One photo, dating back to the early 1900s, is of a horse-drawn school bus, or what the Haapala family calls a bobsled with a cab. It even had a stove inside it, according to Lindquist.

Besides the country schools, Dassel school is well represented in this exhibit, including a chronology of the various Dassel school buildings beginning with the first one in 1870.

There was a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities in Dassel not only in sports, but theatre group and book clubs as well, Lindquist recalled.

Photos from these early activities can also be seen, such as the 1904 Dassel High School baseball team.

Also from Dassel are the early yearbooks, the Dazzler, featuring one from the graduating class of 1916.

With the several photos displayed, Lindquist is hoping visitors can help identify more of the people in them.

She also invites others to share their school days memories and photos.

“We don’t want those stories to be forgotten,” she said.

The exhibit is open during regular museum hours Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.

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