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District #58 Schoolhouse
After District #58 schoolhouse was moved into Winnetoon, it was allowed to settle onto its new foundation and into its new surroundings until the following year. In the summer of 1999 it received a new roof. Then, the rotted part of the floor was replaced with old flooring, because new just wouldn’t blend in. For this same reason we scrounged to find old wainscoting to finish lining the bottom third of the walls.
It would be another year before any more progress was made. Joe used part of the original cellar steps to build an approach to the door. Although I was fussy about using old lumber, Joe insisted on plywood for the upper part of the walls and the ceiling. This made me cringe. Okay, but only after I painted the panels and decorated them with a stencil made from my prairie grasses. Certainly not authentic, but it made quite a statement and hid the plywood factor.
Work continued thru early 2002. There was so much to do…putting up blackboards, making window screens, polishing the brass doorknobs were only a few of the renovations. It seemed to go on and on. Finally, District #58 was as ready as we could make it.
Now, Reunion Time! I put ads in several local papers and with my Aunt Lavon’s help, personally contacted former students. The school had been closed 59 years. Would anyone come? Would anyone care? What would they think of the building?…the outside wasn’t repainted…the interior wasn’t original. Is it worth it?
It’s the DAY! Almost 2:00…and they came… from SD, WA and many from NE, over 60 in all, filling the building. A very alert 102 former student was brought by his 80 some year old children, who also attended this school. An 85 year old distant relative had asked her doctor to give her an extra dose of arthritis medication so she wouldn’t miss her school reunion. The little old schoolhouse buzzed. Some hadn’t seen each other for 65 years. They hardly noticed the building or me. Some had brought pictures and all brought memories.
Yes, it was worth it
...and, I was rewarded.
My cousins gave me the kindergarten table my Aunt Marie used at District #58. Her brother had made it. I so hoped it was Dad. As soon as I saw the table, I knew it was my Uncle Art. Dad and two of his brothers lived in CA for a few years. Art was offered a job with Walt Disney, before he was DISNEY. The cartoon characters Art painted on this little kindergarten table show why. But, I don’t know why he turned down the offer.
I had known for years that the school at one time had an organ, and I knew where it was. I just couldn’t convince the owner to sell it. My daughter took things in hand and behold, the organ has now been reunited with Dist. #58.