The elementary school I wenr to is gone now, like almost all the country or rural schools I suppose. I've been told it's too expensive to keep them open anymore, just too darn costly to keep those schools open, with their one room or two rooms.

The one I went to through 6th grade wasn't actually a "country school", not in the strictest sense of the word I suppose. After all, it was in town. But then, the town was only a couple hundred people or so.

There were 2 rooms, the "little" room for grades 1 through 3 and the "big" room for grades 4 through 6. There was a day, a little before me, when 8 grades attended the school. But then it was cut back to 6 and now, for over the last half-century or so, no grades at all. No school at all.

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There were 5 or 6 of us in each grade. My grade had me, Vernon, Lon, LeRoy, Craig, Wayne, and Eloyce. Eloyce was the only girl in our grade. Tough on her!

There was a big basement in that school, with cement walls and floor. And Wednesday was Bake Day. Each of us could bring a pot pie or a potato or whatever our Mom could put together. Into that oven downstairs and a hot lunch on Wednesdays. Ain't life grand!

Otherwise, it was the lunch pail to school, maybe a thermos of soup along with the sandwich and chips.

That basement had a stage and that's where the Christmas play was held each year. Mrs. Gunnink (little room) and Mrs. Eernissee (big room) would have us rehearse and rehearse until the big night. All our parents would come and we would put on a production fit for Broadway. (At least that's the way I remember it all these decades later)

Recess was "Red Rover, Red Rover", softball, tag, or maybe a game we would invent on the spot. Imagination was a beautiful thing. It seems that with age and technology we lose some of that.

And the bookmobile.

The bookmobile would show up, from that big town about 30 miles away, and into that van we would go. Magic lived in that bookmobile, magic with names like Laura Ingalls Wilder, L. Frank Baum and Dr. Seuss. You could travel to mystical, magical, historic places just with the turn of a page.

I'm sure there were tough times there too, but I don't remember much of them. I do recall sitting in the little room and Mrs. Gunnink coming into the room crying, saying the President had been shot. I remember Vernon's Mom coming into the room and taking him out of school. We found out his Grandpa had died.

But those memories are cloudy, misty, hazy. The good memories are bright, shining, and have a certain type of special sparkle.

That little 2 room school is gone now. Oh, the building is still there and still being used for a good purpose. But the school is long gone and I suppose largely forgotten..

Except in my head and in my heart. In those places, the school is open, bustling with kids.

I know it's too expensive these days to keep them open.

But in a way, it sure is expensive to close them down too.

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Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

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