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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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One Room School Photos History Column Dave Petersen A favorite area of collecting of mine are one room school photos, class pictures and postcards, I can't tell you why they appeal to me, they just do. Maybe it's the period clothing, the pictures of everyone in their best school picture day outfit. Maybe it's the expressions on the faces of 25 or 30 youngsters who look like they are ready to bust at the seams. I can hear them saying "ARE WE DONE YET?" When you look over class photos of years gone by you can see every kind of expression imaginable, and it's hard not to imagine what might be going through their minds at the time. Among other things though class and school pictures are a veritable time capsule that preserves a way of life and teaching that has disappeared from our landscape and sometimes the only photos of family members when they were a child. There is something about being able to see ones parents, grandparents, and even the Great Grandparents as children that makes them more real, more human, not to say they are not but when we are children we grow up around them knowing them as adults and it's often much later before we realize that maybe they are kids trapped in a grown ups skin. Did they read Joe Palooka in the Sunday comics, play Flash Gordon in the playground at school, have Tillie the Toiler paper dolls? Pic#1 In this 1935 photo of Victory Town Hall School the youngster directly behind the sign with his hands folded and the pensive look is my father Richard (Dick) Petersen at 8 years old looking like he wants no part of what is happening. Ada Kirk is the teacher that year and some of the others in the class include Bud Anderson, Russell Anderson and Charles Hargraves. Victory Townhall school was on the Northwest corner of Victory and Stiles roads, and was in operation until 1955. Pic#2 The First Ward School was built in 1872, and replaced in 1886 with Lakeview School, on the corner of Haight and Gaylord Streets. Our photograph is showing the south entrance sometime after the 1909 renovation, this building was located in Ludington on the same site as the present Lakeview School, which was built in 1966. I remember walking down to the corner and watching as the school was demolished during the summer of 66 and even at that time I remember thinking that the architecture and history had to be important. I started the 3rd grade in the new building, still wish I had a camera that day to record the building on its last day. Pic#3 1912 is the date on this photo postcard of the Diamond School in Victory Township. Note the difference in the dress of the children in this earlier photograph, very neat prim and proper, a big difference in comparison to the photo taken in 1935 of Townhall school children in the middle of the great depression. Diamond School closed in 1939 and the building burned to the ground in 1944. A Great Aunt of mine, Ramona Peterson taught at that school, I wonder if any of her students recall her as a teacher? Pic# 4 I know that this doesn't qualify as a one room school photo but I found it hard to resist including it today. Does anyone care to identify this Longfellow third grade class in the 1959 and 1960 school year? You know who you are and I'm sure there are a few still in the area, maybe at a later date we can run the photo again with some good stories of what it was like that year to go to class in the old Longfellow School Building. There are a few things that we universally share in this Country with each other and with our immediate ancestors and one of them is our experiences in school. Whether you had a good experience or a bad one, you looked forward to it or dreaded it, there is a powerful connection there to our past and the past of our families. It's a snapshot of a time gone by and our times as children in school. I doubt that anyone reading today's column can do so without recalling some of those times, those teachers, that class, or the games played out on recess. Before the snows melt and we all get about the business of enjoying summer you might want to sit down with the kids or grandkids and share some of those old school stories and give a gift of one of your childhood memories to pass down. If you have any stories or photographs to share with our readers please feel free to call 77-3240 or email at davep@blackcreekpress.com

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