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Mason County Memories


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



david k petersen

A schoolgirl's memories History Column 234 Dave Petersen I received the following story and photograph from Shirley Dust recently and thought I would share it in its original form as told by Shirley of an event she witnessed many years ago. In the photograph dated 1935 you see the third fourth and fifth grades from Freesoil school. Shirley Rayle Dust is the second from the left in the row of girls, her sister Beverly Rayle Burdin is third from the right. Can anyone identify any others in this photo? Miss Olson is pictured on the far right. As told by Shirley Rayle Dust "We should have been asleep. We'd been quiet so long I'm sure our mom, dad and grandpa thought that we were. Our bedroom was just off Grandpa's study upstairs in the old Methodist Parsonage in the village of Freesoil. He usually sat in his black leather chair which swiveled around on a four legged pedestal, writing his sermons on a huge desk which featured a tall back with pigeon holes to hold his many manuscripts. "We always left the door open a little so we would know if Grandpa went downstairs before we fell asleep. Then if we heard strange voices, my sister and I would sneak out and peek down through the grill-work around the stove pipe of our wood-burning space heater to see if we had company. If our younger brother was still awake he would join us as well. "That night we almost missed it, because the conversation below was more quiet than usual. Grandpa had turned off his green gooseneck lamp, so we groped our way to the circle of light coming through the floor around the stove pipe. Since it was dark in the upstairs room, we would not be easily noticed from the floor below. "Our school teacher, Miss Olson, and a man we had never seen before were standing in our dining room and looking at each other just like those movie stars we had seen at the free shows last summer. The heating stove was at the end of the long room, directly beneath us. A small parlor opened up across from the stove and stairway, so we had a view of both rooms from our lofty look-out. "It took a few minutes for us to realize what was happening. Miss Olsen had on the prettiest dress I had ever seen her wear. . . light blue, shiny stuff. It looked like satin. The man had on a dark suit and a tie, like he was going to church or somewhere else important. Mama and Daddy had changed from their everyday clothes, too, and Grandpa had his bible and another little book in his hands. "They all went into the parlor and Mama and Daddy stood beside Miss Olson and her friend. Then Grandpa began to speak. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the presence of God"... For heaven's sake, our teacher was getting married! "Miss Olson, don't do that"! I almost shouted the words out loud. "Please. You know they won't hire you back if you're married". I knew my silent plea was useless as we tiptoed back to our bed to lie awake, both sobered and excited at what we had witnessed. I'm not sure whether we let it be known, or if it never was intended to be kept secret. All I remember is that Miss Olson, my favorite teacher, became Mrs. Goodrich that night and did not return to us the following year. "Of such events are memories made. As I walk by her headstone in the Scottville cemetery almost every Memorial day, I think of how her love and influence lingers on, no doubt as well, in the hearts of other students from our long ago time in that Freesoil elementary classroom." Thanks to Shirley for sharing her story with us this week. If you have any stories or photographs you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431

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