Friday, April 10, 2009

Faculty Kids

The large houses along Faculty Lane and Columbia Avenue were occupied by families whose fathers served on the faculty of Concordia College for the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod). Faculty members had an option to receive free housing, which was allocated according to need, and so faculty members with large families were allocated large houses. Since these houses all belonged to the college and were large, the happy result was that a large number of children lived along those two streets. I would estimate that the average family had about four children and that about sixty children lived along Faculty Lane and Columbia Avenue.

We all knew all these families very well. I knew what all the fathers taught and where their offices were located on the campus. Practically all the mothers were housewives who stayed home, and I was inside all these homes and knew the mothers and all the brothers and sisters. I even slept overnight in many of the homes.

All these children attended St. John’s Elementary School and then attended Concordia High School, which was located on the campus. Many of the children then stayed and attended Concordia College. Since all the fathers and a few of the mothers taught in these schools, we children eventually knew many of the other parents as our own teachers.

St John’s school had two kinds of kids – faculty kids and non-faculty kids. All of us who lived on Faculty Lane and Columbia Avenue were faculty kids. We had a common lifestyle and similar families. The non-faculty kids had parents who worked in stores, on farms, in the town’s factory and other such miscellaneous businesses.

Some non-faculty kids had parents who worked at the college in non-academic positions. For example, cowgirl Jane Schlueter’s father managed the college’s facilities staff, which maintained the buildings. Steve Roetcher’s father managed the college store. Sue (last name?)’s father managed the college cafeteria, and Roy (last name?)’s mother was the head cook. I knew most of those parents too and sometimes had contacts with them on campus. I did not consider those kids to be faculty kids, however.

Each summer a couple of faculty picnics took place on the campus lawns across Faculty Lane from our houses. I think a lot of food was provided free by the college cafeteria, and the adults got to drink beer, so these picnics were well attended.

One occasional kids’ activity of these picnics was a crabapple fight. Directly across from our house there was a tennis court surrounded by a lot of crabapple trees. Crabapples are like large, hard cherries. After the picnics, we faculty kids would pull handfuls of these crabapples from

The fruit of a crabapple tree. The photo was taken from

the trees and throw them at each other and then stomp on the crabapples on the ground. We made a huge mess. It was really a bratty thing for us faculty kids to do. (A couple years after we moved in, these tennis courts were expanded, and so all these crabapple trees were removed.)

A crabapple tree. The photo is from

Faculty kids were allowed to attend college events for free. These events included sports games, plays, concerts, and so forth. When we passed by the cashier who was collecting admittance fees, we would say “faculty kid” and walk in without paying.

After graduation from eighth grade at St. John Elementary School, all of the faculty kids went on to attend Concordia High School, but most of the non-faculty kids went on to attend Seward’s public high school. About the only occasions when we faculty kids ever associated with public-school kids was in Pony League baseball teams and at the town’s swimming pool during the summers.

I knew a couple public-school kids also because I had a paper route. I met them at sales meetings or when I was paying my monthly collections to the town’s distributor. If I was delivering papers and saw one of those other kids, we sometimes would stop to chat. If, for example, I had a newspaper that was messed up and the other guy had an extra newspaper that was in good shape, then the other guy would give me his extra, good newspaper.

[Steve Sylwester wrote:]

Quite possibly, Koe [Heinicke; Steve's wife] is a stranger to some of you. Because her father then worked at Jones Bank, she was not a Faculty Brat. Though she lived just across the street from the CTC gymnasium and swimming pool, she did not have the same free-use privileges we Faculty Brats enjoyed — and she does not remember that fact with fondness.

Her best friend during childhood was "Faculty Brat" Ronda Kirch, who lived on Hillcrest across the street from the Byes (remember Kevin Bye: his dinosaur collection, his family's chickens, and Kevin's incessant saxophone practicing). Koe sometimes went swimming at CTC pool with Ronda, and also sometimes went to Link Library with her, but she was always plainly aware that she was not "Faculty."

Koe's grandfather Iddo Heinicke, Sr. was the pastor of Saint John Church in Seward for many years before he died in a tragic accident. In fact, he officiated when my Uncle Roland Sylwester married Verna Bickel (daughter of CTC Professor Bickel) in Seward approximately 60 years ago. Koe's father was a long-time executive with The Lutheran Church Extension Fund after leaving Jones Bank, and served on the Board of Regents at Concordia Seward for a long while. I share that information regarding Koe's family to establish that the non-"Faculty" population in Seward was not necessarily defined by Hughes Brothers employees and non-Lutherans.

Faculty Lane was an ultra-closed community (CTC) within a closed community (St.John Lutherans) within Seward. You might recall that very few public school kids lived on our side of town — almost none. In a usual case within the United States, parochial school kids are strangers in their own neighborhoods, sometimes complete social outcasts. That all of our neighbors for blocks and blocks around were our St. John School classmates is just unheard of anywhere.

[Mike wrote:]

I don't remember that the expression "faculty brat" being used much. I remember hearing it from some college kids occasionally, but I just thought they were trying to be funny.

The proper expression was "faculty kid."

No comments:

Post a Comment