Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Stairwell at Jesse Hall

I have been doing some browsing and working in Flickr, and I came across this photograph of a stairwell at Jesse Hall on the Concordia campus. Look at the shadow. Many people have passed by this scene over the years, but only one person photographed it.

Jesse Hall Stairs, Concordia University -- photo by Full Metal Photographer -- Image taken from

The Flickr link is here.

The photographer calls himself "Full Metal Photographer, but his real name apparently is Kelly Hoffart. He writes: "I took this picture in 2002 when I was taking a photography course at Concordia University." He is a superb photographer, as you can see from his blog. He also is a lawyer in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Singing the "Te Deum"

In addition to being able to recite the Six Chief Parts, every St John student in seventh and eighth grade could sing the entire Te Deum at a moment's notice. In fact, sometimes we did sing it at a moment's notice.

We praise thee, O God,
We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee,
The Father everlasting.

To Thee all angels cry aloud,
The Heavens and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.

Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.

The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee,
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man
Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.

We therefore pray thee, help thy servants
Whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage.

Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee,
And we worship thy name
Ever world without end.

Gene Meyer wrote:

While I too recall singing the Te Deum (music arranged by Jan Bender, a one time prof at Seward), I should also say that as a member of the A Capella Choir at Concordia Teachers College (as we were known then) in 1974, we sang the Te Deum on our World Tour as part of concerts in Europe and Asia. Those concerts included one for Indira Gandhi (Prime Minister of India) and another for Imelda Marcos (wife of President Marcos and owner of a lot of shoes) of the Philippines. Paul Rosel ("Rosie" as we nicknamed him, a one-time Faculty Lane resident) was the conductor. Steve Roettjer (St John connection) was also in the choir with me along with 60+ others.

I like this mellow, male-solo version of the Te Deum.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Toy Guns

Soon after my family moved to Faculty Lane -- when I was about eight years old in 1960 -- I got my first cap gun, which looked something like this.

A cap-gun pistol (closed). Image taken from

At that time the state of the art for cap guns was ammo in the form of roll caps.

Types of ammunition for cap guns. Image taken from

The gunman opened his pistol's ammo chamber, fit the roll over an internal wheel, and closed the chamber. Then every time you pulled the trigger, the roll would advance the next cap, and the hammer would hit that cap, causing a bang and releasing the smell of burnt gunpowder.

A cap-gun pistol (open). Image taken from

Oh, how I loved the smell of that burnt gunpowder! The smell is still a vivid memory.

We boys enjoyed that bang and smell so much that we would unravel a roll out onto the sidewalk and hit the caps with a rock.

Cap guns were mostly pistols, as I remember. Sure, there were cap-gun rifles too, but they were far less common than pistols, as I remember.

I think (I'm not sure) that this fascination with exploding caps is the reason why my brother Steve and my neighbor Dave Hackmann began to play with fire underneath the porch of our Sylwester home on Faculty Lane. (Some other kids might have participated, but I remember only Steve and Dave.) There was a dirt-floor, dark space underneath our porch, and I suppose we began by going into that space and shooting cap guns in order to see the sparks. Then we would have progressed to unraveling a cap roll onto a brick and hitting it with a rock to see lots more sparks.

Eventually we would make a small fire on the dirt floor and hold the ends of sticks in the fire. Then we would draw and write on the under-the-porch walls, using the burnt ends of the sticks as charcoal pencils. After we were done doing that for a while, then we would always extinguish the fire very carefully.

Of course, when my parents found out that we were doing this, they got all hysterical about how we might have burned down our house. But as I have told my parents a million times, WE WOULD ALWAYS EXTINGUISH THE FIRE VERY CAREFULLY!! So there was really nothing to worry about.

I clearly remember us setting these fires and writing with the carcoal on the walls under our porch at Faculty Lane, but I can't remember how or why we started doing so. The only explanation that makes sense to me now is that we started going under the porch in order to see the sparks from the cap rolls.

Pistols were fun because we could practice quick-draw techniques. Doing a quick-draw and firing a cap gun was much more realistic and difficult than doing a quick-draw and just yelling "BANG."

The television show The Rifleman starred a cowboy, Lukas McCain, who did quick-draws with his rifle and always won his gun fights. In every episode, he would kill a few bad guys by quick-drawing his rifle faster than they could quick-draw their pistols.

Rifleman poster. Image taken from

We kids were too little, though, to quick-draw a rifle. Lucas McCain was about 6'5" tall, so a rifle was relatively small for him to handle. His son Mark McCain -- like we Faculty Lane kids -- was big enough only to fire a rifle by the normal method. The only firearm we could quick-draw was a pistol.

Rifleman poster. Image taken from

In Seward there were essentially two kinds of boys. One kind of boy had parents who really trusted and loved them, parents who really wanted them to have fun, parents who did not want their own boys to be jealous of other boys, parents who knew how to raise boys right, parents who did not want their boys to cry themselves to sleep every night -- parents who let their boys have beebe guns. The other kind of boy unfortunately had parents who did not let their boys have beebe guns. I was the second kind of boy.

Beebe gun. Image taken from

Beebe guns were always rifles, as I remember. A boy with a beebe gun could shoot at a target -- such as a piece of cardboard nailed to a tree -- and really test and improve his aim. Then as he improved his aim, the boy could shoot pesky birds that were sitting on the lawns or in the trees.

Beebes were cheap. A cylinder container of beebes held dozens of beebes.

Beebe ammo cylinders. Image taken from
Beebes. Image taken from

I liked all the fuss involved with removing the beebes from these cylinder containers and loading them into the beebe guns. If you didn't do it right, then the beebes might fall down all over the place. So, you had to be fussy about doing it, and my heart broke every time I watched all this fussing being done by a boy who did own a beebe gun. How careful, responsible and grown-up he had to be, compared to me with my childish, stupid toy rifle!

My friend Jim Hardt was in the Boy Scouts, and he subscribed to Boys Life and another magazine or two of the same type. These magazines had a lot of advertisements for beebe guns, and when I visited him and browsed through his magazines, I always studied these beebe-gun advertisements with much envy.

Parents who did not let their kids have beebe guns always had the same excuse -- we might shoot someone's eye out. That excuse was absurd, in my opinion. The chance that you might hit another kid in his eye with a beebe was infinitesimally small. Even if the other kid was being a jerk and deserved to be shot, I would have shot him in his arm or back, not in his eye. Lots of kids -- like Toby Beck and Danny Janzow on our own Faculty Lane -- had beebe guns and didn't shoot anybody's eye out.

My Dad (I'm sure my Mom had nothing to do with this) did make me very happy one Christmas -- our first or second Christmas on Faculty Lane -- by giving me and my brother Steve drill-team rifles as presents, which was a total surprise. I think my Dad was tired of my nagging him for a beebe gun, so he figured he could divert us with drill-team rifles.

Our drill-team rifles were essentially high-quality toy rifles, made of real wood and metal, not of plastic. They came with illustrated instruction manuals that showed how to handle and manipulate them in armed drills. The manuals showed pictures of kids who belonged to clubs where they wore uniforms and did armed drills in parades. I wasn't able to find any old pictures of such rifle-drill clubs on the Internet, but I did find this video of a current club that shows the concept. The essential differences are that the club members in the video do not wear uniforms and include some girls.

Steve and I tried to teach ourselves rife-drill from our manuals for a while, but we didn't have any mentors or other kids to practice with, so we never developed the skills. Eventually we just used our drill-team rifles as combat rifles when we played War in the neighborhood. We just pointed the rifles and yelled "BANG BANG" as we ambushed and killed the other kids.

Poster from the movie Day of the Evil Gun. Image taken from

My brief exposure to rifle drill did continue to intrigue me, however. During 1962 and 1963 NBC had a situation comedy called McKeever and the Colonel about life in a military school for boys, and I always watched it with great interest. Whenever I saw the cadets doing rifle drills on this TV show, I envied those boys because they really were able to be in a rifle-drill team.

Poster for the TV serial McKeever and the Colonel. Image taken from

Many years later, I joined the US Air Force and went through basic military training first as an enlisted troop and then again as an officer cadet. On both occasions I learned and practiced march drill, which I loved a lot. We USAF pukes never drilled with rifles like the other military services, but just doing military march drill was always fun.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Trampoline in St John's Basement

I began attending St John elementary school in 1960, when I was in third grade. My most vivid memory of that school year is about an accident I suffered in the school's basement.

The basement had a large playroom for the younger grades -- I suppose from kindergarten through third grade. On days when the weather was too bad for kids to play outside, the younger grades played there and the older grades played in the gym. Probably none of you readers has any memory of that playroom, but I do because of my accident.

The room was large enough for a lot of little kids to run around in it. When you walked in through the door, there was a trampoline in the near-left corner. Mostly the girls jumped on the trampoline, and so a lot of girls usually were standing around the trampoline.

The boys mostly played games with rubber balls. Beyond the trampoline, at the room's far-left corner, there was a wall area that was defined. Maybe that wall area was recessed or maybe a building column stood in the middle of that wall.

Anyway, one game that the boys played was that a few boys stood along the wall in that area and other boys stood in the middle of the room and threw rubber balls at them. If a ball hit a boy, then that boy was "out".

I was participating in or watching this game, and a rubber ball bounced away and then rolled underneath the trampoline. I ran after the ball and then crawled underneath the trampoline to grab it. Of course, the girl bouncing on the trampoline bounced down onto my head, and the impact knocked my chin down hard onto the floor. My chin was cut, and I bled profusely. The impact on my head hurt more than my chin, though. I was quite stunned by the head impact.

Some adult at the school gave me first aid and called my Mom, who came in her car. Meanwhile, the school janitor picked me up and carried me outside and put me in the car. My Mom drove me to the hospital ward, where a doctor stitched up my cut.

Perhaps the school removed that trampoline from the playroom after my accident, but I don't know. Because of potential liability, I suppose that no school in the country now has a trampoline in a playroom where kids of such a young age can jump on it freely. In those days, though, having a trampoline in that playroom seemed like a good idea to everyone.

I still have a scar on my chin from that accident. It isn't visible now, though, because I wear a beard.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

St John Hi Lights, October 1967

Thanks to Steve Sylwester for keeping and to Eva Sylwester for scanning this October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, St John's school newspaper.

Page 1 of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.

St. Johns Lutheran School ... Seward, Nebraska ... October, Ebenezer Year

Eph. 2:8
By Grace

Are Ye
Saved Through Faith

Page 2 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 2 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


HI-LIGHTS has asked me to comment on Ephesians 2:8 for this issue of the school paper. The passage reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” (RSV) That our salvation is due to God’s generosity is a heavy emphasis in Ephesians. St. Paul had just said that we are saved by grace in verse 5. Now he elaborates. As far as God is concerned salvation is by His grace, that is, His goodness and love. As far as man is concerned salvation is received by faith. These are the two important points. That this might not be misunderstood Paul adds, “and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” If salvation (including everything that belongs to it, like coming to faith) is by grace, then it’s certain it it cannot be by our works. And if we receive it by faith, then it cannot become ours by purchase. Without God’s generosity salvation would never be ours.

The major blessing of the Reformation centers in this understanding of our salvation. It is a gift of God. He loves us and gives us eternal life. This central message of the Christian Church had been obscured and neglected by the church in Luther’s day and he worked hard to restore it to its central place in the life of the church.

What Paul tells us in Ephesians about salvation is taught in many other places in the Bible. “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6, 23. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:11.

The way to respond to a gift is to say “Than You!” We say “thank you” for God’s gift of salvation when we respect God’s will, seek to do it, and share the message of His love with others.

Pastor Heidemann


St. John’s students participated in a music workshop on Saturday, October 7, at the Concordia Music Center. Several children from every grade were used in demonstrating “The Total Music Program” which was the theme of the workshop. Teachers and college students gathered to hear Dr. Sally Monsour of the University of Colorado at Boulder tell about her ideas in music education. She is a specialist in this field.

During the workshop, Dr. Monsour taught the children a “feel” for music. They learned to listen for rhythms and discovered the moods and ideas in a piece of music.

Chris Luebke, 8b


The new Patrol Boys for this year have started out doing a wonderful job. The boys are from grade 6, 7, and 8. The captain is Wesley Toenniges, and the co-captain is Phillip Duensing. The others are as follows: Kevin Bye, David Dorpat, Todd Bye, Doug Rolfsmeier, Lanny Hans, Stan Bolte, Tim Roussell, Colby Bartholomew and Brad Peter.

Also now this year are girls on the Patrol team. They put up the flag and other odd jobs.

We hope that the people on the patrol will continue their good work and that God would guide them in their work.

Linda Hardt, editor


We would like to thank these teachers: Mr. Lemke, Mrs. Prochnow, Mr. Heinicke, Mr. Schmieding, Mr. Zimbrick, Mr. Meyer, Mr. Giesselmann, Mr. Peter, and Mrs. Lemke because they substituted for us while Mrs. Koch was gone to the hospital.

I’m surprised that so many teachers came to help out.

It as so nice when Mrs. Koch came back because then we got straightened out.

Jeanette Meyer, 6a


In our last issue of HI-LIGHTS we forgot to welcome all the newcomers at St. Johns.

We already have had four children leave St. John’s. Their names and grades are: Lorraine (8) & Carl (4) Burkett; Laura Backhus & Jane Skokan (kindergarten). We wish them God’s Blessing.

Ronda Kirch, news editor

Page 3 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 3 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


Dr. Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg 450 years ago. That was the beginning of the Reformation which we celebrate this month. He translated the Bible into the German language so the common people could read it. He was a great preacher and writer. He was the father of six children.

Sheryl Petri, 3a


“The just shall live by faith,” said Paul. Luther made it known. Luther made our Bible an open book. If Luther hadn’t found Romans 1:17, why we might be still doing good works or buying paper for salvation. Remember, Luther made our BIBLE an OPEN book.

Billy Heinicke, 4b


One day we had a surprise. The seventh grade came to our room. They had a wonderful story. Do you know of a man who was afraid of God? His name was Martin Luther. The first time he saw a Bible was when he was in a library. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” he read.

Tabby Bundenthal, 2b


I was born on the eleventh of October and what else? I as baptized on the eleventh of October just like Martin Luther. I was lost from God but then I came back to God. Not by working very hard, but only by faith.

Johanna Stohs, 2b


Perhaps you have been wondering what goes on in 5b because two people have their arm in a cast. Well, nothing has happened in class but a couple arms got in the way at home. Jan Christian broke her left arm while giving Bettina Roundey a piggy back ride and Peter Graff broke his when he fell out of a tree-house. Both breaks are mending nicely and the arms will be as good as new very soon.


Oct. 19 – 21 ... CTC Homecoming
Oct 23 – 25 ..... NO SCHOOL – Teachers convention
Oct 31 ............. Reformation service at school


Our mothers always have us looking so nice – and no doubt, our daddies often help. They send us off to Kindergarten with a kiss and a big smile. They do so many things that make us glad – But only God gives us a nice clean heart every day, and only God takes us to heaven because our Savior Jesus died.

Many things make us glad in Kindergarten – autumn leaves, pets, oh, oh, oh – we had a real live monkey, and an opossum, rabbits, cats, and a dog. – We make up stories about them. We draw pictures of them. –

And oh – we have had fire truck rides. Hurrah!


We have 10 girls and 12 boys in our room. LeDeana Roller is new in our school this year. We are glad to have her here. Mrs. Mannigel is our student teacher. She will be here for four weeks.

On Sunday, October 22 at 11:00 a.m. we will sing in church for the first time. We are happy to praise God in church too. Now we are studying about Martin Luther. Soon we will help celebrate the 450th birthday of the Reformation.

One of the best and most exciting things in our room is learning to read. We have already read a whole book.

Everyday we have many visitors. Most of them are students from CTC. Sometimes they help us too.


October has brought several colorful and interesting things to the first grade. Steve Kreieser, who now had mumps, was kind enough to bring us pumpkins, leaves, fall flowers, and gourds to use in a fall display. It was especially nice since he brought a gourd for each one of us to take home. We thank him.

Animal life has also been plentiful. Besides the 2 chrysallis’s we are watching we also were lucky to have 2 baby pigeons brought by Clint Duer and a huge white rabbit which belonged to Gary Johnson. We enjoyed them especially when they could make more noise than our class. A colorful butterfly visited for several days, but we let him go so he could find food and a home.

In Art the class and I have made straw pictures. We had fun too.

David Streufert, 2a

Page 4 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 4 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


Here at St. John’s a new method is being used to teach eighth grade science. It’s called I.P.S. (Introductory Physical Science). Instead of just discussing science as we did last year, we do the experiments and find out for ourselves. Almost everything we need can be clamped to the pegboard that came with the kit. We are also supplied with balancers to weigh out the materials we are working with. Right now we are discovering what density is.

Alan Christian, 8b


We had a turkey! a lobster! a rat nursery! guinea pig! a turtle! fish! a crawdaddy! monkey! pigeon! duck! And what do you think of that!

Ellen Uhlig, 2b


A Feather is a very little thing. It is not very big. But if you look so very closely, you’ll see the bristles. There are more than you see. There are more than 7000 little! little! little! germs. What a lot of things you find out by looking at feathers!

Howard Christian, 2b


We had a lot of fun in health one day. My teacher brought some fruit and vegetables. We would sit in a chair blindfolded and he would put something in our mouth. We would tell him, what we got. Some people got onion and pepper. I got an apple and a lemon.

Joel Klammer, 5b


Two days ago was class election day. We voted James Ficken, president; Marsha Kamprath, secretary; Peter Graff, Secretary of Defense; Dale Deremer, Science Manager; Sueann Beckman, Secretary of Public Relations; Paul Kolterman, man in charge of A.V.; Jan Christian and Steve Kraft, Postal Secretaries; Kenny Kupke, Vice President. Every six weeks we vote again.

Mary Einspahr, 5b


In 7b we are studying about the Book of Esther in social studies. We are going to make a bulletin board. The book of Esther is about a man named Haman who wanted everyone to bow down to him. But Mordecai, a Jew, would not bow down. So they set a date for all the Jews to die. If you want to find out what happened read the Book of Esther in the Old Testament.

Denise Schulz, 7b


Devotions in 8a are probably done differently than in any other room. First, people are selected to have a devotion for each day. Then after a hymn is sung, the person that is having the devotion holds up a Chrismon – a symbol that is used on the Christmas tree in the church. The person then tells about the meaning of the Chrismon. After all is explained about the Chrismon a Bible Reading and a prayer is said.

Richard Bahr, 8a


Four B invites you to come to its Bible display. We have Bibles in different languages. It will be fun for everyone to see them. Come everyone.

Michael Marino, 4b


Yes, the eighth graders need more experience in describing objects.

Mrs. Pralle gave us an assignment to describe an object. The other class had to draw the object from our descriptions. We also had the pleasure of drawing what they had described. Only a few came out to be exactly right. The majority were ridiculous.


Tuesday afternoon 7b went to the second grade (Mrs. Godemann’s room) and first we entered with the singing of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”. I was playing the trumpet. After we were done with that we taught some of the little children the first verse of it. Then some girls came to the front and explained some pictures they had brought. Mark Stadsklev read a psalm. We then finished our devotion for the second grade.

Philip Duensing, 7b


If you are reading this article – hurray for you! If you think the school paper isn’t worth reading you are mistaken. This year the paper has many new things in it. One of them is the classified ads.

Ronda Kirch, 8a

Page 5 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 5 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


We are learning about the Indians and how they make their houses. We are learning about many other people.

Brenda Peter, 2a


In Social Studies we have been studying about the thirteen colonies. Mrs. Prochnow has made it very interesting. Some of the ways she has done is by letting us make tapes about what we have read. Then she played it back to us. She also has taken maps and numbered places, then we must write down each location. Another time she put questions up around the room and we had to answer them.

Nancy Schulz, 8b


In 5a we are teaching the class. Four people take a state. Then they find things about it. When they are all ready they report to the class.

Donna Warnsholz, 5a


During Social Studies, October 6 the eighth grade had a map test. This was not an ordinary map test but a test in which we went about the room to six different locations. At each location there was a map and on our paper we had to fill in the correct space with the correct word.

Diane Uhlig, 8a


We visited the courthouse October 3. We saw the county judge. We talked to him. We went to talk to the sheriff. He told us he had three people in jail. We looked out the window. We were really high in the building.

Connie Snodgrass, 3b


Friday the 13th was a big day for 6a because we had a Mexican fiesta.

Mrs. Zimbrick cooked some Mexican food for us to sample. We had piƱata which we broke. We learned some Mexican games, songs, dances.

We are glad we ere able to have this fiesta, not only because it was fun but it helped us in learning about Mexico.

Mark Schultz, 6a


In social studies we are learning about Mexico. We learned our Spanish names. Mine is Paco.

Jackie Stutzman, 6a


One day Mrs. Pfeiffer said, “We are going to paint.” It took a while to get out the paint, paper, and things but it was worth it. I painted a picture of a little house in the woods. Ann Streufert painted a design. A lot of people painted pictures. You may come to our room and see them. Third graders enjoy painting!

Melanie Martens, 3a


The 7th grade boys are carving all kinds of odd objects out of a mixture of plaster and dirt in their art class. They are carving dragons, devils, two headed turtles, and all kinds of abstract art. Some of the children are done and have given their object coats of hot turpentine and melted wax as a final step to make it glossy.

Allen Pozehl, 7


The first week in October the 7th and 8th grade girls went to see some art exhibits over at the college. Mr. Marxhausen, Mr. Wolfram, and Mr. Wiegman. We were very happy to see these exhibits and we wish to thank Mr. Marxhausen for showing them to us.

Jane Brinkmeyer, 8b


We are making gesture sketches in art. We use black ink, pencils, and sticks with black ink on them. We have art once a week. We gesture sketch and use them when we make a big picture.

Matt Rutledge, 6a


This Monday we started sketching the tree without the leaves. We went over to the half moon circle to sketch the trees. They were very interesting ones. Mr. Meyer gave us five sheets of paper each, with a piece of cardboard underneath it. He told us we could take them home and sketch the trees we wanted to. Have fun in art everyone.

Cathy Schultz, 5a

Page 6 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 6 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


On last Monday when it was bright & gay
Donie Dixon went out to play
He got a brainstorm, a fiendish plan in mind;
For he hated bees of every kind.

He remembered last summer on a hike;
A year ago when he was a little tike:
Perched up in the lofty trees
Was a bee-house plum full of bees.

Donie thought it over in a professor-like way,
“Should he go or should he stay?”
It didn’t take long to decide;
He’d be gone before noontide.

On the following Tuesday morn
He woke up when day was born;
He stretched his arms most heartily,
For today he was going to find that certain tree.

His list of provisions read:
One slice solomy between two pieces of bread,
One shotgun with ten shells for shooting,
And one glass jar for honey-looting.

He came to the place he had often remembered;
Faintly above him the buzz he heard.
At this time he dropped to his knees
And aimed his gun at the lofty trees.

A loud bang rang through out the forest.
He had hit broadside of the nest.
Then one after one the bees began to appear.
He stood and rant for he knew his END near.

The moral of the story
As you may see;
He who has a fiendish mind
Is a devil of our kind.

John Streufert, 6a


The classroom is all quite now,
Holy cow, my-oh-wow!
They all went home.
Except poor old Jerome.

And why did Jerome stay?
Well, he’s kind of in a crazy way.
Jerome’s a wasp, a crazy one,
And surely he is not so fun.

Beth Daenzer, 6a


Big hairy
Clever friendly helpful
Moving in a web

Luther Stohs, 4a

Terrific, radiant
Prize winner pig
Helpful, humble,
Kind, gentle
W I L B E R.

Cynthia Schulz, 4a


In 1942
A land came into view
By Columbus and his crew.

Many years before
The vikings stepped on shore
Then supplies they needed more.

America’s the land
On which we all now stand
And it is really grand.

Cindy Bundenthal, 8a



1 lockof hair from that all-American half back, Kevan Stepp. (About 15 strands)

1 solid gold tie clip from that World-wide playboy, Richard Bahr.

1½ inner tubes from a green fastback bicycle ridden by the Teddybear as she is called in her secret identity.

1 cubic inch of brain matter from that famous genius Paul Koehler.

1 yard of speed from that track star, Bill Heine.

11¾ fruit loops from shirts of that famous novelist David Cloeter.

1 tennis shoe from that all around sports star, Gary Faszholz.

Blend all ingredients into 10 gallon kettle, except the shoe. Add 5 gallons of water, heat with open fire, for seasoning, add the shoe. Pour off water into bowls, then eat. (Be sure to cook at mid-night.)

Fred Baade, 8a

Page 7 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 7 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


Halloween is very fun.
You may dress up as a queen.
You may dress up as a dog.
Or even as a frog.
You may get some candy
To make you fat and dandy.

Debbie Dorpat,4b

Orange leaves on the trees,
Cider at Halloween parties;
Theses nailed upon the door,
October means fun galore;
Branches with their leaves all gone,
Everybody raking a lawn,
Reddening skies when it’s dawn:

Jon Moravec, 6b


My chicken went cockadoodledoo
And then he caught the flu
He ate some feed
It made him turn tweed
And that was the end of his flu.

James Ficken, 5b


When the wind blows I feel it on my toes.
The leaves turn red and soon are dead.
I jump in leaf piles with my brother Giles.
Oh, how fall is such a wonderful thing.
It makes everybody want to sing.

Sheri Snodgrass, 4b


Nature at it’s best
The wind drifts softly through the trees,
So quietly, so quietly.
The sun is peering through the heavens,
Very warmly, very warmly.
Down to earth the leaves are falling,
Softly, so very gently, softly.
The clouds run by with great appeal.
White and fluffy, white and fluffy.

Kay Pollock, 8a


Leaves! Leaves! Falling to the ground.
Leaves! Leaves! Scattering all around.
Leaves! Leave! Violet – orange – blue.
Very pretty colors all around you.

Tim Preuss, 2b


Pretty falling [illegible] to turning bright,
From what you [illegible] quite a sight.
Leaves that are falling, brown, yellow, and green,
These are the prettiest colors seen.

Nancy Curtis, 6b


I like it when its cold.
And my nose gets red.
I like it when its cold
But I’d rather be in bed.
When the autumn leaves fall,
All red, yellow, and brown,
They whirl around our wall.
Until they touch the ground.
I like it in the Fall.

Ann Streufert, 3a


Drawings of a numbered maze and of school mascot Foxy from Page 7 of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.

Try to get to the center where the opening is placed with a number. When you get to the center all numbers that were in the opening you went through it must add up to 17. Try it.

Lee Meyer, 5a

Coffee – something your parents need in the morning before you make any noise.

Jesi [illegible], 4b

Drawing of perch perched on fishing pole, in Page 7 of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


by Jon Moravec, 6b

Page 8 (top part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. Page 8 (bottom part) of the October 1967 issue of Hi Lights, the student newspaper of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.


We have anew girl in 3B. Her name is Margo Johnson. Margo has two brothers. One is Merle. He is 13. The other one is Mark. He is 16. They used to live in Milwaukee. I hope Margo likes St. John’s. And I hope Margo likes Seward. May God Bless Margo.

Mary Rosin, 3b

We neglected to mention last month that Janet Robinson is new to our room and our school. Even though she is well acquainted by now, we still want to say a belated “welcome” to her.

Mrs. Godemann, 2a

Orval Roller is new in our class. He went to the public school in Staplehurst. Dean is his father. He works at the Vickers Station, one and one half blocks away from Main Street.

Kent Imig, 3b


The boys in third grade have been playing football. Mr. Mannigel helped us. Some of the rules in football are that you are not supposed to run over the spot where the center hiked the ball and then passed the ball. Then the team that made the penalty would have a five yard loss. Another rule is called “off sides.” If someone goes across the spot where the center is going to hike, then it also is a five yard loss or gain. Is football fun? We think so.

Eric Heinicke, 3a


That is how the St. John’s football players felt Friday, Oct.6 as rain cancelled the football game we had scheduled here against Utica. Although the game was cancelled it will be made up sometime before the end of the football season.

The previous Wednesday the CHS freshmen came back to try again to beat us, but couldn’t quite do it. Even so, the game was closer than the last one. This game’s score being 26-12. The freshmen have been under the instruction of two college coaches ever since we beat them last month 33-0.

John Lemke, boy’s sports editor


Please put your opinions about the paper in Mrs. Pralle’s box in the office.


The series of events this year includes basketball, deck tennis, soccer, dodgeball and volleyball.

Basketball and dodgeball are all-time favorites for most sport-minded girls in the 7th and 8th grades. One girl commented that she didn’t think the girls would ever get tired of these games.

Deck tennis and volleyball are new for the seventh graders and soccer is a new experience for all. Most of us agree that new games can be just as much fun as other games that the girls have already learned and still enjoy.

Mary Mueller, girl’s sports editor


We are learning the side-straddle hop. It is fun. I like to do it. We like to do it. We practice in the gym.

Becky Hemsath, 2a


I want to sell a model at the price of $1.25. It is a Ford Falcon with clicks, drag motor, and a paint job.

Tom Richters, 5a

I would like to know if anyone has any white mice for sale. I would like to buy two to four white mice.

Pat Hardt, 5b

Want to sell a B-B gun pistol in good condition, 12 shot repeater. You may look at it if you wish. Price is $5.00. Call Stan Bolte 9109 or see me at school.

Free baby rabbits!

If you want some see or call Joel Klammer, 5b.

I will sell polished rocks, any shape any size – 3 for 10¢. Come to 6a at 8 to 8:15 in the morning. Matt Rutledge 6a

At 1750 Meadow Lane there are some weights for $10.00 – 25 to 1¼ pound weights. Hurry before we are sold out!

Mike Atkinson, 5b

Would you like some guppies? Jacobson’s are giving them away. If you would like some, call 4047 after 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reciting the Six Chief Parts

When Herman Schmieding taught sixth grade,

Herman Shmieding, sixth-grade teacher at St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska. The image was scanned from the faculty page in the the 1965-1966 yearbook.

each student individually had to recite the Lutheran Small Catechism's Six Chief Parts by memory in front of the entire class. If a student made more than three mistakes in the recitation, then he had to repeat the recitation on a following day.

When the students eventually became able to do this recitation, then every day we usually would listen to one or two students do the recitation until all the students had their turns. Only a couple of students made four or more mistakes and so had to repeat the recitation.


You shall have no other gods.
What does this mean?
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not use his name to curse, swear, lie or deceive, or use witchcraft, but call upon God's name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but regard it as holy, and gladly hear and learn it.

Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not dishonor or anger our parents and others in authority, but honor, serve, and obey them, and give them love and respect.

You shall not murder.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.

You shall not commit adultery.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we lead a pure and decent life in words and actions, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.

You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not take our neighbor's money or property or get it by dishonest dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and means of income.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house or obtain it by a show of right, but do all we can to help him keep it.

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, workers, animals, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not force or entice away our neighbor's spouse, workers, or animals, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

What does God say about all these commandments?
He says, "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who transgress these commandments. Therefore we should fear his anger and not disobey what he commands. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore we should love and trust in him, and gladly obey what he commands.


I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God created me and all that exists, and that he gave me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my mind and all my abilities. And I believe that God still preserves me by richly and daily providing clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, cattle, and all I own, and all I need to keep my body and life. God also preserves me by defending me against all danger, guarding and protecting me from all evil. All this God does only because he is my good and merciful Father in heaven, and not because I have earned or deserved it. For all this I ought to thank and praise, to serve and obey him.
This is most certainly true.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.
He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.
All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.
This is most certainly true.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him.
But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian Church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers.
On the Last Day he will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
This is most certainly true.


Our Father in heaven,
What does this mean?
With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true Father and that we are his true children, so that we may pray to him as boldly and confidently as dear children ask their dear father.

Hallowed be your name.
What does this mean?
God's name is certainly holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it holy.
How is God's name kept holy?
God's name is kept holy when his Word is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches and lives contrary to God's Word dishonors God's name among us. Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!

Your kingdom come.
What does this mean?
God's kingdom certainly comes by itself even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.
How does God's kingdom come?
God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and lead a godly life now on earth and forever in heaven.

Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
What does this mean?
God's good and gracious will certainly is done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
How is God's will done?
God's will is done when he breaks and defeats every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, which try to prevent us from keeping God's name holy and letting his kingdom come. And God's will is done when he strengthens and keeps us firm in his Word and in the faith as long as we live. This is his good and gracious will.

Give us today our daily bread.
What does this mean?
God surely gives daily bread without our asking, even to all the wicked, but we pray in this petition that he would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What, then, is meant by daily bread?
Daily bread includes everything that we need for our bodily welfare, such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins or because of them deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we deserved them, but we ask that he would give them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.
So we too will forgive from the heart and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.

But deliver us from evil.
What does this mean?
In conclusion we pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil that threatens body and soul, property and reputation, and finally when our last hour comes, grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.
What does this mean?
We can be sure that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and are heard by him, for he himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Therefore we say, "Amen," "Yes, it shall be so."


What is Baptism?
Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water used by God's command and connected with God's Word.
Which is that Word of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!"

What does Baptism do for us?
Baptism works forgiveness of sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. What are these words and promises of God? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

How can water do such great things?
It is certainly not the water that does such things, but God's Word which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts this Word used with the water. For without God's Word the water is just plain water and not baptism. But with this Word it is baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit.
Where is this written?
St. Paul says in Titus, chapter 3, "God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.

What does baptizing with water mean?
Baptism means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance, and that all its evil deeds and desires be put to death. It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul says in Romans, chapter 6, "We were buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."


What is the use of the Keys?
The use of the Keys is that special power and right which Christ gave to his church on earth, to forgive the sins of penitent sinners but to refuse forgiveness to the impenitent as long as they do not repent.
Where is this written?
The holy Evangelist John writes in chapter 20, "Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

How does a Christian congregation use the Keys?
A Christian congregation with its called servant of Christ uses the Keys in accordance with Christ's command by forgiving those who repent of their sin and are willing to amend, and by excluding from the congregation those who are plainly impenitent that they may repent. I believe that, when this is done, it is as valid and certain in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us himself.
Where is this written?
Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 18, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

What is Confession?
Confession has two parts. The one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the pastor as from God himself, not doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thus forgiven before God in heaven.
What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. But before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.
How can we recognize these sins?
Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, employer or employee? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you hurt anyone by word or deed? Have you been dishonest, careless, wasteful, or done other wrong?
How will the pastor assure a penitent sinner of forgiveness?
He will say, "By the authority of Christ, I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."


What is the sacrament of Holy Communion?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ for us Christians to eat and to drink.
Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Apostle Paul tell us: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

What blessing do we receive through this eating and drinking and drinking?
That is shown us by these words, "Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins." Through these words we receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in this sacrament. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can eating and drinking do such great things?
It is certainly not the eating and drinking that does such things, but the words, "Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. "These words are the main thing in this sacrament, along with the eating and drinking. And whoever believes these words has what they plainly say, the forgiveness of sins.

Who, then, is properly prepared to receive this sacrament?
Fasting and other outward preparations may serve a good purpose, but he is properly prepared who believes these words, "Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins." But whoever does not believe these words or doubts them is not prepared, because the words "for you" require nothing but hearts that believe.

I don't know whether sixth graders had to recite the Six Chief Parts after Mr. Schmieding retired. My brother Steve Sylwester was in the last class that Mr. Shmieding taught. This was the sixth-grade class of 1965-1966. I would like to know whether any later classes were assigned to do this recitation.

Can you imagine a current teacher assigning such a task to a class of sixth graders? Can you imagine a current class of sixth graders accepting and then accomplishing such an assignment?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gene Meyer Remembers

Our family lived at 773 Columbia Ave from the time I was four until I was 12. We then moved to an entirely different neighborhood…about three blocks away. Nonetheless, it was clear we weren’t part of the Faculty Lane / Columbia Ave scene after 1963. Our family was originated in Seward, that is, my siblings and I were born in Seward and each graduated from local high schools, unlike many faculty kids who came and went. There were few of us -- Hardts, Curtis, Uhlig, Schuleter -- but we were the regulars.

How does one go through organizing the recollections of the past? Perhaps by season, by topic or my fail-safe method, by year.

Gene Meyer pictured as a member of the eighth grade in the 1965-1966 yearbook of St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska

During the summer of 1955 or 1956, the “new school” was being constructed. As a three- or four-year-old, I was injured because I ran into a bundle of wire at the construction site while a bunch of kids were playing catch Donn. Donn Kaiser was probably 11 or 12 at the time, but he and Danny Juergensen were the oldest in the neighborhood. His younger brother, Roger, was about eight, and his younger sister Karen was a year older than me. For some reason, after supper, kids would congregate near the school playground, which was only two houses away for me. Those kids included the Curtises (Steve, Susan), the Kaisers (Donn, Roger, Karen), my older sister and brother (Lois,Alan) and others. One night, the group of younger kids played sort of a hide-and-go-seek game, but it transformed into a game of trying to catch Donn. He woud loop around the school, and the rest of us would run to catch him. At some point, I ran too close to a bundle of wire. The next thing I know, Donn was carrying me back to my house, and shortly thereafter I was carried to the hospital for several stitches. Pretty traumatic for a four-year-old.

During the years before kindergarten, I recall playing in the sandpile in our backyard, playing in the “draw”, which was an area west of the school between 2nd Street and Hillcrest. There were large weeping willows and several large trees that had been felled, but not carted away. The area was field grass and we could lie down in the field grass and be completely hidden from anyone looking at the field. You could pull up cane stalks and pretend they were spears. You could pick milk weed pods and blow the fluff in the wind. You could ask mom to pack a lunch (with milk in a glass ketsup bottle) to have supper in the “fort” which consisted of sticks leaning on one of the felled trees.

My most consistent playmate in those years was Karen Kaiser, our next-door neighbor. Once and a while, Bill Schwich would comeover and we’d play cops and robbers by beating up pillows on our sofa. Playing outside until the street lights came on, catching lightening bugs and running after the City of Seward bug sprayer were all part of normal life.

In Kindergarten, Miss Maehr was our teacher. We went for ½ days in the afternoon. We were one of the first classes in the new school. Ken Uhlig was a classmate who could step over the back of the chair to sit down, so we immediately nicknamed him “daddy long legs”. Miss Maehr had a practice of identifying one child as the leader for each day. That child got to 1) blow the candle out after morning devotion, 2) do special errands for Miss Maehr like find her book for the day, and most importantly 3) be first in line to exit to gym, recess or anything else we had to line up for. Being leader for the day was a big deal. During that year, a classmate of mine, Susan Wilbert, died, though I can recall little of it except that later our class got a special star-shaped wooden altar. The Wilberts lived on Faculty Lane -- I think where the Hackmanns eventually lived.

Miss Maehr loved art and tried to plant the seeds of creativity in her troops. She used to have each class make a plaster-of-paris life-size animal, she tried to get us to use water colors or crayons to express ourselves on a blank sheet of paper. Those seeds may have been planted, but they didn’t bloom in me.

The Christmas Eve service, held in the Seward Jr High, kintergardeners traditionally sang Jesus Loves Me while dressed as angels. I can remember our family always ate clear red and jello and whipped cream prior to the service. Then afterwards, our family would drive around town to look at the lights, driving us all a little nuts, since it was post-poning the time to open presents.

In first grade, my teacher was Miss Grotelueschen. She tried to inspire the logical, scientific, mathmetical approach. I recall she showed us how rain formed by taking us to the cafeteria and holding a glass pan with ice water in it above a steaming pot of water. We could see the three forms of water -- liquid, gas, solid -- and also evaporation and condensation. She also showed us how when water freezes the ice expands, by placing a glass of water outside the window in January. The next day, the glass was broken. This was also the first year I was part of an Operetta. Ours was today’s non-politically correct Little Black Sambo in which Jim Hardt, Bill Schwich and I played monkeys, complete with home-made costumes.

My second-grade teacher was Miss Mielke. She was emotional about her faith and drew her kids into her emotion when she explained the Bible verses and stories. She also taught us cursive writing and had a selected person read from a book of their choosing during the period after lunch. She was my favorite teacher in grade school. Another memory of that time was that on most kids' birthdays, the kid’s mom would bring a treat (cupcake) for the entire class at the end of the day. Each class also had a Room Mother, whose duties seemed mysterious, yet up there with the principal.

The only principal I remember was Mr Lemke. He had a mustache, a loud laugh and just as loud of a voice if something was wrong. He taught some classes of the 8th grade. We all liked and respected and were scared of Mr Lemke. His wife was the school secretary and she was really nice.

When I was about seven or eight years old, my older sister Lois took me to see Sinbad the Sailor at the Rivoli with several of her friends. Back then, you could get a discount from the grocery store, so the admission was $0.25, rather than the $0.35 it normally was. For a nickel, you could get a Slo Poke or a box of Milk Duds and be in hog heaven. While watching the movie, it became apparent to me that this movie was not for a seven year old. Recalling a one-eyed Cyclops, roasting a sailor on a spit over a fire was enough to make me head to the lobby, where I stayed until the movie was over.

When you’re eight years old, the best way to determine who’s king of the hill, was 1) determine who could run the fastest or 2) who was best at tetherball. For group games, such as kick ball, sides were determined by picking two captains. Someone would think of a number between one and ten and the two captains would guess. The captain who was closest to the secret number got to select first. Bill Schwich and I always wanted to be on the same team. Another classmate, Richard Copps, was always one of the captains because he was the fastest runner. Either Bill or I would be the other captain. Now the diabolical part was that if Bill was a captain, I’d be the number picker. Bill and Richard would guess the number, and it always worked that Bill got first pick (because he knew the number, because I told him the number ahead of time) and picked me. This went on for weeks or months, until Richard finally figured it out.

Another way to determine who got to pick first was use the rhyme: Eenee, meenee, mynee, mo ... catch a N----- by the toe. Yes, we used the N word, but we didn’t know what the word meant,nor did we think it was derogatory. None of us had ever seen a black person, except on TV. This rhyme was discarded, because it was an even cadence, so that the second person of two that you pointed to (the person pointed to when the word “meenee, was said out loud) always was picked.

The final way used to allow a captain to pick first was to throw a bat up in the air and have one of the captains catch it so that the handle of the bat was up. The other captain would place his hand on the bat just above where the second captain placed his hand. This continued until there was no bat left and the captain who had last placed his hand on the bat would get first pick or in the parlance of our neighborhood “first dibs”.

The school playground served as a daily place for great fun. There was a set of swings, only the seat of the swings were made of 18”-long 2x6s, not the pliable synthetic seats that are used today. On recess we would have two kids to a swing, one would stand on the seat and the other would sit on the seat, in between the other kid, facing in the opposite direction. We quickly learned that two people “pumping” on the swings could get higher than one alone, which of course was what we aimed for. We also had a metal slide, which was great fun to use, especially if one snuck some waxed paper from the kitchen and sat on the paper just prior to descending. A jungle gym was usually off-limits to girls, because of the old adage ”I see England, I see France, I see Susie’s underpants.”

But the item on the playground that attracted most attention, was the tetherball poles. I won’t have time to explain the fouls “ropes”, “carrying” “dribbles”, but the game was one-on-one, normally boys only. The winner advanced and a new opponent tried to meet the challenge.

The other thing about the playground is that it was segregated by grade. We played with each other in the neighborhood after school or on weekends, but a 3rd grader could no more play with a 5th grader at recess than ... well, you get the idea.

In third grade, our teacher was Mrs. Baake. She was only at St John for a few years. We had an operetta that year called The King and the Nightingale. I do remember that Jim Hardt taught me how to ride a bicycle that year and can still recall it as a thrill. And, because I could ride a bike, I could venture by myself across a street. Previously, my domain was limited to Columbia Ave, Hillcrest, the train tracks and Lincoln Street, which seemed fine to me at the time.

On the southwest corner of Hillcrest and Columbia was a softball field. (St John church sits there today). We used our bikes to cover the imaginary home runs we hit. Down Hillcrest towards the railroad tracks was a fairly large mulberry tree, from which we picked fruit. The train tracks crossed Hillcrest, and nearby was the area called “the fort”. There was a bridge on 2nd street that crossed over the railroad tracks. On the south end of the bridge, the slope was steep enough to provide great sledding during the winter. On the edges of our neighborhood stood the Hughes mansion, a house whose yard was an entire block (1st Street, 2nd Street, Lincon and Moffitt). Just past the Hughes mansion near 3rd Street and Moffitt was Hand’s grocery, home of baseball cards and around the end of June, where everyone bought fireworks. The Middendorfs and Lemkes lived nearby.

Summers during these years consisted of play: catchingbugs/grasshoppers, building forts in the sandpile, collecting baseball cards, shooting off bottle rockets, going to the swimming pool, playing “find the chalk”, working in the garden with mom and dad and playing pick-up baseball on Faculty Lane.

One summer, Mr. Schwich took me with Bill and Jody to play baseball at the Seward egg plant -- that’s what we called it. It was a field next to an Egg Plant. Anyway, the thing that I remember is that there were dozens of kids I’d never seen before -- town kids. I was not feeling very comfortable, since I was just learning about baseball and didn’t know these seemingly rather loud kids. Someone said that when I swung the bat I was “stepping in the bucket”, a phrase that made no sense to me but seemed to make sense to everyone else. In later years, I played ball with the town kids each summer until I was 16.

The swimming pool was a destination most afternoons, via car or bike down the brick street and past the familiar but odd smells and sounds coming out of the Hughes Brothers factory. Normally there would be a game of tag, sometimes there would be a diving contest off of Top Tower. When anyone in our family passed a Red Cross Swimming test (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, Jr Life Savers etc), our family would celebrate with an ice cream cone from Rolfmier’s Dairy after supper.

As hot as Seward can be in the summer, our home was cooled by opening windows or by a window fan. Our parents' bedroom had a window air conditioner, but the rest of the house was cooled naturally. In August each year came the Seward County Fair. Ferris wheel, salt and pepper shaker, roller coaster and carnival games all occupied three to four days of goofing around.

A note on the general groups of kids in our lives: 1) faculty/college kids, 2) St John kids who were not faculty/college kids, 3) town kids and 4) farm kids. For me, the first group was preferred and generally more familiar. The second group were just a bit outside the lines. The third group, the town kids, seemed louder, more vulgar, more exciting and at times more fun. They used expressions not used by us. The farm kids got pitied as “not cool” when they showed up at the pool with the dreaded “farmer tans” after FFF or FHA. In addition, there were other demarcations: Catholics, Bohemians and Pollacks, each with the special kind of pox.

Our fourth grade teacher was Miss Bartels. She loved music and would have us sing traditional non-religious songs. She had a hand held harp, where she could press several buttons to produce a chord and lead us in singing. She was also the leader of the “Tonettes”. A tonette was a plastic flute with eight holes in the body of the flute, much like a cheap recorder. We created music by blowing into the flute and covering or uncovering each of the holes. This was a neat way to learn about cadence and music. Miss Bartels was pretty strict too; she definitely had control of the class. She also tried to take away our morning recess and do organized aerobics (we didn’t call it that back then) to music in the gym. After a few months, I think she gave up.

Mr. Peter was our fifth-grade teacher, who loved to laugh and have a good time with his classes. He was also our congregation’s organist, so he was pretty good at the piano. He encouraged those of us who could play piano to play in front of the class, say lead the hymn for morning devotions. Now I happened to be taking piano lessons at the time and had memorized the hymn Hark the Herald Angels Sing, so one day I asked Mr Peter to let me lead the hymn. As I sat down on the piano bench, in front of my class, I immediately realized this was a BIG mistake. I could remember the first phrase, but little else. A large embarrassment.

Our house was two doors down from the school, so that each noon, I went home for lunch, ate quickly so that I would be the first person on the playground for recess after lunch. It was during these “at home lunches” that I begin to revolt against soup and toast for lunch each day.

During the fall and winter months, our family attended whatever basketball or football game was going on. Until the 1960s, Concordia played its games at Seward High’s gym. At the gym, at the very top of the stands, were large windows that would condense fog in the winter. While at one of those games, I was writing my name in the condensation, when a security guard approached me and told me not to do that. I thought he was going to send me to jail, so I stopped quickly. Football games allowed us kids to play “tackle the man with the ball” in the area behind the end zone. My brother Lee would spend football games under the bleachers collecting discarded waxed-paper cups -- eventually over 1,0000. He’d bring them home, clean them and stack them. Then, he’d use those cups to make buildings, castles or walls by stacking them on top of each other. The most fun was stacking them around George, our dog, while he slept and waiting for him to wake up and break down the walls. In all those years I don’t think our family ever went to a Seward High event, except that one time my Pee Wee basketball team was to play a three-minute game at half time at a Seward High basket ball game.

There was a period of time when constructing model airplanes seemed to be the thing to do. A model kit cost $1 at Ben Franklin, and my brother Alan and his friends Roger Kaiser and Steve Curtis all were advocates of the coolness of model airplanes. Steve also had a large collection of comic books, in which our family never indulged. There was also a great degree of interest in Cub Scouts during that period (Wolf, Bear and Lion badges with arrow heads for achievements), Dens and uniforms with yellow handkerchief worn on the neck.

In addition to college activities, it seemed we were also involved in a lot of church activities, including church picnics at the Seward Park. Lots of pot-luck dinners. St John’s new church was at the intersection of Seward and 4th Street, and the old church was on 3rd street between Seward and Main. Sunday School was either in the basement of the old church or the basement of the new church. I recall that Mr Kirch could sing two octaves below the regular melody and thought that neat.

During the winter, each Sunday afternoon from 4-6 was open swimming for faculty and their families at the Concordia Pool. Somebody had fins and goggles, so at times we pretended to be Lloyd Bridges from the TV show Sea Hunt. We also tried to catch balls thrown to us by a lifeguard as we ran off the diving boards. Then, Mike Slywester and I would hit the showers and drain the hot water heaters soaking in the glow of red eyes, loose muscles and pruned up fingers. Some Sundays, Mr Schwich would open the Old Gym and let us jump on the trampolines.

Our sixth grade teacher, Mr Schmieding was much older than any other teacher. It appeared to me he didn’t like his job, as a very rarely smiled and often yelled at us. He once picked up Steve Roettjer by his neck, but Steve had his legs intertwined in the legs of his chair, so that he was picked up chair and all. He had an enraging habit of telling us to prepare for lunch by standing up…and then making us wait until he was ready to say a prayer “The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season ...” And when he prayed, he folded his hands in a strange way, one hand in a fist while the other engulfed the fisted hand, both held near his stomach.

Sixth grade was also when we got to play organized basketball for the school, which was great. Mr Giessleman was our coach. I recall that when President Kennedy was killed, we were coming back from lunch in sixth grade. I recall shock, but really didn’t get all that worried or upset until I learned that our basketball practice was cancelled.

I’m certain there are many other stories that will come to me, but wanted to share these in this stream of consciousness.

Wikimapia Aerial View of Seward

This link takes you to Wikimapia's aerial view of Seward, Nebraska. The initial focus is on the intersection of Columbia Avenue, Faculty Lane, and the Concordia Half Moon. Right above the image is a link titled edit info. If you click on it, then the image expands to fill the entire window, and you can zoom in and out and move around.

Various places are outlined and identified. If you hold your pointer over those areas, you see the place names. People can add comments to those areas and can identify other areas. (I have not tried those features.

At the upper left corner of the image you can select options to see the area as a map (with street names, etc.), as a hybrid photograph-map, and as a terrain map (with elevations, river names, etc.).

I did not know that Seward Elementary School is now located out on North Columbia Avenue. And to the east of that school is a Plum Creek Park and a Plum Creek Sports Complex. News to me.

And how did that St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and School get there?!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Photos of the Old Church

My brother Steve Sylwester attended the auction of the building and contents of the old St John Church in downtown Seward in early 1976. That day he took a lot of photographs, some of which appear below. Steve writes: "It was a sad day, but these pictures will remind many people of many happy days."

Unfortunately, I have to show the photos in small size in this blog. The photos are much more impressive if you can see the fine detail. The last three images below are small sections shown full size.

A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.
A detail of the old St John Church in Seward, Nebraska. Scanned from a photo taken by Steve Sylwester.