Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Wilderness of Childhood

The New York Review of Books includes in its July 16,2009, issue an essay titled "Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood," written by Michael Chabon, who is the author of books titled The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Summerland.

Chabon writes in this article that children's adventure literature has been popular because it resonates with children's own experiences of exploring their own neighborhoods. He writes also that children in the past had much more freedom to explore their own neighborhoods and that children now are much more restricted in such freedom.

He wonders whether this change will affect children's appreciation of adventure literature. Below are some excerpts from Chabon's artice.

... the Wilderness of Childhood, as any kid could attest who grew up, like my father, on the streets of Flatbush in the Forties, had nothing to do with trees or nature. I could lose myself on vacant lots and playgrounds, in the alleyway behind the Wawa, in the neighbors' yards, on the sidewalks. Anywhere, in short, I could reach on my bicycle, a 1970 Schwinn Typhoon, Coke-can red with a banana seat, a sissy bar, and ape-hanger handlebars. On it I covered the neighborhood in a regular route for half a mile in every direction. I knew the locations of all my classmates' houses, the number of pets and siblings they had, the brand of popsicle they served, the potential dangerousness of their fathers. ...

People read stories of adventure —- and write them —- because they have themselves been adventurers. Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity. For the most part the young adventurer sets forth equipped only with the fragmentary map—marked here there be tygers and mean kid with air rifle—that he or she has been able to construct out of a patchwork of personal misfortune, bedtime reading, and the accumulated local lore of the neighborhood children.

A striking feature of literature for children is the number of stories, many of them classics of the genre, that feature the adventures of a child, more often a group of children, acting in a world where adults, particularly parents, are completely or effectively out of the picture. Think of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Railway Children, or Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy presents a chilling version of this world in its depiction of Cittàgazze, a city whose adults have all been stolen away. Then there is the very rich vein of children's literature featuring ordinary contemporary children navigating and adventuring through a contemporary, nonfantastical world that is nonetheless beyond the direct influence of adults, at least some of the time. I'm thinking of the Encyclopedia Brown books, the Great Brain books, the Henry Reed and Homer Price books, the stories of the Mad Scientists' Club, a fair share of the early works of Beverly Cleary.

As a kid, I was extremely fond of a series of biographies, largely fictional, I'm sure, that dramatized the lives of famous Americans —- Washington, Jefferson, Kit Carson, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Daniel Boone —- when they were children. (Boys, for the most part, though I do remember reading one about Clara Barton.) One element that was almost universal in these stories was the vast amounts of time the famous historical boys were alleged to have spent wandering with bosom companions, with friendly Indian boys or a devoted slave, through the once-mighty wilderness, the Wilderness of Childhood, entirely free of adult supervision. ...

The thing that strikes me now when I think about the Wilderness of Childhood is the incredible degree of freedom my parents gave me to adventure there. A very grave, very significant shift in our idea of childhood has occurred since then. The Wilderness of Childhood is gone; the days of adventure are past. The land ruled by children, to which a kid might exile himself for at least some portion of every day from the neighboring kingdom of adulthood, has in large part been taken over, co-opted, colonized, and finally absorbed by the neighbors. ...

[Now we parents provide a] kind of door-to-door, all-encompassing escort service ... for our children. We schedule their encounters for them, driving them to and from one another's houses so they never get a chance to discover the unexplored lands between. If they are lucky, we send them out to play in the backyard, where they can be safely fenced in and even, in extreme cases, monitored with security cameras. When my family and I moved onto our street in Berkeley, the family next door included a nine-year-old girl; in the house two doors down the other way, there was a nine-year-old boy, her exact contemporary and, like her, a lifelong resident of the street. They had never met.

The sandlots and creek beds, the alleys and woodlands have been aban- doned in favor of a system of reservations -- Chuck E. Cheese, the Jungle, the Discovery Zone -- jolly internment centers mapped and planned by adults with no blank spots aside from doors marked staff only. When children roller-skate or ride their bikes, they go forth armored as for battle, and their parents typically stand nearby. ...

What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children's imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go. Should I send my children out to play?

There is a small grocery store around the corner, not over two hundred yards from our front door. Can I let her ride there alone to experience the singular pleasure of buying herself an ice cream on a hot summer day and eating it on the sidewalk, alone with her thoughts? Soon after she learned to ride, we went out together after dinner, she on her bike, with me following along at a safe distance behind. What struck me at once on that lovely summer evening, as we wandered the streets of our lovely residential neighborhood at that after-dinner hour that had once represented the peak moment, the magic hour of my own childhood, was that we didn't encounter a single other child.

Even if I do send them out, will there be anyone to play with?

Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted—not taught—to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Names of Graduates of St John School

St John School's website includes a webpage with information about the school's anniversary celebration, and that webpage includes a link to a pdf file that contains a table listing all the people who have graduated from St. John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska.

The table does not list all the people who have attended the school; rather it lists only those who graduated from eighth grade. For example, six members of my family attended the school, but only my brother Steve and I are included on the list, because only we two graduated from eighth grade at St John. The graduation years range from 1885 to 2008.

The table essentially comprises one column for the person's graduation year, one column for the person's first name and one column for the person's last name. In some cases some other data is included, such as honorifics (Reverend, Doctor, Sergeant, etc.) and spouses' family names. The last 56 rows in the table do not include a graduation year, so I don't know how those people fit into the table.

I converted this pdf file to a Microsoft Access data base so that I could run various inquiries on the dates and names. So far, I have not included those last 56 rows without graduation years. The people who are included in my data base number 2,996.

The first inquiry that I ran was to determine the most common family names. In this sort, I did not combine similar spellings. For example, some people were named Zimmerman (ending with a single n) and others were named Zimmermann (ending with a double n), and I treated those as two separate names.

Below is a list of the frequent occurrences, from most occurrences down to eight occurrences:

Meyer -- 65

Mueller -- 57

Hackbart -- 44

Luebbe - 38

Schlueter -- 36

Schulz -- 33

Rolfsmeier -- 32

Prochnow --- 29

Schultz -- 25

Kamprath -- 23

Alschwede -- 20

Buls -- 20

Kroeger -- 19

Vogel -- 19

Heinicke -- 18

Gade -- 17

Herpolsheimer -- 17

Kruse -- 16

Wergin -- 16

Suhr -- 15

Bernecker -- 14

Mayland -- 14

Petri -- 14

Tonniges -- 14

Beckmann -- 13

Kolterman -- 13

Pflughaupt -- 13

Schlegelmilch -- 13

Dargel -- 12

Graves -- 12

Neujahr -- 12

Aegerter -- 11

Hans -- 11

Ihde -- 11

Imig -- 11

Manke -- 11

Niederschmidt -- 11

Anderson -- 10

Banzhaf -- 10

Brose -- 10

Goldsmith -- 10

Hardt -- 10

Hinrichs -- 10

Martens -- 10

Schmidt -- 10

Schuknecht -- 10

Weller -- 10

Wood -- 10

Bangert --9

Brinkmeyer -- 9

Bye -- 9

Duerr -- 9

Firnhaber -- 9

Gerkensmeyer -- 9

Goehner -- 9

Haase -- 9

Helge -- 9

Johnson -- 9

Lange -- 9

Peterson -- 9

Willers -- 9

Zimmermann -- 9

Adamek -- 8

Becker -- 8

Block -- 8

Bluhm -- 8

Brandhorst -- 8

Brauer -- 8

Fehner -- 8

Hartmann -- 8

Liermann -- 8

Owens -- 8

Peters -- 8

Rathje -- 8

Riggert -- 8

Schildt -- 8

Schmieding -- 8

Below is a list of people's names (with graduation years) where I am not sure whether they are male or female. These are names that might be either.

If any readers of this article know the sex of some cases for sure, please tell me in a comment below the article or in a message to MikeSylwester@gmail.com.

No guesses, please. Tell me only if you know for sure.

Antoine Love 2003
Antoine Otto 1906
Auguste Uerckwitz 1889
Auguste Bartsch 1929
Auguste Worthmann 1886
Auguste Zieme 1917
B Mertins 1975
Blake Johnson 1975
Bobby Mueller 1996
Brandon Luebbe 1996
Brandon Schulz 1991
Brandon Reinke 2001
Brandon Schmidt 2001
Brandon O'Dell 2008
Branson Oshel 1994
Cade Luebbe 2002
Chris Mackie 1998
Chris Blomenberg 1993
Chris Moravec 1980
Chris Wood 1997
Chris Dutkanicz 1999
Cody Smith 2000
Cody Luebbe 1999
Cody Rutt 2001
Cody Pollak 2000
Dale Reetz 1963
Dale Dickinson 1942
Dale Schlueter 1947
Dale Pieper 1954
Dale Suhr 1947
Dana Aegerter 1977
Devin Higgins 2001
Elvin Duerr 1926
Elvin Ahlschwede 1927
Elvin Ahrens 1959
Elvin Diers 1898
Georden Pfeiffer 2001
J.J. Krull 1996
Jordan Duncan 1997
Jordan Owens 1998
Jordan Roth 1999
Jordan Burhoop 2006
Kim Taebel 1975
Kim Mailand 1991
Kim Weinhold 1974
Logan Gerth 2006
Marlin Luebbe 1963
Pat Rotherham 1979
Pat Rolfsmeier 1943
Riggin Rixstine 2000
Taylor Baumeister 2007
Terrin Wurdeman 2002
Terry Plautz 1965
Terry Kahler 1961
Terry Kamprath 1964
Terry Ihde 1959
Terry Schulz 1975

During the first 25 years of graduations, from 1885 through 1910, there were 135 male graduates and 120 female graduates.

Below are some male names and their occurrences among those 135 male names during those 25 years:

Heinrich -- 14

Herman or Hermann -- 13

Johann -- 9

Arthur -- 7

Fredrich or Friedrich -- 7

Wilhelm -- 7

Albert -- 5

August or Auguste -- 5

Otto -- 5

Bernhard or Bernhardt - 4

Louis -- 4

Oscar -- 3

Georg (not George) -- 3

Ernst -- 2

Alwine -- 1

Antoine -- 1

Dietrich --- 1

Here are the last years when any later graduates again had any of the above names: Heinrich, 1921; Herman, 1945; Johann,1922; Arthur, 1939; Frederick, 1950; Wilhelm, 1917; Albert, 1930; August, 1939; Otto, 1935; Bernhard, 1929; Louis, 1954; Oscar, 1925; Ernst, 1911; Alwin, 1918; Dietrich, 1916.

Below are some female names and their occurrences among those 120 female names during those 25 years:

Emma -- 6

Meta -- 6

Wilhelmina or Wilhelmine -- 5

Luise -- 5

Martha -- 5

Emile -- 4

Bertha -- 3

Hulda -- 3

Ida -- 3

Minna -- 3

Sophie -- 3

Mathilda -- 2

Bruna -- 1

Fanny -- 1

Fredericke -- 1

Gertrude -- 1

Hedwig -- 1

Henrietta -- 1

The name Emile has changed its pronunciation and spelling to Emilie and now Emily.

The name Emma disappeared after 1927 but now has reappeared in the 2001 and 2008 graduation classes.

The name Hedwig disappeared after 1894 but then reappeared as Heidi in the 1978 and 1999 graduation classes.

Otherwise, here are the last years when any later graduates again had any of the above names: Frederike, 1937; Gertrude, 1926; Henrietta, 1921; Hilda, 1936; Louise, 1956; Martha, 1947; Mathilda, 1925; Minnie, 1929; Wilhelmina (Wilma), 1954.

The 1928 graduating class included a girl named Della Reese. When I saw this name in that time period, I thought to myself, How many people had the name Della Reese? Could this St John graduate be the famous Della Reese?

Della Reese. Image taken from http://www.whosdatedwho.com/celebrities/people/dating/della-reese.htm

From my research on the Internet, I learned three important considerations:

1) In the past, the name Della was quite common, especially among ethnic Germans. The name is short for Adelia, Adeline, Adelaide and Cordelia. Other variants of this nickname are Dell and Delle. Although this nickname was very common in the early 1900s, it became rare by the mid-century.

Frequency of the name Della. Image taken from http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Della

2) Lots of girls who were born in the first half of the 1900s had the name Della Reese.

3) The famous Della Reese did not have the family name Reese. Rather, she was born Delloreese Patricia Early, and she formed her professional name entirely from her first name. Also, she was born in 1931 and so was in eighth grade in about 1944.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Historical Facts Rescued from Oblivion

Here’s some miscellaneous stuff that Toby Beck found while trolling through old Seward papers:

From the Feb. 22, 1956, issue of the Independent:

Mrs. Luther Schwich and children, Jody and Billy, accompanied Dr. and Mrs. Paul Zimmerman to Le Mars, Iowa, Friday where they attended the basketball conference play-off.

The May 2, 1956, issue of the Independent, looked back to 1906:

A 1906 issue of the Seward Independent, brought in recently by John Herrold, carried the following news item:
Roy R. Schick has let the contract to John Hughes for a $2,200 house to be erected on lots in the College edition. It will be leased to a member of the college faculty for a term of years. This is the first new house to be erected in Seward in a year.
Robert Schick reports that the house spoken of in the above article, the present home of Elizabeth Heinicke at 540 Columbia avenue, was built by John Hughes Sr., father of John, Burr, Ben and Ted Hughes, and that contrary to this report, Mr. and Mrs. Schick moved into the home and lived there until 1919 when they built their brick home just north of the college on Columbia avenue. [which apparently is 920 North Columbia, the house at the corner of Faculty Lane and Columbia. It’s now a Concordia Guest House]

From the Sept. 19, 1956, Independent:

A special religious service for observing Dr. Henry A. Koenig’s fifty years in the ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and for the installation of Raymond F. Surburg, Luther C. Schwich and Glenn C. Einspahr as associate professors is planned for Sunday, Sept. 23, by Concordia Teachers College.

A surprise found in the December 12, 1956, issue of the Independent:

Prof. and Mrs. Theodore Beck and children, Teddy [sorry Tedi!] and Toby, moved Saturday from their residence at 549 N. Columbia Ave. to the home at 234 Faculty Lane, formerly occupied by the late Prof. and Mrs. Theodore G. Stelzer. [That surprised me -- I’d thought we moved in 1957]

In the June 26, 1957 Independent:

Seward city council opened bids Friday evening on approximately 12 blocks of paving. Apparent low bidder was the Arnold Swanson company of Hastings. The engineer’s estimate on the five districts was $49,790.

Concordia College also received bids on the paving of the ‘half-circle’ in front of Weller hall and on Faculty lane from Columbia east of the city limits, and a section of 300 feet to connect Faculty Lane and Hillcrest. A.C. Bek of the College Board of Control stated that the Concordia paving might be among the first to be put in, so that the work could be completed before school opening in the fall.

From the July 3, 1957, Independent:

A unique event took place on the campus of Concordia Teachers College, Seward, on June 24 and 25. Exactly fifty years to the day after graduation, the first graduating class of CTC, the class of 1907, held a reunion. Eleven members of the original class of 21 are living; and eight were able to be present. ...

Class members present were Fred Eberhard of New Orleans, La.; J.H. Gefeke of Napoleon, Ohio; E. Chas. Mueller of Lincoln, Nebr.; Theodore Rhode of Davenport, Nebr.; Arthur Ritzmann of Washington, Mo.; John C. Rodenburg of Springfield, Ill.; Dr. Alfred Schmieding, River Forest, Ill.; August Sylvester, Gaylord, Minn.”

That same issue of the Independent reported the upcoming July 7 installation of the Rev. Leonard W. Heidemann as pastor at St. John’s.

Steve Sylwester responded about the second (May 2, 1956) item:

The phrase the present home of Elizabeth Heinicke at 540 Columbia avenue refers to the house where the Marxhausens lived from the early mid-1960s.

The phrase lived there until 1919 when they built their brick home just north of the college on Columbia avenue refers to the house where Peter Kolb lived [Faculty Lane House 8]. It is strange to finally recognize that that house is not truly a Faculty Lane house by street address; rather, the front door is on Columbia Avenue, now that I think about it. Even though Peter Kolb was older than me by several years, I hung around with him at times. We always entered his house from the door that led to the driveway on Faculty Lane, so I always thought about that house as a Faculty Lane house.

Steve Sylwester responded about the sixth (July 3, 1957)item:

August Sylvester of Gaylord, Minnesota, was my paternal grandfather F.W.J. Sylwester's younger brother.

F.W.J. was born Franz Wilhelm Johannes Sylwester on March 3, 1881, in Dryden Township, Sibley County, Minnesota, which is the location of the family farm near Gaylord. F.W.J. changed his name to Frank William John Sylwester at the time of the First World War when things overtly German became suspect. Commonly, he went by "Frank." In 1905, F.W.J. Sylwester founded what is now Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and he served as president of Concordia Portland for the first 41 years of its history. During the first years Concordia Portland existed, my grandfather was the only teacher. After relinquishing the presidency in 1946, my grandfather continued to serve Concordia Portland as an instructor and a librarian, working in the latter position until a few months before his death on October 26, 1972, at the age of 91. At the time of his death, my grandfather had served Concordia Portland for 67 uninterrupted years!

Here is a video about Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

August Ferdinand Sylwester was born on April 30, 1883, on the same family farm as his brother F.W.J. near Gaylord, Minnesota, described above. After graduating from Concordia Seward in 1907, August taught at Lutheran parochial schools in Inver Grove, Courtland, Waterton, and Albany, Minnesota; and in Stevensville, Michigan. During the 1940s, he was Legislative Clerk for Minnesota State Senators O.A. Swenson and Joseph Daun. After retirement, he returned to Gaylord, Minnesota, where he then served as a rural mail carrier. He was married for 59 years, and he and his wife had seven children. August Ferdinand Sylwester died on January 4, 1968, in Gaylord, Minnesota.

My paternal great grandfather August Friederich Sylwester had fifteen children. He was born the son of German peasant farmers on December 31, 1837, near Stettin in Pommern, northern Germany (Stettin is the old German name of the the city Sczcecin, which is near the Oder River in Poland). After his mother died when he was 15, August Friederich emigrated with his father to Wisconsin in America, where they continued farming with people they had known from Pommern.

Eventually, his father remarried a widow with children, and then August Friederich married his new stepsister in February 1864, and a year later August Friederich and his bride Emilie traveled by covered wagon to Minnesota where they homesteaded some farmland near Lake Titloe. That farm remained in the Sylwester family until 1956. Emilie died on August 11, 1872, at age 26, just three and a half months after her youngest child (a son) died at age 5 months, and she was survived by three children: two girls and one boy.

August Friederich married his second wife Sophia on February 21,1873, barely six months after his first wife died. August Friederich and Sophia had eleven children: seven boys and four girls, including F.W.J. and August Ferdinand. Of the seven sons of August Friederich that survived to adulthood, four became farmers, one was a mercantile store clerk, and the other two were F.W.J. and August Ferdinand. Only F.W.J. and August Ferdinand received college educations.

August Friederich Sylwester died on January 29, 1928, at age 90. His second wife Sophia died on October 6, 1931, at age 78.

When I visited my grandfather F.W.J. when he was in his late 80s, he was still regularly working hard in his garden and his flowerbeds, and he was very proud of that work. He did not talk with me about theological topics other than at dinner table devotions. What was important to him in private conversations with me was passing on the knowledge of how to properly clean and care for gardening tools and shovels, and the importance of a clean and orderly work bench and tool storage system.

But most importantly, he always wanted to show me his dirt! My grandfather's garden dirt and flowerbed dirt was black and soft and fluffy like I have never seen dirt before or since: it was rich stuff that produced magnificent plants — and it was his pride and joy. Though F.W.J. had left the farm as a boy to be educated at Concordia Colleges in St. Paul and then Milwaukee before going to the Seminary in St. Louis, and to then teach at Concordia St.Paul from 1903 to 1904 at age 22 before being sent to Portland, the farm never left him; in his heart of hearts, F.W.J. was always a Minnesota farm boy.

The point being this: Many who were farm boys were called to go work in the Lord's vineyard to reap the harvest of the Holy Spirit's work. Some were our fathers. Some were our grandfathers. In any case, many of us are not far removed from the farm. Concordia Seward in the heartland of America in the middle of some of the most fertile farmland in the whole world was a place where farm boys became church workers.

It is not the same now because the family farm has been disappearing for a long time and is today nearly extinct, but there was a time from 45 to 120 years ago when some stayed on the farm while some were given to the Lord. My grandfather F.W.J. Sylwester and his brother August Ferdinand Sylwester were given to the Lord.

Another Old Photograph of Faculty Row

Tobin Beck provided this old picture of Faculty Row. He scanned the picture from an old postcard.

Faculty Row at Lutheran Seminary (Concordia Teachers College, Concordia University) in Seward, Nebraska

The image has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Click on ALL SIZES to see the larger, original size.

The previously posted photographs of Faculty Row are here and here.

This postcard is labeled Faculty Row, Lutheran Seminary, Seward, Neb. The school was called a seminary until 1905, when it was renamed as a college, so the postcard was made before 1905.

The road running horizonally along the bottom of the picture is Columbia Avenue. The houses' front yards are much larger than they were on Faculty Lane.

Tobin commented about the photograph:

The Faculty Row picture is from the early 1900s, judging from the size of the trees in front of the houses. Also Miessler Hall, which was built in 1905, is not visible in the shot, which looks like it was taken from Columbia Avenue looking east.

If you look at the line of trees along the brick sidewalk going back toward Founders, you can see a white post. I'd guess that's about where the lobby of Weller is now.

(Mike: Look for the white post on the Flickr webpage.)

A 1955 Aerial Photograph of the Concordia Campus

Tobin Beck provided this image, which was scanned from an old photograph.

Aerial Photograph of Concordia Teachers College (now Concordia University) in 1955

The image has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Click on ALL SIZES above the image to see the larger, original size.

Tobin explained the photograph:

This photo shows Concordia in about 1955. The picture shows Weller Auditorium, which was built in 1954, and shows dirt has been excavated for the expansion of St. John's school, which was completed in 1956.

You can see the tennis court that used to be north of Miessler, but no courts yet down the hill (where the Science Building is now). You also can see the baseball field on the hill east of the football field. The "new gym" hadn't been built yet, so the Bye farm stands out northeast of the football field.

Along Hillcrest starting at the left foreground you can see the Cannon house, Pfeiffer house, Bek house, Heinecke house, and -- across Hillcrest north of the Bye farmhouse -- the Kirch house.

You also can see that the halfmoon and College Avenue appear white while Hillcrest and the other streets and roads are brown. The college used crushed rock on the streets it was responsible for, and the city used gravel, until those streets (Hillcrest, Columbia in front of St. John's school, Faculty Lane, the halfmoon, College Avenue) were paved in the summer of 1957 (not 1958 as I said in a previous post).

(Mike: I have corrected the previous post to say that the roads were paved in 1957.)

Steve Sylwester:

... "crushed rock" -- I never would have remembered that distinction. It seems that there was still some crushed rock around in the early 1960s, at least in some of the CTC parking lots.

Tobin Beck:

Once when we were playing baseball in the lot just east of the Sylwester house (when that lot was still grass, before it become a parking lot), somebody hit a fly ball across Brommer Drive into the gym parking lot, which was crushed rock. I chased the ball and in the process kicked some of the rocks. In one I found a perfectly preserved snail fossil that I still have.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Old Panoramic Photograph of Concordia Campus

Marvin Bergman, who now occupies the old Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 1) on North Columbia Avenue, kindly arranged for some old photographs in his possession to be scanned for this blog. One of the photographs is a panorama, consisting of four aligned photographs, of the Concordia campus.

"Old Panarama Photographs of Concordia Teachers College (now Concordia University) in Seward" Nebraska

The image has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Click on ALL SIZES above the image to see larger sizes (ORIGINAL is the largest).

The street running horizontally along the bottom of the panorama is North Columbia Avenue. The four old faculty houses are near this street, so this is the original Faculty Row location of those houses. They were moved farther back in mid-1924 to a new street, called Faculty Lane. Therefore, this photograph was taken before mid-1924.

Steve Sylwester explains the photograph:

The road you see along the foreground is Columbia. The outer [most west] house had its west property boundary on Columbia.

The east-west street that was Faculty Row is plainly visible, and it is headed due east in the picture to what is now the front steps of Brommer Hall — and goes directly through the area where Weller Hall now stands while enroute. Founders Hall can be seen in the background on the south side of the street.

Faculty Row existed more-or-less on the land that is now between Link Library and Weller Hall. The street area directly in front of the Weller house is now where the east side elevation (the chapel stage back wall) of Weller Hall is located.

This blog now has provided all six photographs that were received from Mr. Bergman.

Celebration of St John School's 125 Anniversary

I previously posted an article in this blog about St John School's celebration of its 125th anniversary. The celebration will take place during the July 4 weekend in Seward.

I wish I could be there, but I already am over-committed for vacation time and expenses for this year. A couple of family illnesses have made this year an impossible year for me to justify a pleasure trip to Seward.

I hope that somebody who does attend will write an article about the celebration and send it to me so that I can post it on this blog. If several people write articles, then I'll post all of them. The more, the merrier.

Also, all readers of this blog who attend should tell everyone else there about this blog and should ask around for old photographs, documents and memoirs.

Current information about the town's Fourth of July celebration is detailed in this link, which includes many details about the St John school events.

St John School's website includes a webpage with information about the school's anniversary celebration. As of today, the scheduled events are:

Saturday, July 4

6 - 8 am - Lift High the Cross Balloon Rides on SJ Playground

7 - 10 am – St. John Music Ministry Pancake Feed Breakfast at the Civic Center

9 am - 12 noon – Open House at St. John Lutheran School

10 am – Reception honoring Seward Area former/retired public and parochial teachers in St. John Fellowship Hall by Seward GFWC

11 am – PTL Concessions at the Airshow

1 pm – Nation-wide Bell Ringing

2 pm – Governor’s Tea in the Fellowship Hall

4 pm – Anniversary Float in the Parade

5 - 7 pm – St. John Lutheran School Open House

7 - 9 pm – Lift High the Cross Balloon Rides on SJ Playground

Sunday July 5

9 am – St. John Anniversary Worship Service at the Health, Human Performance and Athletic Center on the campus of Concordia University

10:30 am - Noon – St. John Lutheran School Open House

7 - 9 pm - Lift High the Cross Hot Air Balloon Rides on the School Playground

People coming to Seward from out of town can arrange to stay in the campus dormitories during the weekend for modest costs. A link to the application form is here.

Faculty Lane as a Dirt Road

Marvin Bergman, who now occupies the old Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 1) on North Columbia Avenue, kindly arranged for some old photographs in his possession to be scanned for this blog. One of the photographs was taken when Faculty Lane still was a dirt road.

Faculty Lane (Seward, Nebraska) as a Dirt Road

The image is uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Click ALL SIZES to see the image in larger sizes.

The house in the far background behind the four white houses is the Heinicke house on East Hillcrest, where Koe (Kathie) Heinicke (Steve Sylwester's wife) grew up.

The photograph was taken after 1924, when the four white houses were moved from Faculty Row to Faculty Lane. Can anyone provide any other clues to the photograph's date?

Tobin Beck wrote:

I remember when Faculty Lane, Hillcrest, the college half moon and Columbia in front of St. John’s were paved in the spring or summer of 1957. There were a lot of graders and other equipment going up and down the blocks so we couldn’t play outside as much as usual. I remember at one point running through the back yard and through the pine trees at the edge of our lot to take a look, and running right into the path of an earth mover coming toward me about 20 yards away. That was a little scary.

The Campus on an Old Picture Postcard

Marvin Bergman, who now occupies the old Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 1) on North Columbia Avenue, kindly arranged for some old photographs in his possession to be scanned for this blog. One of the photographs is on an old picture postcard and shows a remote side-view of the campus.

Old Postcard of Lutheran Seminary Grounds in Seward, Nebraska

The image is uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Click on the ALL SIZES above the image on that webpage and you will be able to see the image in larger sizes.

The postcard is labeled Ev[angelical] Luth[eran] Seminary Grounds, Seward, Neb. and was stamped on March or May 13, 1912, in Stafford, Nebraska.

On the left area of the postcard stand the four faculty houses in a row. In the previous article in this blog, Steve Sylwester explained that those faculty houses stood along a location called Faculty Row. This postcard shows the same configuration.

In the previous article Steve supposed that that previous, downward oblique photograph seems to have been taken from the roof of Founders Hall. Steve thinks that this postcard photograph confirms that supposition. I don't agree. I think the photograph must have been taken from a hot-air balloon.

According to another previous article in this blog, this Lutheran institution was called The Evangelical Lutheran School Teachers Seminary from 1894 to 1905, when the name was changed to The Evangelical Lutheran School Teachers College, so I think the postcard might have been made before 1905, even though it was not mailed until 1912.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Picture of Faculty Row

Marvin Bergman, who now occupies the old Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 1) on North Columbia Avenue, kindly arranged for some old photographs in his possession to be scanned for this blog. One of the photographs shows the four old houses of Faculty Lane before those houses were moved to Faculty Lane.

Old Photograph of Faculty Row in Seward, Nebraska

On the photograph the four houses are annotated with the family names of their occupants -- (right to left) George Weller, Mr. Schuelke, Karl Haase and Fred Strieter. Annotations on the photograph's bottom and right margins say Prof. Ave.

I have uploaded this photograph to this Flickr webpage. If you click on ALL SIZES above the photograph on that webpage, you can see the image in larger sizes.

Fortuitously, Tobin Beck recently wrote an article for this blog in which he reported that these four houses originally had been located on a street that had been named Faculty Row. A key part of his article stated:

Originally the big white houses were built just northwest of Founders Hall, and ran in a straight line west from Miessler Hall. This was called Faculty Row, and there was a dirt lane running east-west between the houses and Founders. The college’s building expansion plans in the early 1920s called for the houses to be moved and a new street created.

Beck quoted from the May 21, 1924, issue of the Blue Valley Blade, which stated:

In order to carry out the proposed building plan, and furnish the desired site for the administration building the residences occupied by Professors Schuelke and Koenig, will be moved several blocks to the north and east.

Steve Sylwester explains this photograph as follows:

The distance between the Weller house and the Schuelke house in the above picture is MUCH greater than the distance between the Sylwester house and the Hackmann house on Faculty Lane.

Notice how the Weller house is configured in the above picture, which is different than how the house was configured on Faculty Lane. The front porch opens to what would be the east on Faculty Lane. When the house was on Faculty Lane, the front porch opened to the south. If the above picture was on Faculty Lane, the sidewalk from the front porch on the Weller house was headed toward the area where the new gymnasium was built, which back when was an empty field.

Toby Beck's article states that originally the big white houses were built just northwest of Founders Hall and ran in a straight line west from Miessler Hall. This was called Faculty Row, and there was a dirt lane running east-west between the houses and Founders. Therefore, the sidewalk coming from the middle of the Weller house and exiting the picture on the right side edge at the "V" in "PROF. AVE." is headed due east toward Miessler Hall.

I believe the large evergreen trees in front of the above Weller house are the outer trees that were removed from the cluster of large evergreens that once stood between Founders Hall, Miessler Hall, and Brommer Hall.

Furthermore, my very sure guess is that the above picture was taken from the roof of Founders Hall.

Toby, if you had not discovered the hidden history behind Faculty Row moving to Faculty Lane, the above picture would not have made sense. Thank you!

Yearbook's Third-Grade Photos Now in Flickr

I have cropped all the individual photos of third-grade students from the St John 1965-1966 yearbook and uploaded them to this Flickr set.

For example, here is an especially enthusiastic third-grader, Mike Atkinson.

Mike Atkinson, third-grade student at St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska

On each Flickr webpage you can click ALL SIZES above the image to see the image in larger and smaller sizes.

Photos of Houses Being Moved from Faculty Lane

Marvin Bergman, who now occupies the old Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 1) on North Columbia Avenue, kindly arranged for some old photographs in his possession to be scanned for this blog. Two of the photographs show houses being moved from Faculty Lane.

The first photo shows the Beck house (Faculty Lane House 4), which became the Klammer house, being moved on Plainview Drive. This photo has been uploaded to a Flickr webpage.

House Being Moved from Faculty Lane in Seward, Nebraska (2)

The photo below shows the Sylwester house. This photo too has been uploaded to a Flickr webpage.

House Being Moved from Faculty Lane in Seward, Nebraska (1)

On each Flickr page, you can click on the ALL SIZES click-point above the image to see the image in larger and smaller sizes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How Faculty Lane Began

Tobin Beck wrote:

In my free time since the end of school I’ve been doing some research in the newspaper microfilm archives at the Seward library and found some interesting stuff about Faculty Lane.

Did you know that the Faculty Lane we remember was first laid out in 1924? Originally the big white houses were built just northwest of Founders Hall, and ran in a straight line west from Miessler Hall. This was called Faculty Row, and there was a dirt lane running east-west between the houses and Founders. The college’s building expansion plans in the early 1920s called for the houses to be moved and a new street created.

Here’s what the the May 21, 1924, edition of the Blue Valley Blade said about the dedication of the new men’s dormitory, Jesse Hall, and the plans for the campus:

The completion of the new $125,000 dormitory at the Lutheran College is the first move in the plan of adding many other splendid buildings to the group. The administration building [Weller Hall] will be commenced in September 1924, and be ready for occupancy in 1925. It will contain eight class rooms and many offices.

In order to carry out the proposed building plan, and furnish the desired site for the administration building the residences occupied by Professors Schuelke and Koenig, will be moved several blocks to the north and east.

The administration building will cost $150,000. The next building to be erected is the service building [Brommer Hall] which will be equipped with dining hall, kitchens, laundry, home for the steward, etc. This building will cost $150,000.

In order to make room for the new buildings, the play grounds west of the college will this summer be established on the ground east of the college.

A residence for Prof. H. Hardt will be erected this year on the college grounds east of Roy Schick’s residence [Tobin: Not sure yet exactly which house that was].

Some time in the future a gymnasium [Alumni Gym] will be erected. A collection of $700 was taken for this purpose at the dedication services Sunday.

In the years to come many more fine, modern buildings will be added to the semicircle planned. A curbed driveway, and landscaped grounds will eventually add attractiveness to the campus.

And here’s what the Seward Independent-Democrat had to say on Oct. 16, 1924, in a column headlined “Lutheran College Notes”:

The houses of Prof. Schuelke and Prof. Koenig that were moved during the summer, have been thoroughly renovated and decorated. Both families are enjoying the new location as well as the many conveniences installed.

The new house being built for Prof. Hardt is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy by December first. The homes of Prof. Strieter and Prof. Haase will be moved next year.

The five houses will describe a semi-circle and when the new street and walks are laid out Faculty Lane will be one of the attractive parts of Seward.

In another part of the Independent-Democrat’s column on “Lutheran College Notes,” the newspaper mentions the strong Lutheran high school football team:

The Brainard eleven played the Lutheran high school last Friday afternoon on the college campus. The visiting team is new to football but showed pluck and perseverance. They were hopelessly outmatched by the local team, which accounted for the unusually high score [though the article doesn’t give the score]. However, a defeat may be a stepping stone to future victory.

Next Friday the Polk high will play here on the college grounds. An interesting game is expected.

After that, the Independent-Democrat has one more mention of Faculty Lane in the Lutheran College Notes:

Mrs. Wilhelmina Koenig, who has been visiting friends in Webster City, Iowa, the past two months, has returned to her home on Faculty Lane. She reports having had a fine time in spite of or because of her 86 years.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More St John Yearbook Pages

I have received scans of several more pages of St John's 1965-1966 yearbook. They are the pages showing the kindergarten, first, second and third grades and showing scenes from a Christmas program.

Here is one of the Christmas pictures, which shows part of the school band:

Starting from the 12 o'clock position and going clockwise, I recognize Steve Roettjer, Gene Meyer, Jim (Winston) Miller, Scott Brinkmeyer, John Garmatz, Toby Beck, Mike Sylwester, Jim Hardt and [not recognized].

The newly uploaded pages are in this Flickr set.

I am out of town this weekend. After I return home, I will crop out an individual photograph for each student on those pages and upload all those individual photos up into Flickr, as I have done for the older grades.

We still do not have a clean page for the sixth grade -- the grade that graduated from St John in 1968, the grade that included Steve Sylwester. We need someone with another copy of the yearbook to scan that page and e-mail it to me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Photographs of the Sylwester House on North Columbia Avenue

I have uploaded to this Flickr webpage seven photographs of the Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 01) after the house was moved to 1610 North Columbia Avenue.

You can select any of the images and then click on the ALL SIZES click-point above each image to see the image in larger and smaller sizes.

The earliest photograph, on this Flickr webpage, shows the house in August 1964, when piles of dirt from the foundation's excavation still could be seen near the house, which still was not re-painted.

The latest photograph, on this Flickr webpage, was taken in September 1966 and shows the growing landscape and the painted house.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pictures of the Sylwester House on Faculty Lane

Here are three old pictures that were found by Steve Sylwester and scanned by Liesel Sylwester. They show our house on Faculty Lane (Faculty Lane House 01) in mid-1964, shortly before the house was moved.

House at 276 Faculty Lane in Seward Nebraska, in 1964. The photo shows Steve Sylwester and Larry Sylwester as children. The image was scanned from a photograph that belongs to Steve Sylwester.

The above picture has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. This shows Steve Sylwester sitting on the railing and probably Larry Sylwester standing on the stair.

House at 276 Faculty Lane in Seward Nebraska, in 1964. The image was scanned from a photograph that belongs to Steve Sylwester.

The above picture has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. Printing on this picture records that the it was made in July 1964.

House at 276 Faculty Lane in Seward Nebraska, in 1964. The image was scanned from a photograph that belongs to Steve Sylwester.

The above picture has been uploaded to this Flickr webpage. The house's foundations have two rectangular holes that were made in order to pick up and move the house.

On each Flickr webpage you can click on the ALL SIZES click-point above the picture to see the picture in larger and smaller sizes.

A Photograph of G Township Hall

This is a photograph of an old building located near the north-west corner of North Columbia Avenue and Hillcrest Drive. I barely remember this building. It was empty and unused as far back as I remember. I don't know the original purpose of the building.

G Township Hall, near the corner of North Columbia Avenue and Hillcrest Drive in Seward, Nebraska. The image was scanned from a page in the Official Seward County Bi-Centennial Booklet.

The image was scanned from the Official Seward County Bicentennial 1776 - 1976 Souvenir by Harold Davisson, which identifies the building as "G Township Hall." Thanks to my niece Liesel Sylwester for scanning and sending me the image.

I have uploaded the image to this Flickr webpage. Click on the ALL SIZES click-point above the photograph to see the image in larger and smaller sizes.

Another Old Aerial Photograph of the Concordia Campus

This photograph was scanned from an old postcard by my niece Liesel Sylwester.

Aerial Photograph of the campus of Concordia Teachers College (now called Concordia University) in Seward, Nebraska. The image was scanned from an old postcard.

The photograph was done while all the old houses still were on Faculty Lane, which means before the summer of 1964. Because of the trees' foilage, only part of the Sylwester house (Faculty Lane House 01) can be seen. Can anybody date the picture more precisely?

I have uploaded the picture to this Flickr webpage. If you click on the ALL SIZES click-point and then select the ORIGINAL size, then you will see the picture in very high resolution.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Learning Spanish from Señor Schmieding

Late in life, Herman Schmieding decided to learn Spanish, and then he decided to teach Spanish to his sixth-grade class. I think our class, which he taught in 1963-1964, was the first or second class that learned Spanish from him. I don't know whether he continued teaching Spanish to the following two classes before he retired.

Herman Schmieding, upper-grade teacher at St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska

He told our class that he could have taught us German instead, but that he thought that Spanish would be more useful for us in the lives we probably would lead. That might be true, but I think that the primary reason was that he himself was more interested in the Spanish at that time in his own life.

He did not teach us very much Spanish. We didn't have textbooks, and learning Spanish was not part of the school's curriculum. He didn't teach us Spanish every day, and when he did teach it, he didn't spend any more than about 15 minutes on his lesson.

He taught us the meanings, spellings and pronunciations of a few common words and phrases. I still remember the following:

Buenas dias,Señor Schmieding ¿Cómo está Usted?
Good day, Mr. Schmieding, how are you?

Estoy bien, gracias. Y usted?
I am well, thank you. And you?

¿Qué día es hoy?
What day is today?

Hoy es lunes ... martes ... miércoles ... jueves ... viernes ... sábado ... domingo.
Today is Monday ... Tuesday ... Wednesday ... Thursday ... Friday ... Saturday ... Sunday.

Por favor, cuente hasta diez.
Please count to ten.

Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Muchas gracias.
Thanks a lot.

He made only an experimental attempt to teach us some Spanish grammar. One day he passed out to each student a mimeographed sheet that introduced grammatical gender. Every noun is masculine or feminine (even if it seemed neuter to us English-speakers) and the possessive pronoun had to match that gender. So, for example, the word libro (book) is masculine and the word pluma (pen) is feminine, so we were supposed to say un libro and el libro but una pluma and la pluma.

After only one or two such grammar lessons, however, he abandoned his efforts to teach us grammar. He recognized that he could not teach us grammar in occasional 15-minute lessons. He continued only to teach us various word groups, such as niño - niña (boy - girl), and desayuno, almuerzo y cena (breakfast, lunch and dinner). We never progressed significantly beyond that primitive level of instruction. In the end, we learned only a smattering of Spanish.

Even at that time when I was only about eleven years old, however, I was impressed that Mr. Schmieding himself had decided to learn Spanish when he was in his sixties and nearing his retirement. His motives for his decision and for his expenditure of time and effort intrigued me. As I recall, he mentioned that he had attended summer-school classes at the University of Nebraska to study Spanish, and he mentioned that he intended to travel (or already had traveled) on vacation to Mexico to practice his conversation skills.

A year or two after I finished sixth grade, I had to go to Mr. Schmieding's house on some non-school day to drop something off or pick something up. I can't remember what this task was about; perhaps it had something to do with my job delivering newspapers. This was the only time I ever went to his house, and I was there only for one minute at the door. I came to his door and knocked, and he came to the door, and I gave him whatever the item was or he gave me whatever the item was, and then I left.

What suprised me in this incident and what I still do remember is that he came to the door wearing a brightly-colored, floral-design, short-sleeved tropical shirt. I normally would call it a Hawaiian shirt, but in this context I suppose it actually must have been a Mexican shirt. Also, his hair was not groomed as tightly as usual; he was not wearing any hair pomade, so his hair was a little tousled. Any of you who had Mr. Schmieding as a sixth-grade teacher can imagine my surprise. We students saw him only as a very formal man. It seems that his Spanish-language hobby stimulated a different part of his personality than his students normally saw.

After I graduated from the eighth grade, I began to teach myself Russian as a hobby. Looking back now, I think my new hobby was encouraged by Mr. Schmieding's example, although I was not conscious of that association at the time. He had not given me any useful foundation for language study or inspired me with any passion for language study, but he had showed me that a person can teach himself a foreign language on his own. That was the seed that he planted in my mind that eventually became fruitful in my own life.

The idea of learning Russian occurred to me the first time when I was browsing through books in the children's room in the Concordia College library, when I was in about seventh grade. I happened to find a book about the history of Soviet espionage in the United States. This book claimed that in order to train its spies to speak English well, the Soviet Government had set up a small, artificial-American town where everyone spoke English and followed an American way of life. The spy students would live in this artificial-town for many months and thus perfect their English-speaking and other spy skills. Of course, this information captured my imagination, and I intensely envied those Russian spies who enjoyed such an unusual and fascinating experience. I imagined how wonderful my own life would become if I ever were selected to learn Russian in an artificial-Russian town that the US Government likewise might maintain in some remote location to train its own spies.

I soon adjusted this fantasy from a spy scenario to a Lutheran-missionary scenario. I figured that if I could learn to speak Russian like a native, then I should sneak into the Soviet Union and encourage and guide the underground church there and convert individual Russians to Christianity.

My fantasies about learning Russian for secret purposes remained idle and inert until my family was visited by my Aunt Marion and Uncle Hal in Seward in the early summer of 1966. Aunt Marion was not my biological aunt, but she had been informally adopted into my mother's family and grew up as a quasi-sister of my mother. After I was born, Aunt Marion became my godmother, a responsibility that she took seriously. She tried to develop a close relationship with me, and I tried to reciprocated her effort.

Aunt Marion's husband Hal (my Uncle Hal) had served in the US Navy for a few years and had received Russian-language training during his service. It so happened that during their visit to us in Seward in the early summer of 1966, the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming was opening in the movie theaters, and of course Uncle Hal wanted to see it, because (he had read) it had a Navy theme and had a lot of Russian dialogue. The movie was not showing yet in the Seward movie theater, but it had opened in movie theaters in Lincoln. Being the dutiful wife and godmother, Aunt Marion wanted to make Uncle Hal and me happy but doubted that we would want to travel all the way to Lincoln to see a movie, but after some discussion Hal and I agreed that we indeed were willing to travel so far. I wanted to spend time with Aunt Marion and Uncle Hal, and I also was intrigued by the opportunity to see a movie where there would be a lot of Russians talking.

So, we traveled to Lincoln and watched the movie, and we all liked it very much. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a delightful movie. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Film Editing and Best Screenplay Adapted From Another Medium). I have seen it five or six times in my life, and I always enjoyed it.

A scene from the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. The image was taken from http://www.idave.com/cine_R.htm
A scene from the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. The image was taken from http://www.idave.com/cine_R.htm
A scene from the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. The image was taken from http://www.idave.com/cine_R.htm
A scene from the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. The image was taken from http://www.idave.com/cine_R.htm

The movie depicts a comic situation that develops after a Russian submarine accidentally runs aground on a remote beach in Massachusetts. Nine members of the crew sneak ashore to find and borrow a motorboat to use secretly to push or tug the submarine off of the beach. Despite their efforts to avoid detection, the Russians soon are noticed by some inhabitants of a nearby small town, who deduce mistakenly that the Russians are part of a major Soviet invasion of the United States. Eventually, however, the Russians explain their accidental grounding, and the Americans recognize that these Soviet sailors simply want to get away without causing problems. The Americans help the Soviet sailors get away, which is a happy ending.

The movie does include a lot of Russian dialogue, because the Russian characters do speak Russian among themselves. Since the role are played by American actors, the Russian is not spoken with native accents, but the words are Russian. After the movie, Uncle Hal told me that he understood most of the Russian dialogue, which impressed me strongly.

I decided that I would teach myself Russian, so the next time that I traveled to Lincoln with my family, I bought a Berlitz teach-yourself-Russian book and began to teach myself. I never had any audio help -- records, tape recordings, a real Russian speaker -- to help me with my pronunciation. I just sounded out the words as best I could from the book's written descriptions of pronunciation.

I kept at this hobby on-and-off for the next three years. I would work at it for a few months and then drop it for a few months. My family moved to Eugene, Oregon, after my sophomore year in high school. At my new high school I had one study hour every day, and I usually spent that time studying my Russian.

Between my junior and senior year in high school, I attended a first-year Russian class in summer school at the University of Oregon. Then during my senior year I commuted to the Univesity every day to attend the second-year Russian class. After I graduated from high school, I enrolled in the University as a full-time student and continued to study Russian, although I considered myself to be a pre-med major. During my sophomore year at the University, I decided not to become a doctor, and I became a Slavic Languages major.

In order to graduate with a degree in Slavic Languages, I had to study one other Slavic language and either German or French, so I studied also Czech and German.

In the summer of 1971, I attended a two-month Russian-language program based at the University of Leningrad and then traveled around in Czechoslovakia by myself for one month. In the following summer of 1972 I attended a two-month Czech-language program at the University of Brno in Czechoslovakia and then traveled around in Poland for a month.

During the following years I taught first-year Russian, first-year Czech and first-year Polish at the University of Oregon as a graduate student and eventually earned a Master of Art's degree in Slavic Languages.

In 1978 I joined the US Air Force and then served for 14 years in Intelligence. During 12 of those years I served in the organization that interviewed immigrants and defectors for the US Intelligence Community.

I left the US Air Force in 1992 and then worked the next decade translating documents for the US Department of Justice's Office of Special Investigations, which investigated and prosecuted former Nazi collaborators who had immigrated from East Europe to the USA after World War Two. During that decade I translated hundreds of documents from German, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian and Belorussian.

Perhaps if Mr. Schmieding had not made his brief effort to teach us Spanish in the sixth-grade, then I would not have bought that teach-yourself-Russian book a couple years later. My life then would not have followed the course that it has followed. He planted one small seed in my mind, and that seed grew and gave me the main direction in my life.

Steve Sylwester commented:

Mr. Schmieding taught my class — his last class — Spanish, too. I was a poor (read: uninspired) student, but I did learn the greetings. Years later, I was bold enough to greet Mr. Schmieding in Spanish one day, and then the inevitable happened: he responded to me in Spanish, and I had no idea what he was saying. We both laughed about it, and that was the last time I ever saw him.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Singing the Doxology

Ronda (Kirch) Konst wrote:

One thing I will always appreciate from my Seward days is the music. I've never been in a community since that was so musically gifted.

That most of us have held on to that training was proven when the CSLS class of 72 held their 30th reunion (hard to believe we are that old--well, older now): we were having pizza at what I believe is Valentino's in Seward and we sang the Doxology in four parts as our prayer. It was truly one of the most moving moments of my life.

Here is a performance of the Doxology that is not sung in four parts but is sung with a lot of enthusiasm.

And here is the Doxology played on a kalimba:

And here is the Doxology played on a piano:

And here is the Doxology sung by a male trio:

And here is the Doxology sung in Hawaiian

Cross on Roof of House on Faculty Lane

A few days ago, I posted an old, aerial photograph that showed all the houses on Faculty Lane. Koe (Heinicke) Sylwester was looking at the photograph and noticed that the roof of the first house (Faculty Lane House 1), where our Sylwester family lived, was constructed so that it displayed a cross to anyone looking down.

House with cross on its roof on Faculty Lane in Seward, Nebraska. The image was scanned from an old photograph that belongs to Steve Sylwester.

It almost looks like the cross is drawn onto the photograph, but I think the cross really is part of the roof.

None of the other houses on Faculty Lane has a cross on its roof. You can see the neighboring house in the above photograph. All the other houses have similar, non-cross roofs.

Here is an aerial photograph of the house in its present location on North Columbia Avenue, and the cross still is seen clearly.

House with cross on roof on North Columbia Avenue in Seward, Nebraska. The image is taken from Wikimapia.

The house was built in 1895, which was eight years before the Wright brothers flew the first primitive airplane. Except for people who might fly over the house in a hot-air balloon, the cross would have been seen by no humans. So, the roof was made that way as a devotional sign to God.

Pledging Allegiance to the Christian Flag

Steve Sylwester remembers:

Herman Schmieding had us sixth-graders recite The Pledge Allegiance to The Cross (Christian Flag).

Immediately after reciting The Pledge Allegiance to The American Flag,

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

we students would turn to the Christian Flag,

Christian Flag. The image is from http://flagspot.net/flags/rel-chr.html

right hand still over the heart, and recite:

I pledge allegiance to the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And to the faith for which it stands,
one Savior, eternal,
with mercy and grace for all.

Below are excerpts from a webpage about the Christian flag:

The "Christian Flag" is a white flag with a blue canton and a red cross in it. It was designed by Charles Overton in 1897 to represent Protestants of all denominations. .... The meaning of the colours: White: purity and peace; Blue: faith and truth; Red: blood of Jesus Christ and love.

Such mainstream Protestant groups as the Methodists and Presbyterians gave explicit sanction to the use of the "Christian" Flag in churches in resolutions passed in the 1940s. A great many local church websites of mainstream Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, and, of course, Baptist) mention either the display of the "Christian" Flag or the pledge to it. This suggests that its use is rather widespread, beyond just the conservative evangelical bodies.

Lutheran churches began using the Christian Flag along with the US flag in churches during the World War II years. They attribute this practice to German-Americans wanting to prove their patriotism.

The United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran churches' websites contain articles expressing disapproval of the display of either the US or "Christian" Flags in churches. On the other hand, neither was prepared to say that their use is impermissible.

A conference of "mainstream" Protestant denominations some decades ago concluded that the Christian Flag, if displayed, should take precedence in a church over the national flag. Actual practice varies between individual parishes/congregations.

The Christian Flag is reported in use in Canada, and I have seen photos from Brazil and even a photo from the South Sudanese SPLA soldiers carrying it. I know from two German Free-Churches using it. .... The flag is also used by some foreign Protestant groups connected to US evangelical missionary organizations, particularly in Latin America.

Pictures on the Frontline Fellowship website showing the Christian Flag are mostly taken in Sudan and Zambia. Hundreds of Christian Flags are flying in each of those countries. They have all been taken in the last few years. These flags most certainly do play a part in the Christian communities. They serve as a witness, as an identification symbol, as an inspiration, and as a reminder that we are also citizens of the Kingdom of heaven.

The Christian Flag is the only free flag in the world. It is different from every other flag, religious or secular, ancient or modern. It is uncontrolled, independent, and universal. ...

Below are excerpts from a webpage about the meaning of the Christian flag for Christians in Africa:

What is the significance of the Christian flag and why are so many flying in the wind across Africa? The international Christian flag has a red cross to symbolise the blood of Christ, a blue square to symbolise heaven and white for the robes of righteousness.

In Exodus 17:15 we read --

Moses built an altar and called it:
The Lord is my Banner

Psalm 20:5 --

We will shout for joy
when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners
in the Name of our Lord.

Psalm 6:4 --

But for those who fear You,
You have raised a banner
to be unfurled against the bow.

Song of Solomon 2:4 --

And His banner over me is love.

Song of Solomon 6:4 --

Majestic as troops with banners.

Isaiah 18:3 --

All you people of the world
you who live on the earth,
when a banner is raised on the mountains,
you will see it.

In Sudan "Beyond the rivers of Cush" these prophesies are being fulfilled as churches fly the Christian flag, even in the Nuba Mountains. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard to which the righteous can rally.

Christian Flag in Africa
Christian Flag in Africa
Christian Flag in Africa

The Christian flag proclaims the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that He is "The King of kings and the Lord of lords."

The kingdom of the world
has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 11:15)

The Christian flag is a reminder that we who are Christians are also citizens of the Kingdom of God.

But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a people belonging to God
that you may declare the praises of Him
who called you out of darkness
into His wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9)

The Christian flag celebrates the victory of the cross of Christ.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities,
He made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross.
(Colossians 2:15)

A Brief History of Lutheran Schools

The following are excerpts from an article written by Melvin M. Kieschnick, an associate in ministry who has served Lutheran schools nationally and internationally for 45 years. The article was published in the March-April 2006 issue of the magazine Lutheran Partners.

Lutheran schools have always had a prominent role in the Lutheran church. Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon were professors at Wittenberg University. Melanchthon focused on curriculum revision at the post-secondary level. Luther centered his attention on the lower academic levels. He stressed the education of children and assigned responsibility for this task to parents, the church, and public authorities. He advocated instruction in the vernacular for girls and boys and a curriculum heavy on religion and music.

When Lutherans came to this country they often brought with them a determination to educate the young using a curriculum that included religious instruction. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg arrived in America in 1742 to assist the scattered Lutheran churches and their schools, especially in Pennsylvania. In addition to assisting with parish schools, Muhlenberg conducted one of the first “charity schools” in Pennsylvania. St. Matthew Lutheran School was established in New York City in 1752.

The emphasis on parish schools was even greater among the Saxon Lutherans who immigrated to the Midwest. Their goal was that every parish support a school. So important were parochial schools to them that, when they organized what is now The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), “the establishment and support of congregation parochial schools” was listed as one of the primary purposes for the establishment of that Synod.

Norwegian Lutherans in Minnesota in the late nineteenth century played a prominent role in establishing nine separate church-owned and -operated academies (secondary schools). These were regional schools rather than congregational schools and had close ties to the denomination’s district or other judicatory. These schools were either only for girls or coeducational, were often the only high school available to the students, and often included residential facilities for students. Most notable among these is Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo, North Dakota. Originally intended only for girls, it was named Oak Grove Lutheran Ladies Seminary. Today this school, headed by the Rev. John Andreasen, continues to be faithful to its strong religious values and reaches an international student body in its grade 6–12 programs.

The first public elementary school, under Horace Mann, was founded in Boston in 1821. The emergence of the public school system had a significant impact on the role of congregation- or synod-sponsored schools.

Among Lutherans, two distinctly different emphases emerged. The LCMS and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) advocated strongly for congregation-based schools. Usually a single congregation supported a school, and an association of schools sponsored a joint high school. This practice continues to this day; there are some 1,500 early-childhood centers, more than 1,000 elementary schools, and approximately 100 high schools in the LCMS. These schools enroll almost 300,000 children. The LCMS developed an extensive system of prep schools, colleges, and universities with the principal objective of preparing qualified and church-certified teachers for its schools. Such teachers are on the LCMS roster as commissioned ministers, are subject to the same church oversight as ordained pastors, and are officially recognized by government agencies as ministers of religion.

The WELS has 383 preschools enrolling 8,500 students, 354 elementary schools with 26,700 students, and 27 high schools with an enrollment of 6,500 students. The synod operates Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, as its teacher-training institution. Some 80 percent of the teachers in WELS elementary and high schools are graduates of this college.

While the status of both LCMS and WELS teachers as commissioned ministers remains unchanged, the mission of the colleges and universities of the LCMS have now all expanded, offering not only training for the teaching ministry but also a variety of other liberal arts programs.

In contrast to these LCMS and WELS systems, other Lutheran churches have placed their emphases on post-secondary education, resulting in the 28 colleges now affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). These colleges share a common mission of preparing students for exercising their Christian ministry of vocation of service in and to the church and the world.

Today, congregation-sponsored schools are a massive, if often unnoticed, ministry in the ELCA.

The three immediate predecessor-church bodies to the ELCA each had a different stance toward congregation-sponsored schools. The former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) discouraged congregations from operating schools, supporting them only in unusual circumstances. The LCA officially opined that the church’s primary responsibility was to support public education and saw parish schools as being inconsistent with this basic commitment. Thus, there were fewer than twenty LCA elementary schools, and these were principally in urban New York, Philadelphia, and the Caribbean. ....

The former American Lutheran Church (ALC) had a somewhat different history. It should be noted that in areas such as Minnesota there were many ALC churches, and the public schools often had a strong Lutheran (or at least Protestant) aura. In communities composed primarily of Roman Catholics and Lutherans, the Catholic children went to their own parochial schools, while the Lutherans went to the public schools, where the teachers were likely to be Lutheran, classmates went to the same Lutheran congregation, and Christmas and other church festivals were observed in the public schools. In other parts of the country, especially California, the situation was different, and many congregations operated day schools. .... Some thirty of these California elementary and high schools continue in the ELCA.


In the years immediately preceding the formation of the ELCA .... some seventy ALC elementary schools became affiliated with the ELCA.

The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), the third body included in the ELCA, brought with it the LCMS tradition of seeing the parish school as an effective place to train persons for Christlike service in the church and the world. The AELC brought into the ELCA 19 elementary schools with 4,227 students and 218 teachers (about half of whom were officially rostered) and 27 preschools with 461 students and 30 teachers. ....

Since the formation of the ELCA, several major movements in congregation-based schooling have arisen. Certainly the most dominant is congregation-supported early-childhood education. Major attention on this mission and ministry opportunity has come from the former Division for Higher Education and Schools (now part of the Vocation and Education program unit) and the ELEA. Data have been collected, resources provided, partnerships developed, and educational conferences convened. These two groups also assist in opening new schools, providing accreditation processes, and advocacy with government agencies.

Today, congregation-sponsored schools are a massive, if often unnoticed, ministry in the ELCA. There are some 1,600 early-childhood centers ministering to more than 100,000 children and their families and 275 elementary schools ministering to some 50,000 students.

Lutheran schools at all levels are probably the most ethnically inclusive agencies in the ELCA. The percentage of non-Anglos goes up at each age level. Thus, the non-Anglos in preschools total 13 percent, in elementary schools 24 percent, and in high schools 33 percent.

Approximately 50 percent of all teaching staff are Lutheran. In almost all cases they meet state certification requirements. Salaries are usually well below those paid in public institutions at the same level.

The amount of money involved in ELCA preschools, elementary schools, and high schools is some $500,000,000 (yes, five hundred million) a year.

There is consistent evidence that congregations with schools (at whatever level) gain new members from school families, and the average growth of congregations with a school exceeds the average for congregations without schools.

Concurrently, there has been growth, though less dramatic, in groups of congregations supporting Lutheran high schools. There are currently 17 high schools with ELCA congregation support. Most of these are jointly supported by LCMS congregations. (Latest LCMS policy permits continued ELCA/ LCMS partnership in schools where that is now in place, but no new partnership can gain LCMS recognition.)


Two significant regional organizations supporting ELCA schools are The Lutheran Schools Association of New York, headed by Marlene Lund, and The Lutheran Schools of Southern California and Hawaii, headed by Alan Feddersen.

In closing, as I look at the current situation regarding ELCA congregation-based schools, I want to highlight the following:

1) There is ongoing need for these institutions to evaluate and be clear on how their mission is integral to and supportive of the congregations that sponsor them. Continued attention needs to be given to securing third-source funding. Too often the teachers are subsidizing the schools through working for too-low salaries. With third-source funding, schools can accept more students on a blind-to-financial-need basis.

2) We owe gratitude to God and to all of those people who commit their time and energy, often at considerable personal cost, to the nurture and support of God’s children so that each one is assisted to more nearly become all that God intended them to be.

3) The seminaries of the church need to continue to train pastors to understand their relationship to congregation schools. .... A suggested text is The Pastor and the Lutheran School.

4) Continued concern is needed for all the children of our land, whether in public or private, that all may receive the best possible education.

5) The call of Jesus to care for his children is new every day. God will surely continue to bless those who exercise this care of children and their families through Lutheran schools.