WELCH JUNIOR HIGH FACULTY
John E. Harlan
The long-time principal of both Welch Elementary School and Welch Junior High School located at 120 South Hyland Avenue was John E. Harlan (1898-1970). He was already principal there in the year 1936 and may have been that earlier. His wife Dorothy S. Harlan (1899-1972) became the principal of North Grant School in January of 1945.
Since this building was demolished in 1977 and it is impossible to go look at it any longer, I am endeavoring to give some physical arrangements of the educational spaces we lived and learned in as best as I can remember.
The Principal’s office was located on the east side of the second (top) floor just to the south of the east stairwell. The office was not very wide, but it was deep enough for two desks: the first for the school secretary, the second from the principal.
My earliest awareness of him was when Chuck, my older brother was a student in Welch Junior High (1948-1951). Mr. Harlan called my father to report some problem with Chuck and requested my father to discipline Chuck.
Dad told him, “You’re the principal and you’re in charge. It’s your responsibility, not mine. Do whatever is necessary, and I’ll back you one hundred per cent.” Dad’s philosophy was this: if you misbehave at school and are punished there for it, you’ll get twice the punishment at home.
I don’t know any more about that episode, but by the time I entered Welch Junior High, there was no question that Mr. Harlan administered the school with a firm hand. Being sent to the principal’s office was no thing to be taken lightly–especially in light of what happened one time.
A boy was sent to the principal’s office and Mr. Harlan took the child down two flights of stairs to the basement and turned right (north) to enter the Shop (Industrial Arts) classroom. There Mr. Harlan gave the boy a spanking with a board. I cannot quite remember who the boy was, but I think he was in the class ahead of mine.
Word of this, of course, traveled through out the student body like wildfire.
At the same time, he must really have been an understanding person to have tolerated the noise we made in the hall outside his door when passing from one class to the next. To have put up with that hour after hour, day in and day out, suggests he was a saint of a man.
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A boy in the class ahead of mine, Johnny Sylwester, wrote me a letter dated 6 February 2010 in which he recorded some of his memories and thoughts of the Welch faculty. Regarding Mr. Harlan, he wrote:
To get from the hall into his office you had to walk through a sort of narrow long place, with a bench along one side where you had to sit before deliberations started and the sentence was pronounced. Roger–he actually had a paddle hanging on the wall. And a big grandfather clock and a rolling chair on little wheels. But he was a good man in terms of fairness I suppose. I spent time there in excess of most kids, but just under the real criminal level. The trouble was, somehow my dad & he were friends. So I always got the double whammy like you mentioned in your sketch.
Miss Cleoma (or Cleona?) Schneider
In the 1940-41 Ames City Directory, Cleona Schneider taught at Central Junior High School, while in the 1949 directory Cleoma Schneider taught at Welch. Both spellings are also found in the Ames Daily Tribune.
In the 1920 U. S. Census one finds only one Cleoma Schneider and no Cleona Schneiders. Cleoma was seven in 1920 and lived on a farm in Allamakee County, the northeastern-most county in Iowa.
During our eighth-grade and ninth-grade years, Miss Schneider taught us mathematics in the east classroom just south of the principal’s office. The south wall was the front of the classroom and the entrance was near the back of the room off the hall that ran north and south just west of the classroom.
In eighth-grade she taught us general mathematics which I found terribly boring. I could care less how many fence posts one had to buy to put up a fence of such and such a length so that the posts were six feet apart. That problem was mine, I knew, and I considered her an excellent teacher.
I must admit, however, that this kind of math was useful once when I helped a friend in Minnesota panel a room his basement: I showed him how to do it with three fewer panels than he thought were necessary.
Also, Miss Schneider was a firm believer in seating students in alphabetical order. She would never budge on this issue when students asked for a different seating arrangement. My guess is she wanted the papers turned in in alphabetical order so she wouldn’t have to sort them because correcting math assignments could be time-consuming in and of itself.
I strongly wished Miss Schneider would have bent a little on this because in General Math, I always had the same girl in the desk in front of me [I prefer not to mention her name]. This presented me with two problems.
The first was that she was taller than I, so I sometimes had a hard time seeing the black board.
The second problem I want to put as softly as I can. Let me put it his way: after sitting behind this girl all year, I was convinced that her family ate baked beans nearly every day and perhaps could not afford much else [now you know why I prefer not to mention her name; however, I will say that her family moved away and she was not a graduate of Ames High].
Fortunately, I didn’t have either problem in ninth-grade Algebra. I absolutely loved this kind of math! And to the best of my recollection, I sat in front of the girl this year. We were still seated in alphabetical order–but in reverse! Thank you, Miss Schneider, from the bottom of my heart!
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Regarding Miss Schneider, Johnny Sylwester wrote to me on 6 February 2010:
She had red hair and I was very impressed by the fact that she had been a WAC (Women’s Army Corp?) during WW II. Dad told me that she knew how to handle Japs and Nazis so I’d better be good. . . . . She would put wise thoughts on the blackboard. Once she wrote “Man is so constructed that he cannot pat himself on his back.” . . . . I spent weeks trying to do so!
Miss Ada Irene Versteeg
Miss Versteeg was our English teacher and Latin teacher in ninth grade. She taught in the next (and last) classroom south of Miss Schneider’s class room. The front of her classroom was also the south wall and the entrance was near the back of the room of the hall west of it.
In her English class, she required each of us to write down the rules of grammar that she taught us. Many of them were not in our textbook. Partway through the year, we learned from her that she was teaching us from a college grammar textbook.
And that turned out to be the case. All through the rest of my high school and college years, I never learned a rule of grammar that she had not already taught us. And when it came to taking the Senior English Proficiency Exam necessary for graduation from Iowa State, I found it a breeze.
One of the rules of grammar, I have rarely found to be followed, even by professional writers and teachers of English grammar, is this: a gerund should be modified by a possessive pronoun rather an objective pronoun because a gerund is a verb form functioning as a noun.
Thus, one should say, “I loved to watch his running” (meaning basically, “I love to watch the way he runs”), rather than “I love to watch him running.” But then, so few people know what a gerunds are and treat them as though they were participles.
Miss Versteeg made it a requirement that in her English class everyone, including herself, had to speak with correct grammar at all times. If anyone broke a rule of grammar, anyone else in the classroom could interrupt the person and correct him or her on the spot. This made learning and speaking the English language into a wonderful game. All of us were poised to hear such grammatical mistakes and pounce on the speaker.
The greatest event all year was catching Miss Versteeg in making a grammatical mistake. We listened intently to every sentence she spoke. Yet, we caught her only three times all year!
One of those “mistakes” she made was when she used a participial instead of a gerund. When corrected, she graciously laughed and accepted the correction. She then went on to explain the very subtle difference in that particular case and agreed she had erred. What a joy she was!
Learning to think and listen carefully to conversations in Miss Versteeg’s classroom was a wonderful reinforcement of what I was experiencing at home. My father, being a professor at Iowa State, was also very interested in the correct usage of words.
We kept a dictionary at hand during meals so that we could consult it to settle disputes over such matters. The dictionary was closest to me, so I was the one who had to look up the definition of the word under discussion to settle the intellectual disagreement confronting us.
Of course, I always read the definition that seemed to support my point of view. But to no avail!
Dad would say, “Let me see that,” and wrest the dictionary from me and then, triumphantly, read the definition that actually pertained to the dinner-time discussion.
What fun we had at dinner, and what fun we had in Miss Versteeg’s classroom!
Those of us who were taking Latin from her had another blessing regarding the English language. We had to learn the etymology of English words from the Latin words we were learning. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Her Latin tests often included writing down English words that were derived from a particular Latin word. I still smile thinking about this wonderful thing she was doing with us.
We had Latin in an era where learning that language were going out of vogue. I was grateful, however, that I had it, for when I was in a Lutheran seminary, many of the historic theological terms were in Latin because Latin was for centuries the theological language of Christianity in Western Europe. The combination of Miss Versteeg’s English and Latin classes gave me a huge advantage over my fellow seminarians.
Latin also played a part in some of our lives in another way. During our high school years a group of us used to go Christmas caroling in our Fourth Ward neighborhood. The first time we went, Mary Kay Arthur suggested we sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in Latin (Adeste Fideles). We could do that because we had learned it in Latin. And so during our high school years, we sang that one in Latin each year.
Not long after we started ninth grade, Miss Versteeg was ill and missed about three weeks of school. Our substitute Latin teacher was Adeline L. Lush (1899-1992), wife of Dr. Jay L. Lush (1896-1982), professor of Animal Husbandry at Iowa State. Mrs. Lush was well known in the community for giving talks about this and that and the other thing connected with her many trips here and there in Europe, North America, and South America. She also had been a French instructor at Ames High. We found her to be an interesting person indeed.
When Miss Versteeg returned, however, she gave us all a Latin test to see what we had learned in her absence. Fannie John LeMoine, who had a real gift for languages and became a professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, got a C; while the rest of us failed it altogether. Afterwards, we had to work like dogs to get caught up.
From my perspective, the education I received from Miss Versteeg was one of the most important building blocks of my life.
She was truly a remarkable teacher. Nevertheless, I suspect none in our class knew how remarkable she was in other ways. I didn’t until I discovered the following while doing research on her for this chapter.
On January 9, 1943, Ada I. Versteeg, a native of Iowa (born in 1901), and a resident of Story County, Iowa, went to Des Moines and enlisted in the Womens Army Corp “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law” and placed with the Branch Code of Inactive Reserve and the Grade Code of Aviation Cadet. For education she had four years of college, and her civil occupation was teacher in a secondary school (at Ames High in 1944; see picture at the end of the chapter) and principal (Perhaps she was a vice principal or acting principal at some time). She was single, without dependents, 63 inches tall (5' 3"”) and weighed 129 pounds.
Regarding her military service, we discover a note in Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), May 20, 1943, in an article entitled Three WAAC’s Earn Promotion Stripes, this paragraph:
At the same time word has been received of the transfer of six auxiliaries from the Marana Airbase to Fort Des Moines, Ia., where they will take training in the officers’ candidate school. These WAAC’s have been at Marana for a period of two weeks. Those leaving are: Mary L. Boothe, Auxtin, Tex., Edith J. Norton, Weeping Willow, Neb., Joyce Anderson, Duluth, Minn., Lillian Cramer, Los Angeles, Calif., Lois Patterson, also of Los Angeles, and Ada Versteeg, Ames, Ia.According to the Social Security Death Index, it appears that she was born October 5, 1901, and died Dec 20, 1991, her last residence being Orange City, Sioux County, in northwestern Iowa. This city, founded in 1870 and originally named Holland, is noted for its Dutch settlers who came from Pella, Iowa, looking for cheaper land.
This tells us that she basically returned home for her last years, for in the 1910 and 1920 U. S. Census, she was living in Hull, Sioux County, Iowa, which is about 13 miles north and 4 miles west of Orange City. In both censuses, her father Herman Versteeg was a barber in Hull where he ran his own barbershop. However, her age in these two censuses would suggest she was born in 1903.
According to the Ames City Directories, Ada was a teacher at Welch Junior High in 1936, 1945, and 1949.
Her hometown newspaper, the Sioux County Index (Hull, Iowa) gives us a few glimpses of her earlier life. For example the issue of August 22, 1913, notes:
Miss Ada VerSteeg (“VerSteeg” is the way her surname appeared also in the 1910 and 1920 U. S. Censuses) fell out of a hammock Sunday evening and is now confined to her bed, with a fractured shoulder blade. Her many friends hope that it may not be long ‘er she is out and among them again.The November 23, 1917, issue of the paper sets forth the program of the Thursday, November 22, 1917, Declamatory Contest at Hull High School. The fifth item was entitled “The Minister” presented by Ada VerSteeg.
In the June 8, 1923, issue we discover:
One of the social events overlooked last week by our reporter was the shower given by the Misses Ada VerSteeg and Ann DeVries at the VerSteeg home for Miss Florence VanWyk a bride of this week. The young lady was the recipient of a large number of most appropriate and beautiful gifts and a most enjoyable evening was spent socially.The September 17, 1920, issue reports that Ada had left to attend school in Pella, Iowa, Presumably to attend Central College there,
In 1929, Ada lived in Sheldon, Iowa. In 1931, she and her mother and sister moved back to Hull.
From the November 4, 1932, issue, we learn that “The Misses LaVerne Booser and Ada VerSteeg of Ames visited relatives and friends here over the weekend,” while the July 28, 1933, issue tells us that Ada’s mother and sister Mildred went to Ames to visit her. The next year we find that Ada was the executrix for her mother’s estate, which took more than ten years to settle.
By 1969, Ada Versteeg had moved to Orange City, Iowa.
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Concerning Miss Versteeg, Johnny Sylwester waxed eloquent to me in his letter of 6 February 2010:
Ada Versteeg. Perhaps the greatest teacher I ever had, if not the greatest, certainly one of the best. . . . I cannot state strongly enough how superlative I found her love of the English language and the mechanics of it to have impressed me . . . . I absolutely loved diagraming sentences and figuring out the parts of speech and punctuation–all of it. I have always since she was my teacher been proud of the fact that I knew how to diagram a sentence. And here is something else. Today even many English teachers draw a complete blank – have never heard of it – when you mention diagraming. When I was still a teacher, in fact, I would always judge an English teacher by Versteeg standards & almost all would fail.
Her grooming was absolutely impeccable and she had a very subtle sense of humor. She was an Army Air Force pilot as you pointed out during WW II. That fact alone really impressed me. Just about the only thing I was never really able to get a handle on were transitive and intransitive verbs–but that was my brain failing and not her expertise.
Miss Matilda C. Martinson
Miss Martinson presided over the large room on the east side of the building just north of the east stairway. Her desk was in front of the south wall of the room and the entrance was near the front of the room. There were eight windows and a couple of radiators along the east wall. The windows were high enough, however, that a student sitting at a desk could not see anything out the windows except the sky. In the north part of the room was the school library, for she was the school librarian as well as the music teacher and an English teacher.
Besides being my seventh-grade English teacher, she directed the Boys Glee Club and the Girls Glee Club and did so very well indeed. I greatly enjoyed participating in glee club my first two years at Welch. As a seventh-grader I was proud that I was a soprano and could sing high C above the treble clef with ease higher than most girls. But my voice changed and I became an alto in eight-grade. The next year I became a baritone but my report card indicates I didn’t take music.
Miss Martinson had greying hair which she treated with some kind of rinse. As a result, when the light caught her hair in a certain way it looked not grey but purplish. Behind her back we called her “Tillie, the woman with the purple hair,” but we meant no real disrespect by this. It was just something new in a teacher of ours.
In the 1936 Ames City Directory, Matilda C. Martinson was listed as an instructor at Welch School and lived in the Cranford Apartments. In the 1945 city directory, Matilda Martinson was named as a teacher at Welch Junior High School, living at 2825 Arbor near where our classmate Fred Errington lived. She is not listed in the 1949 city directory.
From the Ames Daily Tribune we learn in the April 20, 1950, issue that she was the director of the Welch Junior High Girls Glee Club. The April 29, 1950, issue reports that the eighth grade at Welch had presented an assembly under her direction.
Part of the program was the playing of Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy on the piano by my brother Chuck [although his last name was misspelled in the newspaper article as Boetz].
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Regarding what I wrote above about Miss Martinson, Johnny Sylwester wrote me on 6 February 2010 the following:
You say purple, I say blue [hair], but yes, Tillie was her “behind her back” name. During one of my years in Glee club, we presented songs from State Fair. I thought we were all on our way to Broadway! I got to sing the solo O Holy Night on the front inside steps during our Christmas show when I was in 8th grade I believe. That was the high point of my musical career–all down hill since.Johnny’s comments reminded me that in Glee Club, we sang songs related to the various branch of the military–songs like “On the Road to Mandalay” and the song about the Army artillery, which started with the words “Over hill, over dale We have hit the dusty trail, And the Caissons go rolling along.” There were more, but I cannot retrieve the memory any longer. Returning to Johnny Sylwester’s comments:
We would go “into the stacks” area of the library and hide in a little alcove of some type with the huge Dictionary which she had and look up sexy words like vagina or breast or clitoris or penis and get all excited (Jon Piersoll, Bob Stebbins, Don Sanford all from my class).
Miss Reba E. Carey
Her classroom was the first one west of Miss Martinson’s room and the front of the room was the east wall with the entrance near the front of the room.
I remember her as my Social Studies teacher. One of the things that is burned in my brain is how when she was teaching us about the American Revolution, she traced the descent of the British King George III from Cedric, the first King of Wessex. This instilled in me a love for doing genealogical research which has been my main hobby throughout life.
I remember that when she was dressed for activities in the gym, she
wore old-fashioned bloomers. During our junior high years, there
was an NBC television situation comedy entitled “Mr. Peepers.” Set
in a school, one of the funniest characters was the English teacher Mrs.
Gurney, played by Marian Lorne (1883-1968), who sometimes wore old-fashioned
bloomers in the show.
Of course, at such times I always thought of Reba Carey and laughed harder than ever when mentally mingling Miss Carey and Mrs. Gurney into one person. As a result, Miss Carey was a doubly favorite teacher of mine.
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In an email dated January 11, 2010, classmate Judy Sylwester Moser reported that she and her brother John, who was a year ahead of us, remember memorizing the Gettysburg address for Miss Carey. Judy added this comment:
Reba would always and forever tell us..."You play ball with me, and I'll play ball with you."
Judy’s brother, Johnny Sylwester, added the following in his letter to me dated 6 February 2010:
Judy didn’t say all of Reba’s lingo. After “You play ball with me, I’ll play ball with you” would invariably come “See what I mean?” repeated 3 or four times. But it was said as one word “seewhatImean?” all in one splat.
The last time I saw Reba was at her apt. on West Street in Ames. I went there, I don’t recall if it was during my St. Olaf years or when I was a very young teacher, to thank her for her help–one of the few times I’ve done that to my regret.
Miss Janice Anna Van Zomeren, 1953-1954
Mary Ver Hoef, 1954-1955
Miss Van Zomeren taught in the room west of Miss Carey during our eighth-grade year. She joined the faculty of Welch in the fall of 1953 to teach English and Girls Physical Education. She was from near Pella, Iowa, and had graduated from Pella High School and in 1953 from Central College in Pella (Janice Van Zomeren Beran received an Alumni Award from Central College in 1976 as a Speech major).
Presumably Miss Van Zomeren replaced a leaving faculty member, but I have no recollection of who that might have been.
One of the things that she had us do was to write a short autobiography. I had fun interviewing my mother about my birth for this paper.
One time, David Goheen, one of the students in our class, had been talking in class without permission. As a result, Miss Van Zomeren, kept him after school to write the sentence “I will not talk in school without permission” on the blackboard fifty times.
She then left to attend a teachers’ meeting. When she returned, she discovered he had written the sentence on the blackboard fifty times in Hebrew (he was Jewish). She indicated he had not done what she asked.
He responded by telling her she had not specified the language in which he was to write.
She then had him write the sentence fifty times in English.
When he told us about all of this, we were amused and felt that Miss Van Zomeren had lost that one. We thought she should have just laughed when he told her she hadn’t specified what language, agreed with him, and let him go. But then, she was an inexperienced teacher at that time; and we didn’t hold it against her.
She did not return to Welch the following fall because she was named the first 1954 International Farm Youth Exchange delegate from Iowa to the Netherlands where she would live from June to November of that year.
She was succeeded on the faculty the Fall of 1954 by Mary Ver Hoef.
I cannot remember anything about her, nor do I know how long she was on
the faculty there.
Mrs. Elizabeth L. Coulter
Across the hall from Miss Van Zomeren, Mrs. Elizabeth L. Coulter (1903-1998), a widow of F. M. Coulter, taught science in this southwest classroom on the second floor. As best as I can recall the front of the room was on the west wall and the door was near the front of the class room. I think I had eighth-grade science from her. In any case, I remember what fun I had getting together a tree-leaf collection, a rock collection, and a fabric collection for science (and I think for her class).
She was fairly strict, and some of us got the impression that she favored the girls over the boys. We called her “Liz” behind her back.
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Concerning Liz Coulter, Johnny Sylwester wrote to me in his second letter, 7 February 2010:
She had an adult daughter also named Liz. Any way she was quite striking, blonde, shoulder length hair–really pretty. . . . . We called them Big Liz & Little Liz. Some how she & my mom were friends. In the summer Big & Little Liz would come out to our house & gardens & get tomatoes, corn, beans, lots more. Big Liz drove an enormous pre-WW II Buick, a huge car with which I was quite taken.
I will be forever grateful to B. Liz for her instruction in geology. I can still recite the different kinds of Rocks. Over the years I have built a very comprehensive Rock & mineral collection, fossils, too, lots of them. Most I’ve been able to label to some degree.
Mrs. Gwendolyn Lindahl
Mrs. Gwendolyn Cecil Margaret Lindahl, nee Swift (1908-1998), was the wife of Clarence Homer Lindahl (1906-1987), a professor of Mathematics at Iowa State. She joined the junior high faculty in the fall of 1953 as a half time Science and Mathematics teacher and left there in the Fall of 1956 to teach plane geometry at Ames High [her picture can be found in the 1957 Spirit (Ames High yearbook), page fourteen].
I think she was my ninth-grade science teacher, but I’m not sure.
I cannot remember where she taught. Perhaps in the classroom
next to Mrs. Coulter.
Mrs. Lyda Nordyke
Mrs. Nordyke, widow of M. L. Nordyke, was a fifth-grade teacher at Welch Elementary School where she had been teaching from 1936 or earlier, but she also taught a few junior high classes. She evidently taught my seventh-grade math class on the first floor, but I have no memory of that. Rather, I remember her as the one who taught us Iowa History for a semester followed by Spelling for a semester.
She made Iowa History come alive for her grandfather had been a settler in Iowa prior to statehood. She was also proud of the fact that Iowa had the highest literacy rate of among the states, about 97 per cent if memory serves me.
She did not teach in our school during our eighth-grade year because she was on a year’s leave of absence because of her health.
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Concerning Mrs. Nordyke, Johnny Sylwester wrote me on 7 February 2010 the following:
I think she was our 5th grade teacher. She had a crooked spine [with a] little hump at the top. One day at recess we were playing “chicken fight,” where a smaller guy gets on the shoulders of a larger guy and then they try to knock the adversary down or over or off his mount. Nordyke came running over & said we shouldn’t do that as we would bend our spine & end up like she was. We just laughed, but she was right.She got mad at Dougie Shepard once & stabbed him with a sharpened pencil. The lead (graphite?) broke off in his shoulder, no infection but a big bump formed with a little black spot inside it, like an insect gall. Even at AHS [Ames High School] when we were naked in the shower in gym class we’d shout to Dougie, “Hey, Dougie, show us your Nordyke wound.”
Miss Marie Guendling, 1952-1953
Miss Helen Steege, 1953-1955
Marie Guendling sometimes had taught us art at Crawford Elementary School and I enjoyed learning new art techniques from her. In Welch School, she taught us art in the northwest room of the basement.
In art class, Mary Kay Arthur occasionally sought to help a fellow student instead of doing her own work. I remember when Mary Kay got into trouble for being helpful to other students instead of doing her own work and got bawled out. Miss Guendling told her that she, not Mary Kay, was the teacher and should sit down. Having observed that, it came as no surprise to me when Mary Kay chose teaching for her career.
In 1953, Miss Guendling was made supervisor of elementary art for the Ames schools, so the new art teacher at Welch was Miss Helen Steege from Waverly, Iowa.
According to my report cards, I did not have art in Grade 8 or Grade 9, but I do remember Miss Steege talking to us once in Miss Martinson’s classroom about something related to art and architecture. She had us go to the east window and look over at Campus Baptist Church while she pointed out in detail the lack of architectural unity in that building.
She left Welch Junior High the same time our class did, and she was succeeded by Mrs. Marion Martin Slavens.
* * * * *
On 17 February 2010, I telephoned Johnny Sylwester and had a delightful conversation with him. I questioned about something he’d written about Marie Guendling; and he told me that he had asked his mother why Miss Guendling had such big mood swings and his mother had replied that it was because she had migraine headaches and that was why she drank a lot. Additional things he wrote about Miss Guendling in his letter to me on 7 February 2010 follow:
Oh, there are lots of Guendling stories. One day she shouted at us in art class, “Do you think I like your work? Here’s what I think of your work.” At that she picked up a whole stack of our paintings 2 or 3 inches high and started throwing them at the open window above the bike racks on the north, all muddy & wet (late winter / early spring). She was mad at Marcia Lindquist for some reason. All our nice paintings went out the window. Then she sent Gary Morrison out to retrieve all of our dirty & muddy paintings.
Once she said, “All right, clear the tables. Take everything off–make them absolutely clean.” I had my little Cub Scout uniform on with my neckerchief so I thought I would be clever to lay it on the table as I sat all hunched over. She saw what I was doing & she screamed, “You think that’s funny? Here’s how funny I think you are!” and she picked up my neckerchief & me and & actually hoisted me up off my chair for a second or two, hanging by my neck. Then let me fall down onto my chair with a plop. I still can’t believe it, but it’s true. I know my butt cleared the chair.
One more: the whole class was in the basement in the big wide hall between [the] 2 lavatories, maybe there were art supplies there. All of a sudden as she stood up in the middle of us all, she said, “Do you kids ever play Elephant Walk?” Then she put her hands together, with her elbows maybe touching, bent over, way over, and started loping around using big awkward strides up & down the hallway, with her (trunk, elephant) arms swinging back & forth, making loud squeals, head looking up, mouth open. You can imagine how weird & funny we all found that sight. She kept it up for maybe a minute. We were all aghast, but no one dared let even a giggle squeak out.
Mom told us she played poker a lot. Somehow Mom knew her outside of school.
Keith M. Van Winkel
Mr. Keith M. Van Winkel (1915-2008) taught Industrial Arts in the room located two floors below Mrs. Martinson’s classroom, and north of the east stairway. He also taught boys physical education and was involved with the sports program. We had him for “Shop” in the eighth grade. Behind his back we called him “Rip.”
I knew him better as a member of Memorial Lutheran Church, where he was elected secretary of the congregation during our junior high years.
* * * *
Concerning “Rip,” Johnny Sylwester wrote in his letter dated 7 February 2010:
He was our hero. We found out that while he was baseball player at ISC he hit 1 maybe 2 home runs. To hit a home run at the college level made him really special. He probably hit more than that.
His constant harping on the fundamentals of athletics basketball, baseball, football was a life lesson I’ve never forgotten. When our ‘57 class gathers, the talk of the Welch boys always turns to what a great coach he was, even tho he gave demerits in shop.
Once I thought I’d be extra friendly so I called him Rip to his face. His stare in return–no words, just a look–is a moment I’ve never forgotten. I never did that again. I still have all my shop projects & drawings. I loved shop wood & metal.
Carl Turner Sodergren
Carl T. Sodergren (1919-2008) was from Lockridge, Iowa; and his last residence was Sunnyvale, California. His class room was west of the Shop in the north side of the basement. The only class of his I remember clearly was Civics. He gave me a great appreciation for the Constitution and Bylaws of our country. The other thing I remember is that he mentioned that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of the greatest politicians our country had ever seen, adding, “He could shake your hand with one hand and, at the same time, pick your pocket with the other.”
* * * *
In his letter of 7 February 2010, Johnny Sylwester wrote fondly of “Sodie” as follows:
He was really my friend. He was the B Squad BB coach, and as that was the extent of my athletic ability, I fit in nicely. I loved playing BB although I finally figured out I was too short, too slow and couldn’t see & had lousy reflexes. Once my dad (who really had been his H. S. BB Team Captain) came to watch a game. He asked Sodie leading questions, trying to find out if I had a future in BB I suppose. I overheard Sodie’s answer. “Johnny has a good sense of rhythm.” Figure that out. Anyway I don’t think Dad ever came to watch me again. But Sodie was a good guy.
Once I drew a political/economic cartoon concerning the Panama Canal. Sodie really like it & put a BIG red A+ on it. I still have that. He took me to his house (He lived on the south side of Lincoln Way 1 or 2 blocks west) & showed me his boat. Just a little boat really, but wow, what a nice thing to have I thought.
Charleen Woolverton taught Home Economics in the large room just south of the east stairway. I was in that area only a couple of times. That was because our eighth-grade classmates had fixed some food and we boys were invited over to eat what they had made. The only item I still remember was meatloaf.