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American History
Child Care, 1955


     Mother's who worked at The Chilocco Indian School brought their children through the doors of the small house which had been designated to be the day care building.  Those little people were all from two years and up. Their warm,  fluffly-coats, mittens and caps gave them the warmth they needed for these windy,  piercing cold mornings. Their mama would stand for a moment with them while the tiny person in front of her hung their head but otherwise did not complain. I was just a girl but I identified with the children because my own mother had always worked with Dad on the ranch. She took us to our Grandmother in town so they could do the ranching chores. I don't think I ever remembered at all, the exact time she left. Gramma always had me busy with some activity and Mother wasn't missed.

       This was happening to these children also. They hung their coats in the little stall where their name was marked. Evidently it was a learned habit because surely they were too young to read. If  rain boots were pulled off these were put on the bottom of the tall, narrow small box like cabinet. As methodically as if someone was guiding them, one by one, the kids  walked over to the shelves holding toys. The girls who had obviously worked here before were busy with helping the little ones find their own particular favorite toy.  When they were through with a certain toy they dutifully picked it up, returned it to its place on the shelf,  before they took out another.

       The free time did not last any longer than it took for the last child to arrive. Every activity was acted out much like a choreographed dance. After a frugal morning snack of fresh squeezed orange juice and some other small tidbit the little people lined up to quietly step up onto a small stool so they could brush their teeth, this was after a toothbrush had been retrieved from their own cabinet. Their parents were military people and so were the children.

       It didn't matter that the freezing wind blew over the play yard. These tough little people were dressed in their warm coats, mittens, and caps for a brief play time outdoors. Some of the more tender hearted girls held one or other of the smallest children in their arms which gave them a little warmth. Fortunately the fresh air requirements were kept to a minimum when a freezing climate outdoors there on the edge of Northern Oklahoma close to the Kansas line made even breathing difficult.

      Meal time found these quiet, disciplined children seated four around a miniature card table just their size. The meals were taken at an adjoining house where the tables and fresh white tableclothes had been evidently placed there by the girls who were in Practice Cottage and this was yet  another part of the home economics training.


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