The year of Chilocco's
closing, 1980, was when we were gathered for the last time at the school for
our alumni meeting.
“Well, here we are,
orphans again!” Commented the prettiest of the girls in our class, who
still looked like a doll of adult sized proportions, even though we were
stepping into twenty-five years from the time of our graduation in 1955.
She was laughing and joking about how she had slipped out one night when she
was living at Home Four. This was a bit of a risque activity in which some
of the more adventuresome girls participated and it had a name. It was
called night hawking. Years later at an alumni meeting if anyone would admit
they had engaged in the activity they were given certificates of the “Night
Hawking Society,” or some other title of equally foolish nomenclature.
“Chuckalut, the night
watchman was looking all over for us,” she continued her story. “He was
like a bear tromping around while pointing the beam of that flashlight here
and there into the darkness. I was lying down on my back in the flower bed.
My arms I had stretched out flat, with palms on the ground. All at once he
stepped on my hand. 'OUCH! That hurt,' I hollered out loud.” The woman was
enjoying her memories of her girlish school days.
When we stopped
laughing at our sister-classmate's story she went on telling more. “I jerked
away from him when he tried to lead me back to the building. 'DON'T touch
me.' I said it with all the self-righteousness I could muster considering
And then, there was
more laughter. “How could this sweet, innocent childlike woman be guilty of
breaking rules?” It was just too incredible to believe but we enjoyed the
For myself, because I
went into Chilocco at the middle of the regular four year term I always felt
slightly apart from everyone else. I never was left out of activities, of
course. The school was set up so this could not happen. There were no
wall-flowers at Chilocco. However, the girls who were there as freshmen had
formed their friendships and they were more or less a tight little circle.
They might tolerate a little intrusion into their group but not permanently.
This was okay with me because in the world of a far out ranching community I
had already learned to be more comfortable to be left to do what I wanted
with my own time. We always had a room-mate and I was very contented with
the association on that level. It made for quieter, calmer living, I felt.
The girls who were in a larger group seemed to be just a little more likely
to cook up schemes and things. They were learned in these activities and
crafty about not getting caught. However, that could happen and I preferred
not to be the risk taker some of them were.
I was valued as a
companion on this our last night at the school though, because my
classmates of yesterday brought a chair to sit at the very edge on the
center of the dance floor. Here I was led and seated. During the evening
while everyone danced, on occasion, one after another would come up to me
and kiss me on the cheek. It was like they were performing for me as I had
done numbers of times with my dancing on stage for them. It was such a
wonderful sweet gesture I couldn't believe that after all these years those
I had known while we were students still held a kind regard for me. I'll
never forget that lovely night. The daylight on the following day made us
look at the realities of what it meant to be at our school for the last time
and this is a sad memory. On the other hand, the happy times of the night
before balanced out the melancholy. History couldn't be changed though and
there was an inevitable closing of that school before it quite made its