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American History
Last Alumni Meeting on Campus


       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 my position.”

       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 laughter anyway.

       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 one-hundred-year status.


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