January 30, 2004 saw a
handful of former students meeting at the Chilocco Arch. Thankfully the
heaters in their cars were all in good working order. Just a step out into
the air met them with a chilling reminder of what month it was.
One couple came from Tulsa. A
graduate of 1947 came from the Ponca tribe. A reporter from a leading
newspaper was there along with her photographer. My brother and a friend
came with me to worry with my cars eccentricities. It would have been a
nice outing for my handicapped daughter and the two-year old if the car was
more dependable. We always have to think ahead for those who cannot walk
when a break down in frigid weather could mean disaster for them.
All were bundled up against
the knife like winds sweeping down over this prairie location. Thank heaven
for Kapok and other insulation materials in puffy warm coats. My own wool
coat with a hood and a scarf served me well
Sharply dressed in a heavy
long slim tailored woolen coat, tall warm boots and a cap pulled over long
beautiful tresses of curly dark hair was our reporter, Dawn Marks. She was
incredible young it seemed with carefully stylish make-up on lovely pale
clear skin. “You are beautiful,” one of the former students told her.
Indeed she was.
While the reporter,
photographers and former students worried with photo taking and story
writing my friend, who is a scientist kept to our own site seeing. Most
people of the area have never been allowed to see the whole school. This was
a privilege for him although, of course, these were only the bones and
ghostly spirits of what once was. He couldn't get enough picture taking.
There was no keeping him still in the car with his camera. “These buildings,
these buildings!” He kept muttering.
While he took in the sites of
bothered ancient stone work overgrown with vines and grasses my heart went
to other times and places. If I looked very hard and long across the oval
would I be able to see some of my friends, youthful and full of energy still
waving to me. Could I still see the mischievous grins of my favorites? Of
course I can, I thought. In my mind will always be the glow of happy
childhood countenances with unconquerable spirit. Some are in the cold
ground with promised resurrection. It is true. Will we all walk that Happy
Hunting ground together?
Yes we will, surely as we
walked this oval during lawn social.
Only the photograph of Home
Four, girls building, remains. This mammoth structure burned in 1933. The
Home Four building on the grounds now was rebuilt as the modern structure it
is. Home Four, new building's lines are square and box like. There are not
the gables, vines, portico and general romantic castle like base as in this
picture. Two of the other buildings, Home Three and Home Two, with this
same romantic grace were torn down in the fifties.