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Chilocco - Today and Yesterday
Chilocco Shaking Yesterday, 1936


“We marched every where.” Mother began one of her stories about her boarding school, Chilocco, she attended when she was a girl. “I was a Captain and responsible for my own platoon. We had girls from every tribe from Seminoles to Cheyenne. The Seminole girls had a hard time keeping in step. I don’t know why. It might have been the way they had lived in the swamps. I’m sure they didn’t just march straight ahead there. The alligators and snakes would have been something to consider.

Oh, I don’t know what it was that made them have a hard time marching. There was one girl I remember who was very tall. When she was out of step her height made her so obvious. Every time I looked around there she was with one foot thrown out to the side. No matter how much we yelled at her she still couldn’t march. Finally I just gave up and put her to the back of the line so I wasn’t able to notice her marching so much. The ranks above us must have been looking the other way, too, because everyone ignored her, equally.”

Mother continued. “One day we were all in place, ready to march back to the building from chow hall. Shirley was in my platoon. She was such a little doll all the boys were always trying to get her attention. She had a grin as wide as her face while she was waving at her boyfriend. I just ignored her. She was so cute, really, no one could find anything wrong with her behavior.”

The girls were still lined up inside the lobby at Home Five waiting for their morning, uniform inspection by Ms. M.

“Now girls!” Ms. M. had earned the nickname, ‘Mrs. Broom.”

“Now girls!” She was strong in her readiness to reprimand them.

“We can’t have any breaking of the rules while in line. Shirley, who were you shaking at?”

A quick ripple of questioning expressions ran through the platoon. Every girl’s eyes were widened a bit. “What did Ms. M. mean?” Shirley was the one who was being questioned, though.

“Mrs. M. I wasn’t shaking at anyone.” Shirley was serious.

“Oh yes! Yes you were. I saw you.” Ms. M. was quite sure of her accusation.

“I saw you smiling and shaking at someone.”

“This is when it dawned on me what the older woman who was unmarried, was describing, when she raised her hand and waved her fingers. It was my job to keep the giggles down and keep my own face from breaking into a big grin. We all kidded each other after that. “Don’t be shaking at anyone, now!” Mother laughed while she remembered the event as it had happened in 1936.


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