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Chilocco School Short Stories
Luepp Hall

The buildings having to do with the functioning of the school set around the outer edges of the space called the oval. At the north end of the oval was the two storied quarried rock building called Luepp Hall. The downstairs southern part of the building was the very large dining room where the boys and girls had their meals together. This was in 1955. For this remembrance we must slip back to another time and year and that would have been around 1890.

Lizzie, the captain, marched her company from the dormitory building calling cadence, seeing to the straight lines and orderly arrival for breakfast at an early hour. The girls already had passed inspection at their building as to their appearance and the tidiness of their uniforms. Their long hair was twisted up onto their head in the neat fashion of the day. One by one the various companies marched to their place. When all had arrived, the command was given for them to take their seats. One part of the building was given to the girls and another to the boys. There wasn't much of an opportunity to have association with a boyfriend

When Lizzie's daughter attended the school, the military regime was still in effect. However, the rigid compliance to the marching had been relaxed. There were still the uniforms but they were more relaxed also. They, for one thing, were of shorter skirts. To compensate for the showing of legs the girls wore long black stockings which they hated. The seating arrangement was the same, separation of boys and girls and this continued on into the year 1955. This rule was rather relaxed by this time and the boys and girls often stayed around the building after meals until the time they were officially allowed the lawn social every evening. As for a uniform, there was none other than the accepted modest dress of the period.

In the year 1970 Taylor and I stood looking out of the wide windows of the modern newly built student union building. It now took a place between the old dining Leupp Hall and the center of the oval. The girls strolling across the lawn were wearing short mini skirts and tall boots.

"Taylor!" "What happens if her skirt gets any shorter?" I laughingly asked him. We had been students together and were easy with our acquaintance.

"Get taller boots!" Came his grinning reply.

They both were watching the reclining students, boy and girl, sitting up against a

tree. As if to read her thoughts Taylor said, "Do you remember what would have happened to us if we were caught off our feet on the lawn?"

"I surely do." "Restriction for the remainder of the year." They both enjoyed laughing about the obvious informal relaxed society now at the school.

Some years after the school was closed, we had an opportunity to visit the grounds, since my brother and his wife were the caretakers. As we walked about the oval, the buildings were so painfully vacant. There was a rattle of some piece of metal against the side of a building keeping a staccato beat for the ghosts of marching children one could still feel were there.

When they were walking past the old dining Leupp Hall I wanted to look into the building. Pulling one of the heavy old doors open was an effort and to reward our efforts there was a rush of wings as pigeons rushed out of the building. There was no light but I was curious about the beautiful murals of stylistic paintings which had adorned the walls. They were so soft and pleasant in their earth colors. The method of art almost gave them a character like the Egyptian drawing on the walls of tombs.

"What happened to the murals?" I was so disappointed not to see them there."Oh, they painted over those years ago." My sister-in-law informed me.

"Why?" "I can't believe it!" "Why would anyone so purposely destroy anything so beautiful?"

"I suppose that is a question a lot of people would like to have answered." My sister-in-law was a young woman who had never attended school at Chilocco. All she and my brother could do was keep out vandals, sweep and pick up historical documents to send to the archives, and mow and mow and mow the vast grounds.

Gradually, and slowly the place became again a haven for animals who were claiming their former habitat as it was kept from them for more than one hundred years. The remains few people after the closing who was bringing about finalization were greeted by deer grazing on the oval in the morning. Little foxes were seen. There were large cats too beginning to stalk the plentiful deer there. The paradise once existing for the protection of American Indian children now became a secure place for the many little varmints, even up to and including the beavers who set up housekeeping at the edge of the lake.

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