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American History
Chilocco Socials

       Part of the success of the school went to the constant activities involving the students. It seemed there was never a minute when boredom was entertained. So many clubs, sports, vocations, socials, church attendance, maintenance duties, choir and others were exercised. I know I'm not mentioning everything because this is only what pertained to my own schedule.

       This changed when employee status was gained for me and I was more aware that employees were expected to attend the socials, too. I knew this because there were always employees at the socials when I was a student but it had not really registered that they were there as a part of their job. It wasn't for extra pay but just an accepted pleasurable duty.  Some of the women made the comment that their lives began and ended at 7:45 p.m. which was the time for activities to start. One woman even told that she must time her child's birth for 7:45 p.m.

       There was the customary military grand march entry when everyone marched into the ballroom together with arms joined. Sometimes when I see old movies depicting a social on an old western fort it gives me great memories as the actors march into the room in that fashion.

      When we were students some complained about the employees watching them. “You know they are gossiping about us,” some of the girls were uncomfortable with what they felt was too close an observation of their activities.

      On the other hand, while an employee, my new situation made me realize there weren't  hidden motives with staff watching the students. I can't speak for the other employees but for me it was a thrill to see these students who were just barely younger than myself,  working so diligently to do the social practices they were being taught. Some were learning to dance and that was special. Others who were older and had mastered the skill. They  were graceful and charming in their movements. Strong Native American features made them beautiful with a natural poise.

       Remembering the nervousness I felt when first coming to the school gave me a respect for the brave, quiet manner these children, young adults had.

      Somehow these activities gave the staff a unity, too.  It was as if we felt so good about the work we did.  No matter that some of the jobs were as menial as my own, that of secretary. Certainly there were teachers and instructors who made this their life long, dedicated commitment.  Even though it took four years for a child to come into the school and then to graduate, the days were taken one at a time. These socials were just like a sparkle of a promise as the students who were dressed in their best suits and pretty dresses whirled around and about the dance floor.

       The dances, ball  games,  sports activities, games, church socials,  by today's standards would probably be considered slow. But, at the time, there was nothing backwards about them.

       Pageants in the spring time around the dark waters of the lake at night alternated every other year with the operetta presented by the choir. Every part of the pageant was a production. Lights on performances by the gymnastic groups, vocational acted out vignettes, gifted soloists and so many other presentations made the parents proud who had traveled to the school to watch their children with this activity.

     The operetta was performed by amateurs but after hours and hours of practice the stage acts came off as sharp as a real show. Costumes and music created the whimsical works of Gershwin, Richard Rogers and others.

      The values of the employees during that year of 1956 were above reproach. There were no shadowy, hidden secret liaisons. To my knowledge the workers were strong Christian with a tightly established goal and they were a little like missionaries. They sacrificed their whole lives to see the Native American be given a chance to learn a trade or go on to college to become good citizens in society. It was a wondrous opportunity, my working there,  and it added more to my education than any other time in my life.

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