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American History
Chilocco - Today and Yesterday

Luepp Hall

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. Pronounced, loop hall.

Lizzie, the captain,  marched her company from the dormitory building calling cadence, thus 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 a designated  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. Not much of an opportunity was given to have association with a boyfriend. Even waving their hand was not encouraged.

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. Shorter skirts were enjoyed. 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 Taylett Morgan 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. Taylett was one of the students who had stayed on at Chilocco as a life time employee.

The girls strolling across the lawn at that year of 1972 were wearing short mini skirts and tall boots.

“Taylett!”  “What happens if her skirt gets any shorter?”  I laughingly asked. 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 Taylett said, “Do you remember thepunishment for  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 around 1984, 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. A rattle of a piece of metal against the side of a building, kept a staccato beat for the ghosts of marching children,  one could still feel were there.

As we strolled  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. The interior of the building was dark with no lights.  I was curious about the beautiful murals of stylistic paintings which had adorned the walls. They had been  so soft and pleasant in 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 to see they were no longer 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 to keep out vandals, sweep and pick up historical documents to send to the archives, and mow and mow and mow the vast grounds. After they left, this  was not even practiced.

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.  After the closing those few people who remained on campus were greeted by deer grazing on the oval in the morning. Little foxes were seen. Large cats too began to stalk the plentiful deer there. The paradise once existing for the protection of American Indian children now became a secure place for the little varmints, even up to and including the beavers who set up housekeeping at the edge of the lake. This was commenting on by an uncle who worked for a number of years as a security guard. This was before my brother and his wife went to work as caretakers.

Luepp Hall was actually quite a center for the coming together of many students. Beside the daily three meal many other activities and trades were practiced in this building. Home Economics classes,  including: Sewing, cooking, health and nursing classes, family values,  and social training for banquets and private parties. The cosmetology classes allowed many girls to graduate with a certificate which readied her for working. On the east side of the building was the bakery which did two things. It provided the bread and other pastries for the daily meals of the total student body and was a training for boys who wished to work at this as a vocation after they graduated.

The kitchen was located in this building and there was the latest equipment in use. A walk in cold storage stored produce from the school's orchards and gardens. Great stainless steel vats cooked the food. Beef, mutton, pork produced by the school was cooked here.  Mr. Werneke was over this department while I was there. He and his wife, Mrs. Werneke, who was over the girl's department,  worked at Chilocco until they both retired.

Upstairs more or less hidden in one of the inner rooms was a classic, traditional, classroom where Mrs. Wapp taught weaving. The beautiful large looms were always in use and one could see the girls quietly weaving beautiful rugs and fabrics.

These are my memories. Since I was in Home Economics, I'm sure many other students will have their own experiences. I remember some students were bitter.  Some said, “Don't you know all the employees do is gossip about us?”  Or maybe, somewhat crude nicknames were given to the employees in a quiet rebellious way, supposedly  all in fun.  In my innocence this didn't come across for me while I was a student. Even as an employee I had so much respect for the people who came from all over the nation to dedicate their lives to the education of the Native American Student. Contrary to all the evil reports at the closing of the school telling of abuse and cruelty,  I never saw it.

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