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
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.