History Questionnaire Results – Pat Vining

This submission comes from Pat Vining, sister of Donis Barker
& Connie Hutchinson

What would you like the Historical Society to
focus on?

Gathering historical photos,
documents, artifacts, family stories,

probably just what you plan to
do.

5. Did you attend school here? What years? Any
special memories (such as your first day, etc?)

I don’t remember my first day of
school. I do remember hot lunches being served in the basement,

to the right as you went down the
stairs to the right of the front entrance. We had so much
macaroni

and cheese and peanut butter because
they were government commodities, I am sure (the cheese

and peanut butter were). The cooks
baked light rools most days and were they ever good!

I attended grades 1-3 in St. George
and then we moved back to the farm and went to Elm Slough

country school one year before it was
closed and we started back to St. George. Elm Slough had almost no
books, as library or free reading books, although our parents took
us to the Manhattan Public Library regularly. But when I came back
in the 4th grade, I was so excited to see all the library books we
could choose. It was wonderful!

Our 4th & 5th grade teacher, Miss
Ethlyn Parry, said she would take the girl and boy who had the
best

spelling grades to a movie. So, she
took Bob Morris and myself to a movie in Manhattan. It seems to me
the movie was John Wayne in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. but I’ll have
to check the dates to see if that’s a possibility. Although our
family went to movies occasionally, this was still a really big
thing to go with your teacher and a boy! Miss Parry is living in
Indiana and I have her name and address, so I may write to her and
suggest she write some of her memories about teaching school at St.
George. She was right out of Manhattan High School with only a
summer at Emporia State before she began teaching. She was little
and cute as a button and we all just loved her. I have reconnected
with her in recent years.

H. Wayne Channel was our 7th &
8th grade teacher and also was principal. He was a retired military
officer, very sober and commanding and yet we all liked and
respected him very well, too. Well, I shouldn’t say we all because
I know there were some who had discipline problems, as is always
true. He encouraged me to write even more than Miss Parry had, and
I feel it was those years in 7th & 8th grades when I developed
a love even more for reading and writing that contributed to my
choice of majoring in journalism at K-State. I had the opportunity
to correspond with Mr. Channel in later years and also visited with
him a couple of times. He coached the girls’ basketball team, and
probably the boys’ also, and we always had a good time on bus trips
to other schools. The fellowship we developed was wonderful! I
don’t know when he left St. George, but will ask my sister, Connie,
if she had him as principal.

Lee A. Scott was high school
principal all four years of my class, 1950-54. His wife, Mrs.
Scott, taught English. I remember she sat at the teacher’s desk,
rarely got out of the chair, everyone behaved very well, there was
no talking without permission, and class was very structured. How
different things had become by the time I began to teach junior
high English classes in 1973! Oh my, what a difference!

The gym was built the summer before
our class began as freshmen, (1950), so we were the first ones to
get to use it and have the old gym in the high school part of the
building remodeled into a study hall, SMALL library (almost hidden
under the stairs, home ec classroom, restrooms, and offices. But,
we thought it was all really glorious! Looking back now, I realize
the academic work was minimal and we certainly weren’t challenged
as we could have been and should have been. But am sure that’s the
way most small schools were then, (the 50s.) There were 12 in our
graduating class, 10 girls and two boys.

6. Where was your favorite place to spend
spare/free time? How much did it cost?

I was busy with going to all kinds of
4-H activities and helping some on the farm and don’t really
remember much of a social life. We girls had slumber parties at
each others’ houses, played Canasta, made popcorn, taffy, etc. ,
listened to the radio or played 45 records if we were lucky enough
to have a record player. Our dad would crawl under the living room
and re-inforce the floor with more blocks because we girls did the
Glow Worn dance so much we made the floor vibrate.

Most of us didn’t date much, but
stayed with groups, especially since our class was almost all
girls. I imagine most of us thought the few girls who had a
boyfriend from Manhattan or Wamego were really privileged, but
looking back, I don’t think I missed that much. Most of us managed
to have dates to the junior and senior proms.

7. What job opportunities were there for kids?
Adults?

I didn’t look for a job until the
summer after I graduated from high school, 1954, and then was hired
by the Manhattan Recreation Commission to do office work. meaning
lots and lots of typing (manual typewriter, of course) of
playground, baseball and every other kind of summer activity
schedule you could think of. The office was on the first block
north of Poyntz on Fourth Street, next to where the newspaper
office USED to be and there is a paring lot there now. The building
has a name which I’ll think of sometime. It seems to me that I
worked 30 hr. week and made $25 week, but am not sure. I sure had
lots of typing experience by the time that summer was over, but it
probably paid off when I began to take journalism classes and could
compose at the typewriter. I returned to work there the summer
after my first year of college, also. Frank Anneberg was the
Recreation Comm. director and hired me.

I don’t recall that many girls worked
part-time while in high school, although perhaps some did at

Duckwalls.

8. What recreational activities did you partake
in? (i.e., sports, skating rink, band, etc)

Blackjack 4-H Club and our class
usually had a skating party every year, and this was a real treat.
The skating rink was across the viaduct on K-77 in the building
just to the right before where Briggs Auto Center was before it
moved recently. There was a carpet place there in recent years but
believe it is something else now. (I’ll try to pay attention the
next time I drove by there.) We occasionally went to the Manhattan
City Pool, although for some years in the 50s we weren’t allowed to
swim much because of the polio scare. Even health officials didn’t
know how polio was being spread and it was a real threat so most of
us rarely went swimming.

9. How did most people get around the town (and
farther?)

Most boys had their own car by their
senior year, it seems to me, but girls never did. We used the
family car if we just had to go to Manhattan for something. And the
few girls with boyfriends had them for transportation, of
course.

10. Did you have a phone? Was it on a
party-line? What’s your favorite party-line memory? Do you remember
any phone numbers?

Yes, it definitely was a party-line
but I don’t remember numbers.

11. When did you get electricity? What kind of
difference did it make?

According to the book written by my
dad, Don Clary, in 1978 as a gift to their three daughters for
their 50th wedding anniversary in January 1979, we first had
electricity in 1948 (KPL). This is at the farm two miles plus north
on the Flush Road, just before the S curve. Some electrical company
had a power station of some kind right off that curve, so KPL
wouldn’t go any further north than our place. REA came down the
Flush Road from the north about the same time.

One thing I remember before
electricity was having the battery radio on for only a few hours at
a time. We often would go to Manhattan after my dad did the chores
on Saturday morning, hauling a load of some kind of grain to grind
at Manhattan Milling Co. (a small trailer behind the car since we
had no truck.) On the way into town, we’d stop at Perry Packing Co.
and sell a case or possible two cases of eggs. Perry Pack was on
the far east end of Poyntz Ave. Daddy would drop we girls off to
walk a block or two to take piano lessons while he and Mother went
on to the mill, then they would pick us up near the library because
we would go from piano lessons to the library most of the time.
Piano lessons were $1 for the two of us. We spent the egg money for
groceries at the A&P and then came home, getting home in time
to listen to Let’s Pretend on the radio, then turning it off until
a short time for news, and then the K-State basketball game when it
was that season.

When it was time to do our first 4-H
sewing, 1946 for me, we went with Mother to pick out the feed
sack

we want to use for the apron we were
required to make in 4-H and Mother selected ones for her
dresses,

sometimes curtains and other things.
This was an exciting thing to get to do—pick out feed sack
patterns!

12. When did you get indoor plumbing? What’s
your favorite outhouse story?

We had a good well and windmill on
the farm, but had to carry water to the house, to the chickens, and
other places. IWater ran from the pump through a pipe to two big
water tanks for the cattle. So, with electricity in 1948, we began
to have water piped to the different places and did put in a
bathroom…….what a treat! Like most farm women, my mother had a
gas engine on a Maytag washing machine that was kept on the east
screened-in porch. Boy, was it cold doing the wash there in the
winter. Carrying buckets of hot water from the kitchen to the
washing machine was actually pretty unsafe, but I don’t remember
mother ever spilling any or anyone getting burned. The clothes
often froze on the clothesline. However, we did have a butane floor
furnace (and refrigerator), which were later converted to propane,
so we put a broomstick across the floor-furnace (rested each end on
a chair) and dried clothes in this way.

13. What invention had the biggest impact on
your life?

I’d have to think about this for a
while.

My parents got their first TV set in
1956, I think, when I was in college. so I wasn’t used to TV either
at home or in the dorms, except when I would occasionally come home
on school breaks. (I had a Saturday job all the time so didn’t get
home on weekends much.)

When my husband and I were married in
Jan. 1958 we, of course, didn’t have TV. When K-State was playing
in a big basketball game that was televised, we’d go out to my
folks and watch. There were not many games televised then, usually
only the Big 8 or NCAA tournament games. However, the Cats had good
basketball teams during those years, and it was really exciting to
see them on TV.

Football victories then were few and
far between. But Ernie Barrett and others were king!

More about K-State basketball during
the years I was in high school later.

14. How many floods have you experienced here
in St. George? What do you remember most from each one?

I remember thantduring the 1951 flood
quite a number of families were staying at the school
temporarily.

Those of us out of the flood area
cooked meals, cookies, etc. and took into the school to help feed
the dislocated people. This was before hardly anyone had thermos
bottles, ice chests, plastic containers or much of anything like
that. But, we made do with what we had, putting meals in metal pie
plates and using cardboard boxes, etc. The flood victims were
sleeping on mats of blankets on the gym floor and at least had the
school restrooms and locker with showers to use.

There are probably some folks still
living in the area who spent some time in the school during the ’51
flood.

15. What are the biggest local news stories you
remember?

The flood, of course, K-State
basketball since I was an avid follower, and an incident where a
grade school boy accidentally shot and killed another grade school
boy and then, because he was so frightened, hid the deceased boy’s
body. This was very hard on the families and the whole community.
Ft. Riley soldiers having training out in our area in the country
occasionally.

18. What are your memories of the Spring
Tank?

First, I have never in my life heard
it called a tank. It was always just Blackjack Spring, with
Blackjack always being one word. (With my background in journalism
and then an English ed degree from KU later, I’m very aware of
words used, capitalization, punctuation, etc., and I am concerned
that Blackjack is being spelled with two words, which I believe is
incorrect.)

Blackjack Spring was always there,
always running, and looked much better before the road was elevated
and the tank part showed more. We drank from it all the time,
oftening having permission to leave the school grounds to go down
to the sidewalk in front of Dalton’s Store and wave and do cheers
for the K-State basketball team as they drove to Forbes Field
Airport, or perhaps to Lawrence or Kansas City to play. We made
signs to wish them well and were crazy, nutty sports fans, just as
fans are today, only without the tailgating. We were usually
noticed and sometimes mentioned in the Manhattan Mercury or by Dev
Nelson on radio, and that made our lives very exciting!!

19. What do you think of the new mural on the
side of the store? Do you remember the first painting? Did you
help?

Both murals are before my time
although I have seen and appreciate them.