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(Part 2)

The following are personal remembrances of persons who were associated with the schools.


Audrey Homme remembers Spicer School from 1936, with one room for grades I and 2 and another downstairs room for grades 3, 4, and 5 with a library in between. The principal's office was on the "up" stairway landing, and upstairs were grades 6, 7, and 8 and a room with a stage. They ate lunch in that latter room, bringing lunch boxes from home. There was also a "cloak hall" in that room with a fire escape in it. The slide down that fire escape was part of fire drill. Many children were scared; but the peer pressure to be brave and take that slide was strong enough so that they all took the fast ride, sitting on their backsides. It was fast, and one had to try to land on one's feet. Someone-most likely a teacher-was at the bottom of the slide to catch the smaller children taking their first slide.

Audrey's most vivid memory of 1st grade with Miss Hovde as the teacher: "I was a student who was constantly going up to her desk-and I never tied my shoelaces. She finally got irritated and decided to meet me half way and ordered me to take my seat. I said, 'I can't. You're standing on my shoelaces."'

At recess they often played kick ball, hopscotch, and a variety of "tag" games. They had a slide, swings, a teeter-totter, and a merry-go-round. Most of the recess activities were organized by the kids. On a few occasions teachers were summoned for injuries or fights. Mostly recess was fun and friendly.

Spicer was a small town with a small school, so the teachers knew the parents. Audrey doesn't know if they had conferences, but the pupils knew that their parents would back their teachers. PTA was a social event and an essential part of the education. She remembers humorous readings. Her mother, Gillenora Famess, would perform some skits with other parents, and Audrey was so embarrassed. During World War 11, the parents took Red Cross training for emergencies.

Spicer students went to Willmar High School in 9th grade. Audrey went from a class of nine to a class of 209. It was a difficult transition; but Spicer students generally did very well academically, which speaks well of the kind of education they received in that brick building.


Mrs. Leigh Homstad (nee Evelyn Ekblad) recalls her memories of the school: "The Spicer school is, to this day in my mind, a sort of caring sentinel -- a red brick, two-story building with its frontage of wall-to-wall windows facing east toward beautiful Green Lake. One particular nonacademic experience, which I still remember with awe, was a dramatic natural phenomenon: In an otherwise clear, blue sky, a cyclone funnel was moving from the west. It glided gracefully just north of our school and east toward Green Lake, where about mid-lake the funnel touched down, drawing up a spectacular funnel of water. It was an awesome sight, one that our very thoughtful teacher, Irene Rykken, encouraged us to watch. There was no fear, no panic on our part-perhaps a reflection of a general sense of security in being 'at school'."


Recollections of Bobbie Rykken Kleinschmidt: "When I think back to my childhood and growing up years in Spicer, I am reminded again of what a very special time and place that was. For the most part, Spicer in the '40's was a safe and secure place in which to live and grow. Spicer School did not have an elaborate gym or, until I was in the upper grades, a hot lunch program. By today's standards the classrooms would be considered crowded, but we had teachers who truly cared that we learned and parents who were involved and supportive of both teachers and children. People were there for each other when tragedy or problems occurred. Yes, there were "characters" too. They were not teased or ridiculed too often, just tolerated and accepted. People trusted each other, and most people worked to achieve fairness in their relationships with others. There were many neighbors and townspeople who cared for us and were interested in what we were doing. There were role models and heroes who set an example for what a caring person should do and a friend could be.

"Organized outside of the school but related to it was the Spicer band directed by a Willmar music man, Sid Sonnichsen. I have no recollection of how the decision was made or who made the arrangements to have instruction in band instruments available to Spicer young people. But sometime in the early '40's it happened. Mr. Sonnichsen and his wife, who taught string instruments to those children not interested in playing in a band, came out from Willmar one night a week. We met at the school; each interested participant had a private lesson, 10 or 15 minutes long. After an initial period of two or three months, when the lessons were over, we grouped together and a Spicer Band was born. Many future Willmar High School band members got their start with Mr. Sonnichsen and his 10-minute lessons. At least once a year we performed in the Spicer Town Hall."