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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook by Bill Blauvelt Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
For many the school buildings we attended are but a memory. The country school and all Superior buildings I attended have been torn down. My country school was the first to go. The Pleasant Valley and Valley View districts consolidated while I was in high school. Residents of the district tore down the Pleasant Valley building and used the material they salvaged to construct and addition to the Valley View building. For a handful of years, Valley View operated as a two-teacher school. By the time I was out of college, Valley View had closed. Mine was the last class to graduate from Superior High School. The building remained for 10 years or so and then it was pulled down and the rubble hauled away.
Former pupils who attended grade school in Oak are fortunate their building still stands. As a youngster, my friends who attended the Oak school made me jealous. Though the Pleasant Valley and Valley View school houses built in the 1920s were larger and newer than most, I was envious of my Oak friends.
Oak had a multi-room brick building built by the federal government in the 1930s with a large and level playground. I thought that playground would be excellent for softball. Pleasant Valley was built on a Kansas hillside. If a fielder missed a catch, he had to go running after a ball speeding downhill. When serving as the pitcher, I blamed the slope for my errant balls that were generally outside the batter's area, some even went behind the batter. My pitching was so poor we had special rules that didn't count errant balls thrown by the pitcher,
Dad was my pitching coach but pitching to him wasn't much better than pitching at school. We practiced in front of the gasoline station. When he threw me the ball, I was downhill and usually failed to catch it. I had to go running after the ball as it sped downhill toward the stateline. I thought that unfair because when Dad missed a catch the ball never rolled far uphill.
School continued to be held in Oak after both Pleasant Valley and Valley View closed but eventually the Oak school went the way of all Nuckolls County Class I districts. The school closed and the pupils transferred to schools in larger towns.
The Oak school house has survived. The people of the community have found other uses for the building and continue to maintain the property. A portion of the area around the school house became a camping place for recreational vehicles.
At reunion time, the former pupils will be able to walk the grounds, tour the building and recall what it was like to attend school there. But not all are waiting for the reunion.
Paul Buresh is among those who have recalled his days at the Oak School.
One of his stories reminded me of a story my father told about going to the Republican River during the noon hour to swim. In the dead of winter Dad went with friends to where the cooling water from the Ideal Cement Plant had warmed the water and melted a hole in the ice.
Paul was in the eighth grade when he rode his bicycle with friends multiple times from the Oak school to the Little Blue River on a warm day, went for a swim and hurried back to school. It was against the rules but they were never caught.
I remember the year I offered canoe lessons to the Superior High School lifetime sports classes. On the final day of lessons, the class went to the Republican River. Instructions were given on where to get out but several didn't listen and picked what they thought was a better place. In most places the river was shallow and the trick was to find enough water to float the canoes. Preparing to leave the river, the students were surprised to step out into water over their heads. Unlike the Oak pupils, the Superior students couldn't hide where they had been when they reported for their next period class.
One of the girls was participating in a work-study program. I even got an earful from an unhappy employer when her afternoon waitress reported for work soaked in Republican River water.
Paul's funniest story involved their teacher, Beverly Marshall. When the bell rang calling the pupils back to the building after the long lunch hour, they ran inside, leaving the teacher tied to a tree.
The teacher was a good sport about it but she remained tied to the tree until another teacher saw her plight and went to the rescue. At that time the Oak school employed three teachers.
Jean Brennfoerder remembers roller skating on the school house sidewalk and being well acquainted with every bump and crack.
As a youngster I wished I had a place to skate on Blauvelt's Hill but when I wanted to skate I had to take my skates to town. We had sidewalks on the hill but they weren't wide enough to skate on. The only possible place was the pump island drive. I tried skating in an oval around the pumps but the concrete had far too many cracks. Apparently the ground wasn't compacted sufficiently before the drive was poured and the concrete badly cracked Before 25 years has passed, it was all replaced. Dad did a better job the second time. Now 40 years later the second pour is smooth enough I could skate on it but I no longer want to.
The Oak youngsters weren't supposed to run in the basement but they did and some collided with the steel beams. That experience made for "tough Oak kids."
The Oak pupils liked to stand up in the swings and go so high they could see over the top bar. I suspect they were like the Pleasant Valley youngsters and tried to loop over the bar but they probably were not any more successful than we were. I am certain the ground was just as hard as ours was when they fell off the swing.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli
August in Kansas usually brings blistering hot temperatures, drying grass, shrinking ponds, and concerns that fall crops will "make it" because of the lack of moisture. This August has surprised us with regular showers, cooler temperatures and a covering of dew every morning.  
Fall crops look lush and pasture grasses show the possibility of letting cattle graze another month before moving them homeward. Alfalfa and cane grown for cattle feed in the winter will be plenty and ponds should remain full to overflowing.
You never know about the weather in these parts, but it is my choice to live where the seasons change. Of course, spring and fall are my favorite seasons, but winter months with snow and colder temperature make for a time when things on the farm slow down a bit. There are always winter chores and clearing snow, but there is also time to be by the home fire and get caught up on rest, book work and reading. It is also the time when a farmwife thinks her "honey do" list could be addressed.
Spring is a wonderful time to be outdoors and work in the garden, flower beds and fields. Work picks up but it is a renewing time, a time to start fresh. Pasture fences have to be checked before the cattle are moved in, the first cutting of hay is done and wheat harvest preparation is started. There is also necessary thistle spraying or digging to be done late in the spring. Spring calving starts in the early spring. Cattle need to be worked with and checked before they can be moved to pasture. And fall crops are planted.
In the summer, more work is added and days quickly turn into nights as long hours are passed in tractors, combines and trucks. Summer is a rewarding time as the yields of the wheat harvest are realized and a year's hard work is half done. County fairs, rodeos and local celebrations are sometimes worked into the busy schedule. If possible, in between farming duties, a family vacation can sometimes be taken.
Fall arrives and the next year's wheat crop is planted. Cattle are moved to home lots or home pastures and fall harvest is completed. The beauty of fall colors surrounds us. Like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, farm work is geared towards preparing for the winter months ahead. Bales of hay and feed are moved to the winter cattle quarters. Spring born calves are weaned and sold at auction, but for fall calvers the process just begins. Farm machinery is winterized and stored for safe keeping. Though fall hasn't officially arrived yet, Labor Day reminds us it is not far away. Nature also seems to be showing us fall is just around the corner.
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In last week's column, I shared my salsa recipe. It listed two cans of tomato sauce, but it should have been one 12 ounce can of tomato paste and one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.

A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

I've stubbed various of my toes on numerous occasions ­­ in fact, as clumsy as I am sometimes, I suspect I've had more painful toe stubbings that the average person. There's probably a website that would confirm that suspicion, but I'm not inclined to look for it. Nor have I kept track of the number of times I've stubbed a toe throughout the years, which would also be necessary to determine whether I'm a serious toe-stubber or merely a hobbyist.
If I were in charge of such a website, I might call it something simple, like ow!mytoe.com. Or perhaps thecrookedpurpletoe.com for something more flamboyant. But I digress.
In all the times I've rammed a toe against an immovable object ­­ either in my home or someplace else ­­ the effect has never been more than a few hours of discomfort. Last week, however, in a brief skirmish between my right foot and an oak dining room chair, I managed to sustain a broken toe. My middle toe, to be precise. It doesn't seem like an important distinction, except I've discovered there is no way to walk without severe pain. If the broken toe is on either end, it seems like a person could walk with the foot rocked one way or the other and avoid some of the pain. Not in my case.
Several friends with knowledge of such things told me there's nothing medically to be done with a broken toe, which I already knew. They also told me to tape it to the next toe over if I wanted it restored to its proper trajectory when it heals, which I didn't know. That turned out to be moot, though, because by the time I received the information, I had missed my window of opportunity for such a tape job. When I moved the broken toe over to where it would be taped, the pain was excruciating. It appears I'm going to have to live with the toe as it is now. So much for my retirement plans for geriatric foot modeling.