These stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Look Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
July 9, 2023
With the Roseau County Fair coming up, some of you might remember a little wooden school building that used to be the place for school project exhibits. That school building was from near Roseau, and it was district 27 S in it’s day as an active school in the county. One person who was a student there was Joyce Rugland, now Joyce Morken who lives in California. She shared her memories of that school and this is her story.
When I was in 4th grade, in the fall, my dad bought a farm about 5 miles north of Roseau, so I left the District #11 and started school at #27S. This school, too, had a grandparent’s connection. My Grandfather (Gulbrand) Gilbert Pederson had come from Gol, Norway, with a wife, Guri, and 2 children, Peder and Betsy. He settled on a farm about 3 miles from Roseau, now a “Century Farm”. He had 3 more children-Martin, Oscar, and Anna, my mother. ( Lars Rugland had come from Sigdal, Norway at the age of 10. ) Education was important to these early settlers, so schools and churches were foremost to build. Gilbert helped build this school and served on the board. My mother went to this school. In 1946, the year I graduated from high school, the school was bought by the Roseau County Historical Society and moved to a new location, to be preserved as a historical building.
This school was a larger building and had more students, and my cousins Elder, Marvin, and Luella Pederson. My teacher was the sweetest and prettiest I had ever seen –Gladys Palm. Little did I know that she would become my sister-in-law when she married my brother, Gordon some years later! I met my best friend-to-be Joyce Smebak, the Webers, the Norquists, the Hildahls, and a girl named Vilma Rosen. She would also become my sister-in-law when she married my brother,Earl. later.
Gladys had started teaching in Juneberry, lived with a family, and made about $50 a month. She had some good stories about that experience. The Palms lived a short distance away from the school, so I think her dad made the fire in the school each day so it would be warm. Her dad, Oscar, drove kids to school for some years, and we loved him. He was warm, funny, and never cross. There was always a twinkle in his eye.
My uncle, Oscar Pederson, also drove us. He was a big tease. He was so tall, about 6 ft.9 in. I’d say, and his handlebar mustache made him a character. We called him “highpockets” because his knees came up past the steering wheel when he drove. I guess you could say that he was a typical “Norwegian Batchelor”, since he never married but handed out lots of “advice”!
We played lots of games at recess—one called “Anti-I-Over”, in which there were 2 teams, one on each side of the school. Someone would throw the ball over the roof and the other team would try to catch it, then run quickly around to the other side and touch as many players as possible, making them captives of their team. The bigger kids usually did the throwing, but one day it was my turn, and I threw the ball as hard as I could! Unfortunately, the ball went through the window in a big crash! I was horrified, of course. I think my dad came and fixed the window, but that was the end for me for awhile.
Pom,Pom Pullaway was a popular game that involved partners, so little kids would partner with the older ones. It featured 2 teams in 2 lines with an odd player standing ahead in front, back turned to the group, who would call “Pom Pom Pull Away”! The front player from each line would run and try to join hands while “It” tried to catch one of them.
We had many bigger kids so baseball was very popular in the spring. One time, my cousin, Elder, hit a long ball and was rounding the bases at full speed. He miscalculated at 3rd base and slid into the ditch full of water from the melted snow. Luckily, he lived not far away and went home to change clothes.
Winter was the time to stay in and work on projects, read, or just talk at recess. One thing we did love to do was test each other on finding places on world maps or US maps. It became a game, but we certainly did know our countries, cities, etc. I know we worked on art projects, too. One time we made actual puppets. We carved the heads, arms, and feet from wood. We dressed them and put on the strings to control them. I wonder what happened to the one I made. My nieces probably played with it. But we did have interesting projects along with the lessons.
Next week will be the rest of the story that Joyce shared about her time at country school District 27S.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.