Tuesday, May 27, 2008

End of School Year Picnic

A picnic marked the end of the school year for my one-room country school in Waushara County, Wisconsin. People brought their own sandwiches and eating utensils, plus a dish to pass. The school board placed planks on sawhorses in the shade of the school yard's giant oaks. They also bought ice cream for dessert. The ice cream, in two and one/half gallon tubs came in an insulated canvas covered case that slowed the melting.

All the parents and students came and ate and ate and sat under the great oaks and talked--until it was time for the annual softball game. The students played their fathers. Everyone not playing watched and cheered--for the students of course. And the students usually won, too.

Years later, a one-time student at a county school told me this was the only time she ever saw her father play. She saw her dad, a farmer, working all the time--except on the day of the end of school year picnic and softball game.

The Old Timer Says: "We gain respect by earning it."

Coming Events:

Book Signing, Walden Bookstore, West Town Madison, Saturday, June 7, 1-3 p.m.

Monday, May 19, 2008


The lilacs are blooming in my part of the world. Sweet smelling. Long living. A part of rural homesteads--and urban life as well.

Travel through the countryside today and you'll spot lilac bushes, often in unusual places such as alongside a road with nothing else in sight. No buildings, no sign of habitation. More likely than not when you see these lonely lilacs you have located the site of an old farmhouse, now long gone. Historical markers these flowering shrubs.

Their smell brings back memories of my country school where a row of them lined the southern fence of the acre schoolyard. When the lilacs bloomed we knew the school year was about to end and summer vacation was in sight. For several days our country school teacher stuffed the purple flowers in a vase that sat at the side of her desk and the winter smells inside the cramped building turned to smells of spring.

The Old Timer says: "Appreciate what you've got."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May Baskets

Remember May baskets? When I was growing up and attending a one-room country school, we made May baskets out of what was called construction paper(a heavy paper that came in several colors). The little paper baskets included a handle and enough room to stuff in a handful of wildflowers--violets mostly.

In the dead of night, we would walk from farm to farm, hang a little basket on the farmhouse doorknob, yell "May basket" and run. The idea was for the kids inside to chase us and catch us and then join us to walk to the next farm and repeat the process.

Problem was the farms were a half-mile apart and more. After two or three farms visited, it was time to return to our homes. We'd repeat the game several times during the month of May.

Anyone have a May basket story?

The Old Timer says: "Those who are given much are expected to give back much in return."

Upcoming Appearances:

Coloma Historical Society, Community Building, 7:00 p.m. May 12
Minoqua Public Library, 7:00 p.m. May 13
Marshfield Public Library, 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. May 15
Westby, Dregne's, 10-2:00 p.m. May 17
New Glarus Historical Society, 1-4:00 p.m. May 18

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Happy Birthday WRWA

I attended the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association spring meeting in LaCrosse this past weekend. They are celebrating their 60th year of supporting, encouraging, and recognizing Wisconsin writers. Robert Gard,long time University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, started the organization in 1948.

If you are interested in writing and Wisconsin writers, check their website: www.wrwa.net

The Old Timer Says: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Upcoming appearances:

Burlington, WI Library, May 8,7:00 p.m.
Coloma, WI Historical Society, May 12, 7:00 p.m.
Minoqua, WI Library, May 13, 6:30 p.m.
Marshfield, WI Library, May 15, 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Westby, WI Dregne's, May 17, 10-2:00 p.m.
New Glarus, Wi Historical Society, May 18, 1-4:00 p.m.