Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Unknown but not Forgotten

It is possible that I have some old black and white photograph of Union Grade School, but I do not know where it is now. I may find it, but again, I may not. There are many things that I wish I had photographed because they are gone now, and it is the case that they are not so much forgotten now but unknown. They are not unknown to my contemporaries, but unknown now to the young people of Pawhuska. I chose to begin photographing things that I can not, because they are gone, but I can photograph where they were, whether the place is now an empty field, as some are, or a nice residence, as this is. This is the corner of 7th Street and Rogers Avenue, just to the north of the block; at the opposite end is Revard Avenue, and this was where Union Grade School once stood. It was where I began my public education, starting in the first grade with Bobby Hughes, Donna Poulton, Sue Nan Noel, the Mitchell brothers, Roy and Ray, Sarah Bowen, Bobby Cole, Chuck Carnegie and others. From where I shot this photograph, we would be looking at the front of the old building and the east side, though I did not know east from west then. Our first grade class room was up one floor and all the way to the back of the building, on this same east side. Our teacher was Mrs. Sauter, an elderly, white-haired lady, slightly chubby, though I would have never told her that. We were generally six years of age, a great gap between our ages and experience, so, naturally a few of us said she was old, again, something I would have never said to her. I didn't know what old was but she didn't act old to me. She didn't get down and play on the ground with any of us, but she kept a certain pace, and I don't remember her being ill or taking time off. I don't know if teaching first grade was a reward or a punishment for we came to her with a wide array of backgrounds and some of us were barely housebroken. I think about how difficult winter must have been for her as we all needed some help in getting dressed with hats, gloves or mittens, and heavy coats, for our brief recess outside, only to have to help us in reverse when we came in. But I also remember how cold old Union could be and perhaps we remained in our heavy clothing on those bitter cold days. Our lockers were inside of the class room, on the walls that closed us in and the black board was on the west side of the room so that we faced west. The room was always filled with our seasonal art work, our best efforts at making suns, flowers, people, and animals, usually dogs, for all of us had seen dogs up close. Few of us had seen the lions, tigers and elephants that some drew and painted, and finger painting was the most fun of all. She would proudly exhibit our best work and have our parents, or just our mother in many cases, come in and see it. I know that gave some hope that we might actually make it through the entire school system and that our parents had not made a mistake. Mrs. Sauter, like Union, is unknown by many today, but not forgotten by us who knew her then.

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