To High School in a Sleigh

Sunday afternoon, time for me to head back to college in the late 60s. The weekend was over, back at it. For me at 20 years old I felt that “back to work” anxiety that many of you might feel on Sunday night.
My mom probably felt that same way when she attended Amery High School, but in her case she was 15 years old. During the weekdays of the school year she’d stay with a family in a house on Harriman, across from the current telephone company office. The walk for Mom from this boarding house to the high school would be less than 5 minutes.
Emma Larson, one of 8 siblings living on the Larson farm north of Apple River Park School on E, decided that after 8th grade graduation she’d attend high school. Emma alone in her family did this, spurred on by a love of reading and learning, and anxious to become a teacher. She attended for 4 school years, graduating in 1927 with a class of about 30 students.
When I picture her riding back and forth to her home by sleigh or wagon, I tried to imagine what it was like. On Friday afternoon I could see Grandpa Ole Larson, during the winter months, hitching his workhorses to a sleigh. After noon he’d head south with piles of blankets and a few other necessities to drive to Amery and pick up his daughter.

I can imagine that her weekend at home was one of security and comfort, relaxing a little, cooking with her mother, and helping with the chores. But on Sunday her dad would have to hitch up once more, this time to take her back to start a new week of school. In warmer times he’d use a wagon.
The 10-mile ride to Amery probably went down E, continued south past the Pink Tavern corner, and eventually cross at the Cameron Bridge. Apparently the corner of 46 and that junction was a thriving, busy area. After an hour or more, Grandpa Ole would be on Harriman to drop her off. Not certain if Grandpa Ole stayed for any time in Amery, or if he’d ever have Grandma Julia with him. Shopping a little in downtown Amery? And maybe he’d feed and water the horses before it was time to head north. And Mom would go to her room to study for the week’s classes.
That fall Mom after graduation, she attended the “normal” teacher training school in St. Croix Falls. In 1928 she began her career as a one-room teacher in several Polk County rural schools.
Thanks Arlen Peterson for helping with the details; hope you get better.

This is a column for The Amery Free Press.

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