Norwegian Farmer’s Son…January 31st

January 31st…“WHAT WAS A SPECIAL EVENT IN GRADE SCHOOL THAT YOU REMEMBER FONDLY?”

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My life was “planted” in an ocean, of sorts.  An ocean of the richest farmland this side of anywhere and it was located right smack dab in the center of our Continental United States in the mighty marvelous mowed meadows of Minnesota.  Being in that special location that I was, I had never been to or seen the REAL Pacific Ocean in my young life (that would come later when I reached 13 years old and we moved to the West Coast).   I could only read and hear about the majestic Pacific from books, movies, orrrrrr, enjoy an exciting event that came to our school one day.

#164=Elliott's 3rd Grade class; teacher was Mrs. Mortenson
“Mini Me” is Elliott in 2nd row on the left.  This was my 3rd Grade in a 3rd & 4th combination classroom with kindly Mrs. Mortenson as our teacher.  It was the school year 1963-64 when a Lyceum came to our school and it was a BIG DEAL!

Whenever I saw posters or heard of a Lyceum coming to our school, I was intrigued by our teacher mentioning its approaching date in class or seeing a poster advertising the topic that would be discussed and shared.  Schools in other parts of the nation would have students come together for what’s called “Assemblies”, but our school system used the ancient term of Lyceum.  The word originates from the Latin language and has the meaning of “a popular form of education, with discussions, concerts, displays, etc..”

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The presenters of the ocean Lyceum created colorful chalk drawings that would glow in the dark when the gymnasium lights were darkened and special effect lights employed.

One of the many Lyceums, over my Grade School years, captured me in awe because it colorfully taught us about life on and beneath the ocean.   Stories, slide shows and film told us of the ancient sailing ships that plied those trackless waters.  I vividly remember as our class filed into the gymnasium and, as we climbed into the tiered auditorium seating, I looked down below us and was enthralled by what awaited us!

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After the Lyceum that day, Elliott purchased a “Shell Ship” much like this one and kept it for many years as a momento of that fun event.

Tables and tables of ocean-related “trinkets” were for sale after the Lyceum for those interested in taking home a bit of the sea as a reminder of this day.  Also present were ocean-related paintings and nautical apparatus to teach us about life under the wide waters of the world.  Accompanied by impressive music and lighting effects, stories and information would be shared via slide shows, film and fluorescent colored chalk drawings that artists would create right before our very eyes.  As the ocean artists painted and educated us, gymnasium lighting dropped off one by one until the chalk painter and his masterpiece were illuminated by only a single small spot light as he taught.  He then began using a special colored chalk to create underwater scenes of magnificent colors on his canvas.  As he taught us of the unfathomable depths of the sea, more and more sea creatures appeared on his portrait of a world below the waves.  As a grand finale, the artist would then douse his spot light and turn on various “black lights” to make his final art piece “come alive” with vibrant colors revealed by the magic of “black light”.  Little did I know that day, that visiting the powerful Pacific Ocean would become a reality in just a few years for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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