Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..August 6th


Fall’s carpet of leaves lent a pungent, pleasurable perfume that permeated my puny pug nose as my little First Grade boy energies happily ejected my body from Marie Meyer’s school bus!!

Like Moses and the Red Sea, these colorful, cumulonimbus clouds of deciduous leaves “parted” as, at top speed, I plowed through them and headed straight for the front door of my Grade School building on the campus of Kiester Public School District #222.

Elliott is front row, far left, in 1st Grade along with all the other “pretty pulpy paper people” that were created for the big Open House for parents in 1960-61 at Kiester School in Kiester, Minnesota.

Even though I was only “knee high to a grasshopper”, I felt like one of the big kids now, since I no longer took the basement stairs down to Mrs. Wigern’s Kindergarten half-day class anymore. And, as one older than Kindergarten now,…. me, myself and I got to grab ahold of the brass handle of the multi-paned glass windowed door of the front entrance of this fine edifice of education that was built in 1924.

Needless to say, I was one ebullient Elliott as my midget arms strained at the back pressure of the closure mechanism of that massive door till it finally opened and allowed me to zip on down that classic old school entry and hang a careening righthand turn into Mrs. Wiehr’s grandiose First Grade classroom. I use that sweeping word of description because, to a runt like me, everything was magnificus giganticus in that I saw what seemed like fifteen foot high ceilings with the parabolic-shaped, cream colored light fixtures that hung, in their amber glow, from the ceiling. And, ohhhh those “glass castle” windows had me in awe with tall, multi-paned sections of glass that let in all that marvelous Minnesota daylight.

Dear Mrs. Loretta Wiehr. πŸ˜‰

Even a little rug-rat like me could discern a lovely lady with an even lovelier heart and that’s just what I thought of my most wunnerful First Grade teacher, Mrs. Loretta Wiehr!!

“Boys and girls”, said dear Mrs. Wiehr, “Now that we’ve been in school for a while during your First Grade year, we’d now like to invite your parents to come visit our classroom for something that’s called an Open House”. Mrs. Wiehr continued, “This will happen in the near future on a special night time event after your farm families have completed milking cows and done evening chores”. Ohhh myyy, I was just like the Walt Disney cartoon elephant character, “Dumbo”, cause I was “all ears” with everything that came out of the mouth of my beautiful teacher that I had been blessed with for my first year of formal education!!! πŸ˜‰

Out from Mrs. Wiehr’s storage closet came this immensely large roll of what I guess was some sort of butcher paper. In turn, each of us little First Graders would lay down on the paper, looking at the ceiling and Mrs. Wiehr, while fellow students began tracing around the outlines of our bodies. It sure was ticklish fun for this farmer’s son as a team of tiny tikes cruised my body outlines with their crayons while I giggled profusely!!! Eventually, I was informed that a “new me” lay below where I had been on the floor.

For the next segment of this midget artistic endeavor, we took these full size facsimilies of ourselves back to our student desk and began coloring in, to the best of our minuscule talents, our face, clothes, shoes, etc. onto that pulpy paper person of us. Lastly, out came our scissors as we became “surgeons”, so to speak, and cut our new self away from all that extraneous whiteness that had kept our new potentially pretty paper person from looking more “human”.

With colored wax sticks ablazing, from our over-sized box of 8 Crayola crayons, we little ones created a whole entire extra classroom of US!!! πŸ˜‰ All that was left now was to clean our students desks, organize our little First Grade textbooks and last, but definitely not least, take yardsticks (as backbones) and tape US to our individual student chairs.

Elliott, and sister, Candice, in the era of the Open House at his 1st Grade Classroom.

There is a whole new aura of childhood perception and reality when it came to returning that evening with my little sister, Candice, and my parents to the same First Grade classroom I had left just hours earlier that afternoon. My normal daylight world of elementary education had transpired in daylight hours, so that was my comfortable paradigm. But here, at night, everything around me was amplified by the nighttime in its height, color and overall WOW factor! With my hand in Dad’s and Candi’s hand in Mom’s we entered the enormity of that classroom where daylight had flooded earlier and now the darkness just outside those classroom windows brought out all the colored richness of those wooden frames.

Elliott’s parent’s, Russell and Clarice Noorlun.

Of course there were cookies and Koolaid to celebrate our welcoming of moms and dads to this little child gala event.

Sweet Mom and Dad were dressed “to the nines” that night with Dad in his suit and Mom in a delightful dress. Next, on the evening agenda, it was my turn to be the little host in taking them down the row of our classroom and point out the “Paper Person of ME” sitting at my desk. It was all such a fun and impressive moment of elementary education for this little Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!

Elliott joyfully reunites here with his beloved First Grade teacher, Loretta Wiehr, around 2005 at the Farming of Yesteryear Threshing Festival east of his childhood hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. Mrs. Wiehr is alive and well, as of September 2021, and lives in Livingston, Texas. Elliott writes her a letter of love and appreciation each week, including sending her some of his blog’s stories. πŸ˜‰


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