Sunday, August 09, 2015

From Dry Flat to Rabbit Hill and back again

The last time I saw Elizabeth, Louise and Tim Savage was, oh --- maybe 60 years ago when we were all members of the neighborhood N.L. Club (I thought "N.L." stood for Nature Lovers; others think Nature Learners; who knows?). Same for Patricia and Gerald Kelso, who used to be our next-door neighbors, or as next door as it gets in the country, in the county line neighborhood south of Russell. 

But there they all were along with dozens more Saturday at the Dry Flat-Rabbit Hill country school reunion, hosted by Dianne (Vincent) and Harold Mitchell at their farm around two corners and down the road from what remains of the old school, battered by a storm that did its best to knock it flat.

This was the third Dry Flat reunion (earlier versions were held in 1990 and 2010) but the first time veterans of Rabbit Hill, which joined the Dry Flat district to the east just south of the line in Wayne County, had been invited to join in. 

Those are former Dry Flat students at the top --- (first row, from left) Louise (Savage) Schumaker, Doris (Cottrell) Christensen, Carolyn (McVey) Schumann, Joyce (McVey) Schumann, Betty (Gillman) Grismore and Barbara (Sibert) Chase; (second row, from left) Elizabeth (Savage) Abbott, Gerald Kelso, Pat Kelso, Elzan (Vincent) McMurry, Linda (Buttz) Johnson, Dianne (Vincent) Mitchell, Jacob Vincent and Frank Myers. Joyce (Murray) Marsh was there, too, but had left before the photo was taken.

And these are former Rabbit Hill students --- There are a few duplicates. Families moved from farm to farm and into new districts back then, or just decided to send their kids elsewhere. I'll try to identify everyone here, but may get one or two wrong (please correct me if you see this). First row from left, Dale Cottrell (teacher), Louise (Savage) Schumaker, Joyce (Cottrell) Thomas, Bernard Kastner, Melila (Kastner) Law, Barbara (Sibert) Chase and Lorraine (Larson) Forkner; second row (from left), Robert "Bob" Alexander, Linda (Cottrell) Chase, Elizabeth (Savage) Abbott, Lloyd Major, Sarah (Larson) Kitzman, Linda (Larson) Senecaut, Sue (Ellis) Clem and Tim Savage.

Dale Cottrell (center above) was the only teacher present. He not only taught Rabbit Hill during 1946-7, but then married Fern Sellers and moved into the Rabbit Hill neighborhood, where they raised their family and lived until moving into Chariton several years ago. Linda and Joyce Cottrell are his daughters and Doris Cottrell (Dry Flat) his sister. He's flanked here by Bernard Kastner (Rabbit Hill), left, and his brother-in-law, Ron Christensen. They're looking over a photo Bernie brought along of students at their desks in Rabbit Hill during its last year before consolidation. And here's another photo --- this one of Dale (left) as he looked when he was teaching at Rabbit Hill.

Here's Elizabeth (Savage) Abbott (left) with the aforementioned Doris (Cottrell) Christensen, who worked with Dianne to organize this year's reunion, as did Doris's niece, Linda (Cottrell) Chase, working on the Rabbit Hill end of things.

Elizabeth (now of Jacksonville, Arkansas) with her sister, Louise (Savage) Schumaker (left), now of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

And Elizabeth with her brother, Tim Savage, now of Nehawka, Nebraska.

Pat Kelso, now of Des Moines, with Dianne (Vincent) Mitchell in the background.

and Gerald Kelso, a retired veterinarian now living in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Jacob Vincent, now of Texas, served as master of ceremonies.

He's joined here by Barbara (Sibert) and Bob Chase. Barbara and I started primary together at Dry Flat, then she moved into the Rabbit Hill district, I was shipped off to Russell to begin third grade, rural districts were consolidated and Barbara then came into Russell so that we could graduate together, too. The Chases live in Boone.

Here's another photo of Barb with Melila (Kastner) Law, also Rabbit Hill, now of Coffeyville, Kansas. When I started to school at Dry Flat, Bernard's and Melila's maternal grandfather, Hansel Linville, lived just up the road to the north --- and drove a very large, very old car very fast (or so it seemed then) with side curtains flapping. That was only vehicle ever encountered that scared my car-chasing dog, Skippy, into submission. He always took cover when it came down the road.

I didn't do as good a job as I could have in photographing the food available Saturday, but here's the salads table.

And a few general shots of folks just sitting around talking. Those are the Ellis girls to the left on the north side of the table immediately above. Their father, Jerry, who taught in Russell before moving on to Des Moines, was I think most of us would agree one of our all-time favorite teachers. The Ellis family lived just north of Rabbit Hill School.

It was great to see cars parked on Saturday wherever there was a place to park at the Mitchell farm and we all fitted quite nicely into Harold's and Dianne's "shop" building that contains a big gathering room/work room in addition to kitchen and restroom.

And finally, here's Kendra Kastner who --- as the youngest person present --- was an amazing volunteer. She helped older folks carry, helped clean up and armed with the cameras of many of those lined up to have their photos taken, served for a time as chief photographer, too.

Anyone interested in learning more about Dry Flat and its history is welcome to go to Dianne's Dry Flat History blog, which is located here. I swiped this photo taken at the 1990 reunion, of some Dry Flat students with their teacher, Louise Wright, now deceased. And so sadly, are two of the schoolmates pictured here, Linda Allard and Marilyn (Nickell) Gibbs. But of course the rest of us have hardly changed at all. We were (back row from left) Linda Allard, Doris, Barb, Marilyn and Linda Buttz; and (front row) Frank, Jake, Mrs. Wright and Dianne.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank, Great story and pictures of the Rabbit Hill-Dry Flat Reunion. Lorraine (Larson's) married name is Forkner.
Thanks again, Linda C.