3.6.2022 [archived ~ previously published 3.5.2015]
School assignments for middle grade students of yesteryear, just as today encourage creative writing. Not only does a child work on their penmanship, but also on grammar and most importantly imaginative thinking. The latter being something we have as children but tend to lose as we age.
For whatever reason, the 1929 local newspapers covered the writing endeavors of a few students which I will share. The March 15th issue of the Bigfork Times published a story by sixteen-year-old Earl Peloquin, son of Alfred and Hulda. His story How the Fawn Got its Spots was written for an assignment in English class.
“Long, long ago, when the earth was young, Old Mother Nature told all the animals to clean up their babies because she was coming around to vaccinate them for there was an epidemic going around that killed young animals. Now Old Mother Deer was afraid that the vaccination would kill her precious little baby, so she gathered some herbs and mixed them with water, making a very sticky glue.
When the morning inspection for the young animals came, Old Mother Deer dipped many flowers in glue and stuck them on her baby and told him to lie in the grass to hide. So when old Mother Nature came around Mother Deer was weeping bitter tears, or maybe salty ones, whichever deer weep. She said that her baby had died, and she pointed to an ant hill saying, ‘that is his grave.’ So Old Mother Nature, on seeing the grave believed her and went her way.
When she was out of sight, Mother Deer called her young to her and began to pull the flowers from his hide. This caused so much whining and groaning on the little one’s part, that Old Mother Nature, who was by no means deaf, heard and came back to see what the trouble was.
When she saw how Mother Deer had deceived her, she said ‘From now on, at this time of the year, every baby deer will have spots on his hide.’ And from that day every fawn has a spotted coat.”
When school started in the fall, students had to get back in the practice of wearing shoes and using a pencil. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were only three of the many subjects that the school day entailed. Before long, most kids got back into the swing of things.
In particular, the Luko sisters from Deer River were doing well and must have made their Finnish immigrant parents John and Ilona very proud when they both had stories published in the Duluth Herald newspaper during the same month. In October 1929, eleven-year-old Mayme Luko had a story she wrote entitled The Doll Party printed in the Fair Play section of the Duluth Herald. The Deer River News reprinted the story.
“Susan Brown was to give a doll party and Mary Jane and her doll were invited, but her mother would not let her go. So Mary Jane decided to run away to the party. She dresses herself and then her doll and started off to the party. She did not have a very pleasant time at the party. On the way home it started to rain. She stumbled on a stone and broke her doll into a thousand pieces.
She was awakened by her big sister, Polly Ann, who was sprinkling water on her face to wake her up. When she opened her eyes she found her doll lying on the floor which had rolled off the bed during the night. She had planned on running away to the doll party, but she thought she would have the same trouble as she had in her dream so she stayed at home, which was the best thing for her to do.”
The following week, Mayme’s oldest sister Eileen won a literary credit in Fair Play with her story called The Burglar Alarm. Unfortunately this story was not printed in the paper. In fact, after the October issue and through the 1930 papers, I have found no mention of the talents of any young writers. But for the last two weeks of October, a total of four scribes were recognized.
The rival Duluth newspaper, the News-Tribune published a poem written by 13-year-old Geneva Martindale, daughter of Harvey and Eva in the Kiddie Club Corner at the same time Mayme’s story was printed. The Deer River News reprinted the poem.
The June Berry Tree
Have you ever noticed me?
I’m the June berry tree.
The children shout with glee
When they look at the pretty colors on me.
It is autumn, you know,
Everything is all aglow,
One of these days the wind will say,
“You have been pretty many a day.”
So the wind did blow
And then came the snow,
But the June berry tree
Was still happy you see.
A week later, Evelyn Houser, 13-year-old daughter of Sherman and Mary, received honors for two poems published in the Kiddie Club Corner of the Duluth News-Tribune. The poem entitled “Nursery Rhymes” was awarded a first-place prize and her poem “How Charley Minded” received an honorable mention.
I do hope there is time during the school year for students of all ages to indulge their imagination without looking online for inspiration. And I do hope that parents, teachers, grandparents and great-grandparents nurture any inkling in the desire to create in any medium. And of course, it’s never too late for anyone to paint, write, sing, play an instrument, dance or dream!