District 59 eighth grade Class of 1963 gathers
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
The strongest memories of the District 59 eighth grade Class of 1963 were the games they played before school and at recess. All five class members gathered at the one-room school one mile north and one mile west of Bowlus, Nov. 8.
“We played on the back hill, sliding down on tin from the boys’ outhouse,” said Julie Opatz Dzieweczynski. “We’re lucky no one ever got killed.”
“We played hard outside,” said Geraldine Brady. “We were roughnecks.”
“There were two ball diamonds out back,” said Darrell Larsen. “We played ‘stealing sticks,’ ‘dog’ and ‘ante ante over.’”
Fr. David Maciej of Lastrup realized last year that 2013 would mark the class’ 50th anniversary. He contacted the class member who lives the greatest distance away, Rosie Stiller Maas of Seattle, and a date was set when she could be in Bowlus.
The other four classmates still live in Minnesota — Dzieweczynski in West St. Paul, Brady in Apple Valley, Larsen in Royalton and Maciej.
The classmates were very pleased to have their last living teacher with them for the celebratory gathering. Irene Lashinski and her husband, Gene, who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, shared their memories of the 1959-1960 school year that Lashinski taught the group in fifth grade.
“Irene was our favorite teacher,” Larsen said.
“I have many fond memories of her, with a balance between strictness and caring,” said Maciej.
“We combined with another rural school for a trip to Duluth,” Lashinski said. “The students sold garden seeds to pay for the trip.”
Maas recalls making Valentine boxes, and starting every day with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maciej remembers the Christmas plays.
“We memorized our parts and sang on a stage in front — it was exciting,” he said. “Santa Claus came every year. I remember being scared when I was young.”
Brady remembers sitting out in a teacher’s car listening to newscasts that followed John Glenn’s orbit around the earth in February 1962.
The class members reminisced about biking or walking to school in good weather and walking to school even in snowstorms. Some of their parents alternated giving them rides.
Dzieweczynski went on to high school at St. Francis, while the others attended Little Falls Community High School.
Joining them for the evening were three members of the class ahead of them: Jim Czech, Donna Brady Fedor and Ray Maciej.
“It’s hard to imagine spending all of our school years together, and that it’s been 50 years and all five of us are together again,” said Larsen. “It was a good education with a lot of one-on-one and small classes. We listened to the older classes and learned from them.”
“We were all close friends and we got along well; we got along with our teacher,” Brady said. “We took care of each other.”