This article follows “Part 1: Sweethearts Since School.” Both are part of a larger series that developed from an interview conducted December 2015 with four community and museum members: Ron Euteneier, Grant Fahlman, and Reinhold and Hilda Euteneier.
“My first year of school was in the fall of 1954,” says Grant. “And I recall Ron and his twin brother, Don, came to school in a motored vehicle at that time.”
“Yeah, we started out with horses and a sleigh, and then walking, and then we got pretty fancy!” replied Ron.
Others – like Hilda, who was then still a Leippi – weren’t so fancy.
“I had a pony, his name was Gerry, and he did exactly what he wanted to! When I was going to Old Kronau School, he knew exactly where to go, so that was his routine. Well then in ’45, when we decided on coming up here, he had to come as far as his bridge, then he had to turn to come to Kronau – well, he wouldn’t do it. So, Dad walked every morning up to that bridge and turned him and got him started and then he would go,” sighs Hilda. “He backed me down the ditch one time by Bob Bruce’s place. I don’t know how I got out of there.”
At the time, Hilda would have been about eight years old.
Each of the four sitting with me went to school at Saar, although some were later than others. Built in 1926, the community schoolhouse offered classes up to grade 10, after which students would have to work by correspondence if they wanted to continue their education.
For the moment, Grant Fahlman, Hilda and Reinhold Eutenier, and Ron Euteneier are distracted by their memories. Like most of the interviews done for the oral history project, we sit in the basement of Kronau Museum. The four may be physically present at the museum with me, but their minds are occupied with events that happened sixty years ago.
“He was a smoker,” complained Grant. “He had grade 6 to 10 and everybody came in at nine o’clock, and he’d say your assignments for grade six and this and this and this – you all got something to do – and he’d sit back down at his table, at his desk, and light a smoke!”
“Right in the classroom?” wonders Hilda Euteneier and Grant nods his reply.
This isn’t Grant’s only memory of the teacher he disliked most at Saar School, but it’s one of the more pleasant.
“He terrorized us. He had a big booming voice. If the kids were bad, you could hear every word (he yelled) at them,” said Grant. His father sat on the school board so Grant was one of the first to learn about the teacher’s future resignation. “I was very happy inside.”
Grant is the youngest out of the four, but those few years of difference hardly make a dent on the decades this gang has spent together. They went to the same school, attended the same community events, worked the fields next to each other – maybe even chased the same girls (although it sounds like Reinhold had a lock on Hilda pretty early).
“Ever hear of pie socials?” asks Reinhold. The four friends go on to explain that these were annual fundraisers for the school to which women brought picnic lunches and the men would bid on the lunches (and accompanying women).
“This young girl come and her mother, and she looked pretty good to me,” recalls Reinhold. “(I was) about 16, I guess, maybe 17. I tried to buys hers, and I did!”
His victory was short lived, however. “They had traded, so I got the mother! I got hooked on that one!”
“I was always afraid to do them because I didn’t know who was going to buy it. Usually I got some old man or something and I was kind of embarrassed,” said Hilda.
Indeed, some of their most memorable moments together took place on a field – only they had been running bases at the time, not a tractor.
“I remember in ’49, Dad had bought that half-tonne truck, and (the team) wanted to go to Lajord. I didn’t have my license,” Reinhold remembers. Someone asked: “‘Who can drive, who’s got a truck?’ Of course I put up my hand,” he shrugs and the table erupts in laughter.
“(I) went and told Dad, and well he wasn’t too excited about it, but the whole ball team and the teacher went to Lajord on the highway – and I drove.”
Ron claims that Kronau had one of the better ball teams – of course he could just be saying that about the time that he played as either first or center. Reinhold held first base and pitched, and Grant, when he would play a few years after them, would pitch or play first and second base.
“We thought we were pretty hot,” admits Grant. In fact, his team was so confident that they decided to challenge a neighbouring town one year. “‘Why don’t we play Newton?!’”
Their coach had been hesitant, knowing that the Newton boys were good ball players. She tried to tell them so, but Grant and his teammates weren’t to be discouraged.
‘Ah, bring them on!’” they had cried. Today, Grant just shakes his head. “They cleaned out our clocks real good.”
Grant’s coach had been right. “They were at third base by the time you got the ball (from) way out there. Oh, they could hit,” remembers Grant. But winners or losers, the team would often stop at a swimming pool on their home from the tournaments.
“Gee,” exclaims Reinhold, “you guys had it made.”
“Boy, what happened after we quit?” wonders Ron.
As the four discuss their years at Saar, the conversation slowly begins to evolve around that very question: what happened? The longer the friends talk, the more they find that things are more different than they had originally realized – and it’s not just the technology that’s new.
“This building here,” says Reinhold, referring to the museum which used to be the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, “used to be about three miles the way the crow flies east here and course there was no power or nothing out there either. When we got Christmas time there, they had candles, lit candles on the tree.”
“During the whole service!” Hilda jumps in.
Ron remembers too. “That sure smelled good in there!”
“It was a different lifestyle altogether,” says Reinhold. I sense disappointment with the changes they’ve seen. When I ask them about it, they’re more than willing to tell me…
TO BE CONTINUED…