One and two-room schoolhouses.

They used to be everywhere, and I don't mean you had to go back to the 'Little House On The Prairie' days to see them.

I remember when I worked in Winner South Dakota back in the 1970s, there were small white schoolhouses out in the country, out in what some people would sarcastically call 'the middle of nowhere.' There would generally be one vehicle parked next to the school, the teacher's car, and an American Flag flying proudly on that tall pole beside the school. The playground was empty, except if you were lucky enough to drive past over the lunch hour or maybe during a recess.

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I went to one of those schools. No, it wasn't white and it wasn't out there, far off in the country. No, it was in town...the town being about 300 people or so, small and friendly, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone.

Leota, Minnesota.

When my older brother by five years went there were eight grades. By the time I went the grades were down to six and it wasn't long after I left that the grades went down Zip. Yep, the school is gone for many years now. Well, not really gone I guess, the building is still there and it still serves a purpose.

About six kids or so per grade back then, first, second and third grade in one room, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the other.

Recess meant a rousing game of softball, whether we had enough players or not (there were always ways to improvise). Or maybe it was 'Red Rover, Red Rover' and hope that the other team didn't have the biggest kid to bust through our line! One day a week was 'Bake Day' when we could bring a homemade pot pie or goulash or maybe a potato for the oven downstairs. Otherwise, we'd bring our Roy Rogers or Jetsons or Lassie metal lunch box with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a cookie, and maybe a thermos of chicken soup.

I always smile a little when parents talk about their kids getting to see their friends again after a long summer break. We saw our friends all the time anyway, school or not. We all lived together in this small town, or in this small farming area. All our parents were neighbors, were friends.

But that first day of school was (and is) special, and it doesn't matter if you go to the biggest school in the state or....a little two-roomer.

If there are any of those two roommates left.

So think back, back, many kids were in that first-grade class that first day of school when you were only just about this tall?

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

Here Are The 7 Remaining Drive-In Theaters In South Dakota

If you were born last know, in the nineteen hundreds (ugh) may have spent a summer evening in the car watching movies. I don't mean on your phone, I mean at the drive-in movie theater!

If you were in Sioux Falls in the 1970s and '80's you may remember seeing Jaws and Indiana Jones at The East Park or the Starlite Drive-In. Both drive-ins opened just after World War 2. The East Park didn't make it out of the '70s, closing in 1978. The Starlite survived long enough to see the birth of home video, closing in 1985.

Drive-in movies had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic. They were a way to go out and do something social without getting out of your car.

If you tried one during that time, or you remember the fun of a warm summer evening watching movies on that giant screen there are still places in South Dakota and around Sioux Falls you can do it.

The Ultimate Sioux Falls Visitor's Guide: A to Z




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