Mason County News
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Girls on the Peter's Prairie School Bus (Also Fredonia and Katemcy)
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 • Posted May 25, 2014

There were boys on it too but I remember the girls better because, well, they were girls and I only 8 or 9 years old and they teased me. Being an only child, this was about the first time I met the opposite sex en masse. My first reaction was, "They are different, interesting and as I got older, they got very interesting, but there was no contact."

At that time, girls wore skirts, no jeans, pants were looked as evil. Even when I was at Texas Tech from 1950-1954, coeds could not wear pants unless the temperature was 20 degrees or below. Some of the girls (not all) wore skirts that were heavily starched (some of you do not know what that is) and the skirts werre pretty much horizontal to the ground. That presented a particularly interesting situation when a girl bent over to pick something up. I think this was a plan of their mothers to get them married as soon as possible. These girls had a clean, freshly starched dress every day. Their mothers (or somebody) washed (on a rub board), starched and ironed those clothes. They probably made the clothes too. There was no electricity for most of them at that time. These girls were very much alive, they probably milked 2 or 3 cows before they got on the bus. Also, there was no makeup, that was also evil, worn only by "ladies of the night."

One particular incident that I remember shortly after Peter's Prairie got the new International bus, Mason was playing a football game in Ozona. It was decided that the Peter's Prairie bus would go - I don't know how my mother and I got to go, maybe we paid $5, I just remember.

It was a beautiful day, we were in a new bus - we were in "hog heaven." And all of a sudden, somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere, the bus began to overheat and the fan belt had broken. Fortunately, we were able to get it replaced and made it on to Ozona for the game - Mason got beat 6-0. It was a long ride home. I think we got back about midnight. This was a time of gas rationing and I don't know where we got the gasoline to go. It was probably "tractor gas," some of you probably won't know what that is either.

It always seemed to me that the older ones would always want to get to the back of the bus. At that time I did not have much imagination and I did not know what might be going on back there in the back of the bus. Over the years, my imagination has improved and I think I have some pretty good ideas what was going on. A lot of things have changed, but that has not.

Anyway, I am glad you guys put up the marker - the Peter's Prairie School House should not be forgotten - and if you don't do this, it will be forgotten soon - don't let it die.

I have deliberately not mentioned any names -- however, I am going to mention one -- Doris Kasper Grote. She was my first/only babysitter. I will let Doris tell you how old she is, but I will be 81 on June 13.

A lot of what one learns is worthless, but riding the school bus in Mason County was not one of them.

If any of you would like to correspond with me or talk, contact:

Pat Ellebracht

4430 Bauer Farm Dr. #344

Lawrence, KS 66049


p.s. I am pretty sure that I learned more riding that school bus than anywhere else - certainly algebra and chemistry.

I recognize about 11 in the picture. Not long after the picture was taken the high school students from Peter's Prairie started coming to Mason to school.

As they were in the early days of consolidation, they had a new yellow International school bus -- that was during World War II, which anything with wheels was almost impossible to get because of the war. Anyway, we were not in the Peter's Prairie district and we were not in the Mason district, we were in the Behren's district which was very hard to get to (over on the Katemcy Road) from where we lived. So my parents paid for me to ride the Peter's Prairie school bus (probably not more than $3.00 a month). They also paid for me to go to school in Mason.

One of the last teachers they had at Peter's Prairie and they only had the lower grades, was Mrs. Jim (Lee) Brown. Jim Brown had a barbershop on the north side of the square. A haircut was 35 cents to 50 cents. When Mrs. Browntaught at Peter's Prairie she made $75 a month. One of Mrs. Brown's favorite stories was when she was asked why she taught, and she would say, "$75 a month." Then they would say, "No, why do you teach?" And she said, "$75 a month." To say she was a pragmatist is putting it mildly.

When the rest of consolidation took place, Peter's Prairie school was closed. That was when Mason bought us a bigger bus, yellow Ford. I think the first driver was Johnny Ziriax (Donald Ziriax's father). That bus went from Mason up Highway 87 almost to the county line, then across to Katemcy and Fredonia. I think those girls were just as pretty and they did not tease me because they didn't know who I was.

At the time of consolidation, Mrs. Brown moved to teach at the Mason Grammar School -- I had her in 6th grade English class. One thing that Mrs. Brown was strong was diagramming sentences - if you don't believe me, ask Marilyn Mahon. When Marilyn and I get together, after we have talked about everything else, we talk about diagramming sentences in Mrs. Brown's class. Mrs. Brown was an excellent teacher. I doubt that she ever went to college except in the summers when she taught.

This was true with most all teachers in that school. I don't know how far I went in school before I had a teacher with a degree, it was probably 5th or 6th grade.

Then there was Ida Winkel who taught first grade in Mason for at least 100 years. I had her in 1939, she taught at least 50 years before that and 50 years after it. I have always heard that if you did not have Ida Winkel in the first grade you would not amount to anything.

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