Lyle is seat of memories and forward movement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2000

I think one of Mower County’s greatest treasures is Lyle, the community that dwells a stone’s throw from the Iowa border; a town that proves bigger isn’t always better, especially as far as education is concerned.

Tuesday, May 09, 2000

I think one of Mower County’s greatest treasures is Lyle, the community that dwells a stone’s throw from the Iowa border; a town that proves bigger isn’t always better, especially as far as education is concerned.

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My first experience in Lyle came years ago. When I was young boy I spent time in the summer with my cousin Locke Roberts on their farm south of Austin, not far from Riverbend Campgrounds.

Gog, as he was more commonly known then, was two years older. They farmed a small plot of land.

Here I saw farm animals firsthand and become acquainted with "chores." One event that stands out was the time several of us were bailing hay and suddenly Benny Roberts, Gog’s uncle, went racing through the field shaking his hat like a wild man. It turned out we had disrupted a bee’s nest and soon I was racing another way, trying to get away from the bees.

Gog was kinda lucky and unlucky in this situation. He was stung once – in the eye.

As for me, I was stung about 20 times on my back. Uncle Nate soothed the bites with snuff. A good remedy, something your doctor might not prescribe.

Cleaning out the barn was not a favorite time either, but hauling out manure was all part of a day’s work. I would close the day with a trip to the outhouse before they added indoor plumbing.

Saturday night we were off to London in those first years to watch a movie on a sheet anchored to the side of the hardware store. In later years, when Gog was a young teen-ager, it was off to Lyle for roller skating in the park. There everyone was a good skater and everyone was there. I was the only one there who couldn’t cross one foot over the other to make it around the ends. I’d have to go slow and coast. I was what could have been called a "traffic hazard" for the others who flew by – often skating backward.

If I had any speed at all going into a turn I’d crash into the wall midway through the turn.

They also had the flashlight skate. They would use the flashlight to choose a partner. It was a young "courtship thing" I wasn’t up for yet. I probably would have wrecked the flashlight running into a wall if I had got into it. Being shy didn’t help.

As the years rolled by my friend and I used to make occasional sorties to Lyle to "check out the scenery."

Then in 1980 I started subbing there. That’s when I realized their strong sense of community. It was like "Cheers" where everybody knew everybody’s name. Here all ages got along and the older students modeled for the younger students.

Bob Shaw was teaching science then. He had a little room to operate in but high standards and expectations. His students regularly went to science competitions.

Donna Nordaune and Dave Dahlquist were teaching English and Pat Ray art. I remember Donna was the only English teacher I knew who could explain to me what a "dangling participle" was.

Dave had the following message tacked to the wall that read:

One night in ancient times, three horseman were riding across a desert. As they crossed the dry bed of a river out of the dark a voice called, "Halt."

They obeyed. The voice then told them to dismount, pick up a handful of pebbles, put the pebbles in their pockets and remount.

The voice then said, "You have done as I commanded. Tomorrow at sun-up you will be both glad and sorry." Mystified the horseman rode on.

When the sun rose, they reached into their pockets and found that a miracle had happened. The pebbles had been transformed into diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. They remembered the warning. They were both glad and sorry – glad they had taken some, and sorry they had not taken more…

And this is the story of education.

Last year I subbed there again before coming to the Herald, again subbing for Dave Dahlquist. Once again meeting all the classes and students plus the added joy of working with the Kindergarten students an hour in the morning a few days a week.

Now the principal, Thomas Diebert and Jerry Reshetar, the new Superintendent, announce changes that will be "sweeping and dramatic" for next year which includes block scheduling for grades 9 through 12, a way gaining acceptance throughout the country but not the county – as Austin clings tenaciously to a seven period day.

Hiebert pointed out "The day of standing in front of the class is done. We need to keep students on task. We need to keep them excited about learning."

They also had the where-with-all to talk this over with the towns folk first.

Keep collecting those precious stones.

Bob Vilt’s column appears Tuesdays