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Susan's Memories

Susan (Davis) Hanson graduated in 1963. I'm sure you'll enjoy the memories she has written about her life in Spring Valley.

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Susan had just read Dean Blegen's Memories: Susan (Davis) Hanson here - class of 1963. I just had the most enjoyable trip down Memory Lane! I hadn't checked the Spring Valley High School website for a while, and when I did there was your (Dean's) writings.
   You jogged quite a few things loose from my memory bank - things I hadn't thought about in decades. Being a girl in a family of girls, nerdy and probably smug and snotty to boot, I had no idea of the "guy stuff" going on in town. I learned a lot!
   I think the books we learned to read from featured Tom, Betty and Susan (my name, hence the memory). Their dog was named Flip. Jane Leach's family got a new dog (Boston terrier, I think) and Jane named him Flip. Chuck Madson had a new dog about this same time, a black cocker spaniel named Mamie. I never once connected the dog's name with that of the First Lady of the Land at that time - Mamie Eisenhower. Interestingly enough, I now have a dog of my own named Mamie.
   In addition to "Let's Write" there was also a program called "Let's Draw" on radio station WHWC.
   I hadn't thought about Barbell in ages. Interesting that you remember her mother as looking angry all the time. One memory of mine: I watched Barbell and her mother walking south on Main St. (probably on their way home to the small trailer I also remember) and the mother was yelling and scolding Barbell, in German of course, and all the time shaking her finger in Barbell's face. I was glad my mother didn't do that to me! My other vivid memory is that Barbell had pierced ears and wore earrings all the time - something the rest of us girls had to wait years for. She may have been the first person I knew with pierced ears.
   If you looked up "strict teacher" in the dictionary, you'd find Mrs. Van De List's picture. Her 3rd grade classroom was the scene of my first public humiliation, and I remember it like yesterday! We were studying cloth and fabric in our social studies book. It was the beginning of the unit and the colored picture to introduce it was "window panes" with small pictures of sheep (wool), worms (silk), cotton plants (cotton), etc. She called on me to identify a pretty pink flower. I had no idea what it was, so I ventured a guess that it was a petunia. Mrs. Van De List exploded - "Petunias!!", Petunias!!". " What kind of cloth can you make out of petunias!!!???" The plant was flax (linen), but how in the heck would a 3rd grader know what a flax plant looked like??
   4th Grade: Miss Guiser used the expression "Stop beefing about it" or "Quit your beefing." I'd never heard that before. I well remember the chocolate goiter/iodine tablets. They came in a round box like oatmeal comes in, and there was a string around the top that, once pulled, opened the lid. Naughty kids (probably boys!) used to sneak in the supply cabinet and eat handfuls. We referred to them as "Weekly Reader pills" because they were dispensed at the same time as our "Weekly Readers." (Probably a good way for the teacher to remember to give them to us on a weekly basis.)
   I remember Dr Fast's Egyptian pictures under the glass on his desk. Do you also remember the ash tray on the small table in the reception area? It was a silver (probably stainless steel) model of an open jaw lying flat showing all of the teeth in the upper and lower jaws. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned every other dentist in the world used novocaine for fillings. When I went for my next appointment, I announced that I'd like novocaine, please, when he filled my teeth. He told me in no uncertain terms he was against injecting chemicals, etc. into people's systems and healthy people like me could tolerate his (lengthy) drilling without it. He made me feel like a wimp, and that may have been the last time I endured the torture ("five more seconds ..... one more second ... a half a second ... a fourth of a second ...)
   Mr. Schultz left at the end of my 5th grade, so I did not have him for a teacher. His son Danny was in our grade, however. It was about this time (1955-56) when Crest toothpaste was introduced. Everyone in town got a small sample tube in their mailboxes and we kids at recess were actually excited about this - what it tasted like, etc. About the same time Brisk toothpaste was introduced, and everyone got samples in the mail again. I've never heard about Brisk toothpaste again.
   Ed Gein - This was quite hush-hush conversation at our house, but we kids sort of knew what it was about. I remember opening our refrigerator and finding a jar of red pimentos inside (a new recipe my mother was making) and being horrified! And the jokes - "What does Ed Gein keep in his cookie jar?" "Lady fingers"
   Spengler Murder - We had a substitute teacher the Monday after the murder. Right at the beginning of the day, this teacher said something like "I know you'll be hearing things today, so I want you to know what happened. Tommy will not be in school. Last night his mother shot his father." Unbelievable!! At lunch that day, all of the Spengler kids were marched into the lschool lunch room possiby by a Red Cross worker. They all had on new (used?) clothing and ate lunch (a decent meal?) before they left and we never saw them again. I remember the headline that night in the ST. PAUL DISPATCH - "Mom of Nine Kills Mate." I think she had another baby while incarcerated. Tommy was a really nice boy. And why do I remember that canned plums were on the menu that day????????
This is getting very lengthy, but do you remember these?

Red Cross boxes. We were only a few years out from WW II and all kinds of aid was going to Europe. Each class was issued a Red Cross box about the size of a carton of cigarettes. It was flat and tabs had to be put together to make it box-shaped. We were encouraged to contribute items like soap, washcloths (which had to be "NEW"), pencils, small tablets, etc. I think our class was quite generous and we filled more than one. As for the "new" washcloth, I remember a brand of toilet paper at Joe Langer's store called "Sail." A new washcloth was included in each four-pack. It was behind the cut-out sail on the wrapper, so you could choose the color you wanted. I don't think the washcloths had a very high thread count! That's how I got a washcloth to donate.

March of Dimes cards: These were postcard sized with perforations to hold six dimes. There was a different "theme/picture" on the card each year. I remember one with three kids riding their bicyces. The dimes were inserted into the wheels of the bikes. Another time it was a circus theme, and I think the dimes went into the balls balanced on six seals' noses. Sixty cents per card per child was quite a sacrifice for most families, and I don't we ever got more than two to put into our cards.

Mrs. Matt Hanson: Mrs. Hanson substituted a lot when I was in second grade. She was a nice grandmotherly type with soft gray hair pulled back into a bun. This is an indelible memory from that year: Mrs. Hanson announced, "Boys and girls. Some people think that phonics is old-fashioned. Well, I'm old-fashioned and we are going to learn phonics." She banged her fist on her desk to emphasize every syllable in the underlined statement!

Displaced Persons (DP's) - In addition to Barbell, I have faint memories of a girl named Eva who was here briefly either in my class or a year older. I think she had older brothers, and my mother was horrified they wore heavy wool trousers in the hot summertime. (Probably the only clothes they owned.) They were German and Eva was cute, had dark curly hair and gold earrings in her pierced ears. A Swiss family named Moser went to our church. There was a mother and two daughters - Elizabeth and Martha. I don't know if there was a father in the family or not. Elizabeth had a beautiful singing voice. Lawrence and Mina Bahr sponsored other DP's, but I don't know who they were. FYI: It was at a program at our church that I learned that Norwegians came from Norway thanks to Martha Moser's role in a play the Sunday School was performing. I'd heard the term "Norwegian" all of my short life, but it took a Swiss to connect the dots for me!

You've (Dean) opened a Pandora's box!! I hope I haven't bored you silly, and thanks again for the time you took to write your very interesting memories.

Susan Davis Hanson, Class of '63


My mother nicknamed two of the "thoroughfares" in Spring Valley. The winding road below our house going by Ray Gunvalson' houses was called "the goat path." We took the goat path to school. Glade Ave. going north and sloping down to Blegens was "the mountain road." Wenums lived next door to us, and there was a lot of traffic on the mountain road because the Blegen boys were friends with the Wenum boys. I even remember Blegen's dog Lucky - a yellow lab(?) with some mystery parentage mixed in(?).
Remember Lunch Bars at Al Zimmer's Red & White Grocery? They were the "poor man's" version of the Hershey bar and had a dark green wrapper with white lettering. They cost 3 cents as opposed to the 5-cent Hershey bars, were just a tad smaller, and had peanut pieces in the chocolate. How about all the penny candy? Sweet, sugary syrup in tiny wax bottles, black jacks (white, pink and black, licorice-flavored, taffy-like squares), and all the wax goodies at Hallowe'en - black moustaches, big red lips, pipes, and a mouth organ (shaped like Pan pipes) that actually played notes. They softened up and we could chew the wax like gum.
No one had "ear infections" in those days, but a lot of us had "ear aches." The cure at school I remember (until a parent retrieved an ailing child) was to put a wool mitten on the radiator, and when it was warm enough the child put it on his ear to make it feel better. I remember my mother coming home from a church meeting half aghast and half prostrate with laughter at a "cure" another lady told her. "Just fry an onion in butter and run it down their ears." The heat-and-oil element was probaby valid, but the method of applying it was not!
The Davis girls were not permitted to have allergies or illnesses. Measles (we got to wear sunglasses inside), chicken pox and mumps coudn't be avoided, but if our temperatures were under 103 and we weren't vomiting, we were pronounced good to go. When I was in 7th grade (1957), the Asiatic flu made its rounds. I think this may have been the first time a strain of flu had a name. There were so many kids missing school that it was closed for a week. My sister Jane (1965) and I couldn't believe our luck having a week off, started home and were struck (hard!) with it at the bottom of the "goat path." It was agony climbing the hill home, and we were out of commission the entire week. Today if I get a sneezing jag, I tell everyone it's just some allergy I'm not allowed to have.
Was it about 1956 when the Salk polio vaccine was perfected? We may have had some shots at school, but in order to be completely immunized we had to endure a series of three. The first two were a month apart and the third was six months later.
Did a man named Hammond hang himself in his garage in the mid-1950's?
We had all-school picnics at the end of the year, and why was the orange drink in the glass bottles from the Spring Valley Dairy called "Green Spot"?
Did Miss Crowley always take the 8th graders to Carson Park in Eau Claire for a class picnic? One highlight of this trip was seeing beautiful downtown Eau Claire and riding the escalator in Woolworth's. I wasn't impressed. I'd been to Dayton's a few times in St. Paul and had ridden both escalators and elevators. How worldly I was!! (NOT!)
There were all-school Christmas pageants. In kindergarten (1950) the girls were dolls ("Tell your mothers to get out your old baby bonnets.") with pretend wind-up keys on our backs. 1st grade - the girls were candy canes. Joe Langer ordered a bolt of red and white striped material which our mothers made into dresses and tam-o-shanters with big red pompoms on top. In those days a dress was a dress, and for the rest of the school year, at least once a week, more than one girl showed up at school wearing the same peppermint-striped dress. 2nd grade - the girls were snowflakes and got to wear long white dresses.
When I was in 7th grade (1957-58), the movie "Peyton Place" came out. I remember my mother going to see it with some of her church lady friends. Her comment afterward to Jane and me was, "It was a very good movie, but it was too old for you." In later years I've wondered what others at the theater thought about the pillars of the Congregational Church seeing the sexiest movie ever.
Bert Safe's cafe (Burt and Lu's) featured hot beef sandwiches and the potatoes were riced - not mashed.
Tory Armstrong always gave us a hot dog when my mother bought meat from him. A whole, cold hot dog - what a treat.
There were band concerts on summer Friday nights in front of the Ford garage. Participating band members got a ticket for a free ice cream cone afterward.
We had "rhythm bands" in elementary school. Once the boring rhythm sticks ran out, the cool triangles and "the bones" were distributed. Everyone tried to get in the back of the line to get the really good instruments.
Our class was so small for so many years (about 14 students until 7th or 8th grade) that we had the same dinky classroom from grades 1 through 6. Mid-6th grade we moved into a BIG room in the new north addition. We always felt gypped, because all the other classes got a new classroom every year. Facing the old school building, this classroom was the furthest north on the lowest floor. Since then the wall between the small room and the room next to it has been removed. The combined rooms still look incredibly tiny to me. At least the teachers got to change locales. The class after ours was at least twice as big, and they were charter members of the Baby Boom after WW II.
April or May, 1951 - Congregational Church fire - again a vivid memory. I was not quite 6 and nearing the end of kindergarten. An older sister was babysitting, and we had Franco-American spaghetti for lunch. The siren went off, and we learned it was our church. We went down the hill to watch, and I sat on the concrete steps by Ary Arneson's house. We saw our neighbor and volunteer fireman Gunny on a ladder and learned later he had been hurt fighting the fire. I was sent off to school after watching for a while. My mother told me years later that the church ladies had been summoned to carry out as many things as they could from the church basement - while the fire was burning above them!!!! I remember going "to church" at the movie theater at least once until we could get back into the church. After what had to have been a really bad day - our church being burned, saving things from the burning building, our neighbor injured, etc. - the worst thing of all, and appalling to my mother, was that no one washed my face after lunch, and I went to kindergarten with Franco-American spaghetti sauce all over my face.