Little, red-brick, two-room, school-house, K thru 8, housing 70 kids in all;
Held a proud tradition of raising future valedictorians in near-by high school.
Formidably nestled in a rural Iowa community, adjacent to its namesake church,
It was created by 1st generation German immigrants so fearful, faithful and enduring,
Bent on protecting their progeny from perceived threats of the secular world,
While instilling threatening biblical - Lutheran version - interpretations most strict.
Two teachers, nine grades, desks all orderly positioned in rows,
Space and structure for grade-level as well as collective teaching,
Hymn sings and biblical recitations held daily routines.
Mastering the 3-R’s, and little more, dominated a curriculum quite Spartan.
Questioning of linear, authoritarian thinking was scorned upon,
Making blind obedience or overt rebellion predictable outcomes.
Ample time for pre-school, recess and lunch-time self-organized play,
Necessitated resourcefulness in supplying sporting equipment so sparse.
With adult supervision and medical resources an unneeded requirement,
Broken bones, contusions and concussions were handled with home remedies.
Annual ‘field days’ allowed competitive interplay with other Lutheran schools,
While exposing naïve students to a broader playing field of life.
Scampering home for lunch, while others ate from home-packed pails,
Our parental directives held home-prepared servings the better fare.
Mother served large helpings of home-raised vittles to her growing boys.
Winter-time offerings of whole cherry pies, fresh from the oven, were special.
Then scurrying back to school so as not to miss out on lunch-time play,
We siblings competed to get there first, on a near-by, quarter-mile roadway.
Rich and eventful tho the school years at St. Peters may have been on the surface,
Internal stirrings were left to fester without the awareness of adult authorities.
Entering a less sheltered arena in high school and beyond, required skills yet to develop,
As hell-fire and brimstone themes discombobulated psyches of children so vulnerable.
Corporal punishments had their own harsh reminders of the consequences of ‘sin,’
Leaving residual emotional material to process later, when detachment was developed.
Confirmation marked a solemn rite of passage into a more mature stage,
In preparation for greater responsibilities and impending teen years.
Recitations from Catechism became un-challenged dogma, effortlessly embraced.
Acknowledgments and money added special meaning to a process quite refined,
Authorization came to partake in ritual of drinking wine from the communal cup.
Central to the rite was purchase of a first dress suit, navy blue, with white shirt and tie!
Graduation held equally solemn markings, with harsh reminders to stay the course.
The message was clear….follow the straight and narrow path of life, or else,
While holding steadfast to underpinnings of Lutheranism, Missouri Synod type.
Anxiety surfaced about facing the high school years so far from the protective nest,
In anticipation of encountering others vastly different than Lutherans!
Furthermore, the coming of age offered membership on an adult softball team!