by Amy Doeun
Since 2007, the Rush City Class of 1957 has been meeting every year during the city’s Music and Art Festival, held the third week in August.
“We had 45 graduate in our class, 12 of these have passed away,” Helen (Grote) Anderson said.
Anderson works to keep her remaining classmates informed about the current happenings with both class members and Rush City in general. She has included students who would have but did not graduate with them in the list.
Anderson and Yvonne (West) Lind, another member of the class, shared a little bit about what school and Rush City was like in the 1950s.
“The majority of us that grew up on farms — we had ice delivered for our ice box refrigerator,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have indoor plumbing; we had an outhouse. I was 20 years old before we had a plumbed bathroom. We didn’t have washers or dryers. We had a wringer washing machine and hung clothes outside on a clothes line, even in the wintertime. Our kitchen stove was heated with wood.”
Anderson continued her walk down memory lane.
“We heated water on the cook stove and took bath once a week in laundry tub. I can remember in later years an uncle that had little money remodeled his bathroom and gave us his old clawfoot bathtub. We put it in a back room and carried water, so we could take a bath in that.”
For Lind, school started at the District 24 Country school. This was a one-room school house.
“Unfortunately, the building was taken down — that is kind of disappointing,” Lind said. The current municipal building next to the swimming pool was the high school back in those days.
“It was very close to downtown area, about a block, and we would run downtown to the bakery during lunch breaks,” Lind said.
This is something both Anderson and Lind remember—that if you didn’t want to eat in the cafeteria you could always just go downtown to eat.
Anderson was supposed to attend country school, the Rohlf Country School.
“But my parents paid for me to ride the school bus for the first 6 years,” she said. “We were way at the end of the line and would have had to walk.”
By seventh grade, “they all came to the high school,” Anderson remembered. She said it was a “very friendly place, still is.”
There were not as many sports or extracurricular activities as there are now.
“We had to make our own fun,” Anderson said. “The 4-H was popular then. We raised animals, poultry, sewed, cooked, etc. to the (Chisago) County Fair. I know they still do it, but not like we did in the old days. Our 4-H Club had parties for all the holidays, basket socials, skiing parties. In later years, the Moulton Roller Rink was built, so many Friday or Saturday nights our parents would drive us to town. The Roller Rink also had parties for all the holidays, where we would dress up for the occasion. Once a year after our prom, they would have a formal skate party, where we wore our prom dresses skating.”
There was also a movie theater in town. Both buildings are still standing.
“You look back now, and you wish you had some of the sports that we have now,” Lind said. There was band, choir or maybe cheerleading. Some of us (girls) would have loved to play basketball. Some of us girls got together and played just between our classes, but then I think they decided it wasn’t good for girls to do that.”
Anderson share a similar sentiment about basketball.
“Back in our days, there wasn’t such a thing as a girl’s basketball team. Some of us girls decided we would start our own team and we called it the ‘Big 6.’ One of our friends had just quit school, and we wanted her on the team. We talked her into coming back to school so they would let her play. She came back, and as soon as basketball was over she quit again. We did this team on our own, and school let us use the gym. We mostly played the grade below us, and what fun we had.”
Dress code was an important part of their life. The girls did have a gym outfit, “a one piece suit,” as Lind remembers.
“Girls had to wear dresses to school every day,” Anderson said. “We were in our teens before the school changed the policy and we could wear jeans on a Friday. That was an important day for us.”
Though things have certainly changed since the class of 1957 graduated, the camaraderie they all felt growing up in Rush City has continued to this day. There are still frequent gatherings and they remain close.