Starting School

I remember trauma on the first day of school, too. In her first letter, Lucy describes her first day of school, and she implies that there could have been tears. I’ll bet that Lucy’s mother had trouble on the first day of school, too, as her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter all had great reluctance to start school.

Mara (center) on the first day of school.

Mara (center) on the first day of school in 1986.

When our daughter started, she was not a little reluctant to get on the bus for school. Her brother was four years older, so we thought he could help her navigate the bus and getting into her classroom. That plan worked perfectly until Lon saw one of his friends as he got off the bus. Mara was left alone, scared and wondering where to go. Not a good start.

There was excitement on my first day of school, too. I don’t remember being scared or worried, mostly looking forward to it. One of my best friends that summer had been our neighbor Ray. We started in the same room for first grade in Franklin School in Jamestown. Ray did not like being left alone with all those strange kids, so he made a fuss. Such a fuss that his mother couldn’t leave. She sat in the back, in the cloak room, for the morning.

We’re all a little afraid of something. It helps to have someone along to allay that fear.

At least I didn’t have to bake stones in the oven to keep my feet warm on the way to school.
Grandpa Guy Havelick


Originally published 2014-10-13
Updated 2017-02-01

Lucy writes …

Going to school was a major step for me as I was so shy – of course the first grade meant singing a solo at a program. Our teacher was Miss Niblock and I really loved her. When my Dad took me the first day, telling the teacher “Don’t hurt her feelings or she won’t stop crying until she sees her mother”. Continue reading

Lucy’s Letters – Into the Good Life, the Hard Way

Lucy was born on a farm about a hundred years ago. In this, the first of the letters Judy’s mother Lucy wrote to me in 1991, she shares her earliest memories of growing up on a farm near Gardner, ND.

Two things stand out for me in this letter. First is her description of walking around in the farmyard, feeding chickens. A hundred years after she fed those chickens there is a national debate about how to raise chickens, most loudly argued by those in favor of “free-range” birds, just like those in Gardner.

The second is Lucy’s handwriting. Longhand. My grade school teachers tried to teach me to write longhand, using the Palmer Method. They failed. I couldn’t learn to write neatly. Never did. Typing was my forte. Lucy wrote beautifully, and her daughter Judy’s hand writing is even more incredible. The Palmer Method of handwriting is no longer taught. How long will it be until Lucy’s letters are illegible in their original form? Do you have as much trouble reading the letter below as I do? Handwritten letters from the 1800’s are difficult to read, and it’s even worse for those written a hundred years before that.

How long will it be until even the words I’m writing today are illegible?
Grandpa Guy Havelick


Originally published 2014-09-29
Updated 2017-02-01

Lucy writes:



Memories – My earliest memories are of life on the farm – I remember walking in the yard with my mother and being given a little pail with wheat in it – she also had a pail and we would feed the chickens, they would come so close to us we would have to bat them out of the way.  She would put her hands under them on the nest – I thought “Even the chickens love my Mom.”

Play things were orange boxes with a divider in the middle for a cupboard and it could hold colored stones. (Yes Lon -I even liked stones when I was small.) Mud pies made of water and dirt-graced the shelves.

Continue reading