St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rural School Christmas Program

Fourth and final Wolf Creek School -- Now Methodist Church
Christmas Program at Wolf Creek
   Just after Thanksgiving the teacher would give us our “parts” for the Christmas program.  The younger you were the smaller the part you had to memorize.  The parts were mostly recitations of a few lines about Christmas trees or Santa Claus.  You took the part home and had your parents help you learn it.  Every student had at least one part and would join in the songs.  The older students might have a play to put on and some solos or group songs to sing.

    The week before Christmas started the serious preparations.  Kids would have to say their parts for the teacher.  Songs were practiced.  Excitement built as Christmas vacation, presents, and the program were all getting close.

  A few days before the program the “big boys” cleared out part of the area in the big room and brought the stage up from the basement.  This was a raised platform of boards that was setup on one end of the room.  The other desks were crowded together.

  On the day of the program, everything else stopped.  The students crowded all of the desks from the big room into the little room.  We then walked down the hill, over the creek and up past the stores to the Wolf Creek Methodist church and carried all of the chairs back to the big room and placed them facing the stage.  The piano was moved into place.

  The afternoon was rehearsals.  The teacher changed the program to match the missing students and those who had not learned their parts.  The room was cleaned, bulletin boards were put in order.  A Christmas tree was brought in and decorated with the colored paper chains and other ornaments we made each year and lights and tinsel.  The tree was on the corner of the stage.  

  The big room was separated from the little room by two doors that were opened to allow the students to be in the little room during the program.  The stage was entered from the little room through these doors.

  We all went home.  In the evening after milking the cows early, the families would all come to the school.  We all dressed in our Sunday best and brought any costumes that were needed.  The students went to the little room and the parents to the big room.  They sat on the church chairs and visited with each other until the last stragglers arrived

  The lights in the big room were dimmed and just the lights over the stage were on.  The welcome was by the teacher or a recitation by a student.   The program lasted 45 minutes and included songs with the audience joining in.   The program generally had some religious aspect as well as Santa Claus, presents, Christmas trees, etc.

  Highlights of the program were when “my kid” performed and the good natured humor when the little kids bumbled their lines.  At the end of the program a Christmas carol like Silent Night was sung.

  Next came the handing out of the treats.  Each child in the school and audience was given a small paper sack with a handful of peanuts, some Christmas candy and an orange or apple or both.  The parents stayed and visited for a while.  The kids talked about their treats and whether they were going to eat them right away or save them. 
   The next day was the last day of school before Christmas vacation.  It was cleanup day.  The parade of students walked down the hill and back up to the church.  The little kids carried one chair and the big kids two.   Sometimes the teacher would let us all stop at Raleigh Rogers store and buy a Christmas treat for us.  The stage was put away to await the spring program.  The desks were re-arranged.   Since this was mostly done by noon, the afternoon was given over to a long recess and then inside games and Christmas songs.

  Many of the students brought a present from home to give to the teacher.  The teacher often gave a present to each student.  One year we got a pencil with our name printed on it. 

  During the time before Christmas, each of us had been working on some gift to take home to our parents.  We sawed a pig shaped breadboard one year out of plywood with a coping saw.  We made cards for our parents.  All of these were gathered together.  If time permitted we sang some Christmas Carols.
Wolf Creek Chuirch 1890s-1950s
 Finally the day was over.  The nearby students walked home.  Floyd Harris came to pick up the rest of us in his station wagon bus and we left for our 2 weeks Christmas vacation.