Scenes of yesteryear

This illustration shows the array of school activities that were offered to the MHS Class of 1921.

In The 1921, the Menomonie High School yearbook, the Menomin, featured all of the traditional items in a school yearbook of today — except that this issue included a poem by one of the school’s teachers commenting on the trials and pleasures that come with the job of teaching in the 1920s.

Some will say that “nothing has changed”, but let’s leave that, and give today’s readers a chance to read this poetic statement, and let them make up their minds. Miss Cecilia May Sweeney, a graduate of Oshkosh Normal, seems to have captured her “feelings” about teaching in the Menomonie school system in the early 1920s.

Incidentally the teaching staff included such notables as William Ballentine, the superintendent of the school, who headed a staff of 16 teachers that included Mildred Schneider, the principal. Other familiar names on the 1921 staff, include Ralph Bongey, Carrie Schabacker, Lina Hellum, Hattie Bates, A. W. Ingli, and Mabel Zimmerman, and Adelin Wright Macauley.

The Session Room

By Cecilia May Sweeney, Teacher of English at MHS in 1921

I’ve attended school and taught school

In many a state and town

From the Mississippi to Green Bay

And from the North Pole down

I experienced joys and sorrows,

On every inch of ground

But here in Fair Menomonie

My session room I found.

Today up in my session room

I had the strangest dream

The room was filled with students

And my, how they did scream.

Up piped a squeaky voice

“A permit for some water.”

Her neighbor feigned the same excuse;

For pitch her voice was better.

A third asked for a permit

The library to explore,

Before I finished sighing that,

A fourth would me implore.

“I want to go to see Miss Reid

About my Odyssey

I can’t say whether Cyclops

Lived on land or sea.”

A fifth was using energy

On x and z I wean,

A sixth was studying Shakespeare

And acting out the scene.

Then I became exhausted,

‘Twas like a day of doom

And so I sought the teacher’ wardrobe

But that, too, was a session room.

I went up to the library

My duties to resume.

But to my grief and sorrow

I found a session room.

I walked down to the office,

In hopes of getting rest,

But Miss Geddes has a session room

And students sat upon her desk.

I left the office in despair,

My hopes for peace were riven’

There was a question on my mind –

Are there session rooms in Heaven?

John Russell, a retired local photographer and Dunn County resident, writes a weekly column for The Dunn County News. He is curator emeritus of the Dunn County Historical Society.


Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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