Outhouses, Basketball and Teachers are Among the Many Memories
In interviews, Jean Martin, Sandra (Everitt) Whelchel, Josie (Dransfeldt) Fetters, Marilyn Parker and Genevieve (Rosenthal) Chubb shared some of their memories.
They thought the small school, which housed grades one through 12 until 1959 and grades one through eight until 1967, was a fun place with wonderful teachers who taught the basics. It was also a community gathering place before the Community Building opened in downtown Parker in December 1950.
“The school was the gathering place for the community,” recalls Martin. “There were plays every year and old-fashioned dinners where the women would provide lunch and the men would bid on them.”
Parker, who moved from Littleton to Parker in 1942 and attended sixth through 11th grade at Parker Consolidated School, says Parker was a friendly place. “Everybody knew everybody from the first grade on up.”
Among her favorite memories were an ice rink that was created by flooding a vacant lot one winter; the hair bows the girls used to wear and the boys used to pull out and stash in a cubby hole behind the school stage; the movies that were shown at the school to entertain area residents; and basketball.
“Basketball was a big part of school,” Parker says, noting that both girls and boys had teams. She says the teachers tried to get the students to play tennis one year, “but we thought that was prissy.”
Chubb and Martin say the school had drinking fountains, but no indoor bathroom facilities. Teachers and students alike used outhouses set aside for women, girls and boys.
Depending on the year, the former students say a teacher would teach two or three grades at a time. They would focus on the younger grades first, getting those children started on a project before moving on to the next grades. Before the day was over, some activities would involve all the students in the room.
It wasn’t difficult to manage the different grade levels, they say, because the class sizes were so small, with maybe four to 10 students per grade.
Martin, who lived with her grandparents while attending the first through fourth grades before moving away over the 1941-1942 holiday season, remembers a variety of activities at her grandparents’ house. Her grandmother, Annie O’Brien, liked to barter and find ways to make a little extra money.
Martin recalls being a student who would arrive home to have lunch with some of the school’s teachers, who paid for the daily meal. She also was able to take piano lessons because her grandmother traded them out for space at the home that allowed the piano teacher to teach other kids in the area.
Fetters, who attended fifth through 12th grade and was among the members of the school’s last graduating glass of 1958, remembers 10 teachers and about 50 students.
With a father who was a member of the school board, she also remembers a decision to purchase two buses to carry students to school and sporting events. One bus carried the girls and another bus carried the boys to sporting events. Before the bus, her mother, Gunhild Dransfeldt, drove the girls to sporting events so the cheer team would be present.
Whelchel attended first through eighth grade in Parker and was in the first class of students to be bused to Douglas County High School in Castle Rock after the high school portion of the school was closed by a new superintendent, Lowell Baumunk.
“It was horrible. We did not want to go,” she recalls, adding that the superintendent even told the community that there would never be another high school in Parker – a statement that was proven untrue in 1983 when Ponderosa High School opened south of the Town’s limits.
She recalls the advantages offered by the school’s small size, including the fact that younger students could be included on teams and in activities, such as the One Act Play Contest. As a seventh grader, she successfully auditioned and participated in the contest. The same was true for the choir and band.
“If you had the ability, you got to do it even if you were in the seventh or eighth grade,” Whelchel says.
Chubb, who attended the school from first grade to her graduation in 1950, has fond memories of the principal her senior year. The six seniors – five girls and one boy – asked him to take them on their senior sneak day.
“He was tickled to death that we asked him to take us on our senior sneak. And lo and behold, we had a ball,” she says, noting they visited the prison in the Canon City area, the mental facility in Pueblo and the Garden of the Gods.
Whelchel and Fetters shared memories about a math teacher – Alvin Steifer.
“We had the world’s best math teacher,” Whelchel recalls. “There wasn’t anybody he couldn’t teach math to.”
And then there were the stories about Ms. Quinn, shared by Parker and Chubb, and Ms. Brazelton, shared by Martin and Chubb.
Ms. Quinn was a heavy-set woman who kept the kids in line with a large rubber hose that she threatened to spank them with.
Parker remembers the rubber hose putting an end to the misbehaving of “unruly boys in the seventh or eighth grade” who caused four or five teachers to come and go between September and December of one year.
Chubb remembers being given two punishment options after she and some of her classmates skipped out on school to avoid being taught by a substitute teacher they didn’t particularly like.
When Ms. Quinn returned the next day, Chubb says, she offered two options – being spanked with a rubber hose or staying in for recess for six weeks.
“We chose the six weeks.”
Thelma Brazelton was a primary teacher who fell in love with Les Shimpfky, an intermediate grade teacher who eventually became the school principal.
Laurel Marcucci, the couple’s daughter, was quoted in a 2005 article as saying that her parents had to ask permission from the school board to get married because the contract given to Ms. Brazelton would have become null and void if she married.
The board agreed they could get married if they would marry in December, so she could finish out the school year in case she become pregnant soon thereafter. They wed on Dec. 25, 1939, and were married 61 years when Les died in 2001.
“It was so funny,” Chubb says. “The teacher and the principal getting together.”
Black and white photos courtesy of Marilyn Parker, Bob and Josie Fetters, and Sandra Whelchel via Whelchel’s book, Images of America – Parker.”