• Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Special to the Journal

You can't take the country out of the girl

Updated: Feb 9

The saying “You can take the girl (or boy) out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” I am living proof of the reliability and universality of this sentence.

My roots began in Franklin County, Neb. My dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather farmed the homesteaded property and as does my brother. Years ago, we received the Ak-Sar-Ben honor of owning and maintaining the land by the same family for more than 100 years.

Franklin County, Neb., borders Smith County, Kan., in the south and north central part of the respective counties. I have never been a stranger to Kansas. Even as a child when my grandfather drove to Waconda Spring believing like the American tribes of the Plains that it possessed healing powers for arthritis. It is now covered by the water of the Glen Elder Dam in Kansas.

Then, in 1988, when our first son was only 5 years old, we purchased what Linn County folk referred to as the Knight property outside of Centerville. Georgetown was just down the road and it consisted of at least a schoolhouse and church. The back part of the Centerville Community Church is attached to the sanctuary of the present church.

I was told by a very reliable source, the late Bill Finfrock, the chicken house, located east of the more than century old farmhouse had been part of the schoolhouse and housed coal and provided shelter for the horses ridden by students. By the way, the coal bin/barn, and chicken house blew down in one of the recent windstorms.

I don’t question the reliability of this information. I, too, attended a one-room schoolhouse in Nebraska in the 1950s complete with a small building for shelter and coal. Many a lunch break found students climbing over the wall built in front of the coal section. By this time, the school house was heated with propane.

To add to the credibility of my opening statement, girls were expected to wear dresses to school. I can only imagine the horror my mother experienced when she was told her tomboy daughter climbed over a wall, likely 5 to 6 feet tall in a dress.

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies will soon be delivered to the Linn County libraries.

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