A Time That Was by Author LoRee Peery

2012 December 22
by faylamb

Our special guest today, LoRee Peery, is a lifelong Nebraskan, LoRee Peery is the oldest of seven and grew up on a Nebraska farm. Thanks to her mother, she learned to read when she was four and has devoured books since.

LoRee and her husband have tackled some interesting projects over the course of their married life. For one, they built the home they live in with their own hands. They used to want more acres further away from city life, but one day LoRee realized they had their “greener on the other side of the fence” already. All it took was removing the hedge made of trees and bushes.

She feels grounded in her sense of place and considers it a blessing to have lived most of her life in the country. Her Frivolities series is available from White Rose Publishing, and you can read more about LoRee on her website and on Facebook.

LoRee shares some sweet “country” memories with us today:

Three images come to mind when I contemplate childhood Christmas memories. I flash back to Black Lake School, Antelope County’s District #56; Grace Lutheran Church – postcard steepled and all, and the asbestos-sided itsy farmhouse where I was privileged to grow up.

Fewer and fewer Nebraskans can claim the memories of spending kindergarten through eighth grade years in a one-room country school. Twelve pupils were an average number, and that’s counting the older boys who skipped school to help in the fields during harvest. Even in the fifties, the only education required for teachers was a high school diploma.

When I began school in 1954, it was the first year for polio vaccinations.

Memories become fuzzy over the years, but I believe the pasture pond in the neighboring pasture was named Black Lake due to vegetation. Teachers had permission to take students on scientific excursions. Who knows what we were learning in winter. I only remember falling through the ice. The water wasn’t deep enough to cover my head, but I took a soaking that stole away my breath. One of the big boys pulled me out and carried me back to the schoolhouse where I was wrapped in a stinky wool army blanket and the teacher’s coat. I waited while my clothes dried near the stove. I laughed along with the other kids, but falling into a body of water was serious business to me. I much preferred Christmas as a winter event.

And those country Christmas programs were a big deal to a child. “Curtains” were strung by stretching wool army blankets over a wire to create our stage. The teacher sat on a stool with script in hand. None of us stood near the oil-burning stove close to center-stage. I sang a solo most every year, played in skits, and memorized “’Twas the night before Christmas.” The thrill of the programs carried me through the remaining winter months.

At the end of the program, Santa burst through the door, wearing his seamed face and lots of padding as the floor boards creaked under his booted steps. “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas” resounded through the room. The gunnysack slung over his shoulder revealed brown paper sacks full of treats to make memories last ’til the next year—peanuts in the shell, a few other nuts that you needed a nutcracker for, crème drops that we called “haystacks”—filled hard candy, an apple, and an orange.

Our Sunday school program was on Christmas Eve in Neligh,Nebraska. We kids were allowed to open one gift before we left for church. That present was a necessary item of clothing to wear in the program. At the church, we lined up in the basement of the old Grace Lutheran. The youngest ascended first, the eighth-graders bringing up the rear. We traditionally entered singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” and continued to sing until the last young person found his or her designated seat. Those nights were magical times of music, while we celebrated the birth of the Baby Jesus. The service ended when Pastor Carl Pullman sang, “Oh Holy Night.”

Christmas on the farm often included time spent snowed in around the holidays, but we made more memories that way. It was a Mosel tradition to eat oyster stew after church on Christmas Eve. That’s one tradition we carried on until my sons-in-law boldly said they really don’t like oysters. So we have two or three soups along with cheese and crackers, and desserts. Hubby and I have oyster stew on New Year’s Eve now. Our Christmas trees were always spindly, sparsely branched pines, I have no idea where they came from. The cedars cut from our pasture were dirty and messy, but Mom made decorating fun. We created paper chains, included homemade decorations from school, strung popcorn, and made a tinfoil star for the top. We loved throwing on icicles to cover up the holes, and saved the tinsel for the next year. With so many small hands involved, the glass baubles grew fewer each year.

I loved Christmastime as a child. As an adult, I still get lost in the wonder of singing the meaning of most of those familiar carols memorized when I was young. Love came down at Christmas, lived among us for thirty-three years, and then gave His life so you and I can spend eternity with our Lord and Savior.

How many readers have one-room country school memories?

LoRee’s latest release is Found In the Woods:

Beth Phillips returns to Platteville, Nebraska in order to begin a new life and to hide from her abusive ex-husband. The secluded cabin offers a chance to stay hidden and to draw closer to God, but Beth quickly discovers she is not alone in the woods. She befriends a curious, displaced wolf, but instead of fearing the animal Beth finds comfort in his company. When field biologist, Aiden Holt, follows up on reported wolf sightings, he finds the animal and Beth Phillips. With emotional baggage of his own, Aiden usually prefers animals to people, but Beth’s passion to keep the wolf draws Aiden in. Experience tells him the wolf needs relocation. His heart tells him he needs Beth Phillips. He camps nearby to capture the wolf, but can he capture Beth’s heart, too?

Two souls, each lost in their own way, are brought together by one of God’s beautiful creations. Will the Lord’s path to their destiny be found in the woods?

Found in The Woods is available at Pelican Book Group and Amazon.com.


11 Responses leave one →
  1. December 22, 2012

    Very fun memories, though I can’t imagine how cold that dip in the water must’ve been.

    Found in the Woods sounds fabulous and I love the cover.

    I tried to go to LoRee’s website, but perhaps the link is broken. A little message popped up saying, “Not found.”

    • December 22, 2012

      Hey, Toni:

      Nice to see you here! The link is working now. Thank you for letting me know. It was not author-error. It was mine. Merry Christmas.

  2. December 22, 2012

    The days are passing so fast, I didn’t check in myself until lunchtime. Many people spell my name Perry, is that what you did, Fay? Just teasing. Thank you so much for having me here.
    And thanks for your visit, Toni. I hope you tried again.

    • December 22, 2012

      Nope. I didn’t add the http://. Sorry about that. But I have been known to spell names wrong. Poor Cara Putman had to keep reminding me her name isn’t Putnam–that was the last name of my heroine in Because of Me, and I couldn’t get it correct to save my life.

    • December 26, 2012

      I did indeed try again, LoRee. 🙂 Thanks!

  3. December 22, 2012

    Is anything better than growing up on a farm or in the country or near a pond? Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories!

  4. December 22, 2012

    As always, LoRee…what a great post! Love your Christmas memories, although the very idea of falling into that icy lake makes my teeth chatter. lol

    I didn’t go to school in a one-room set-up, but from 5th grade through high school, I attended a Christian school operated by the church my family attended. We always had combined classes. All four high school grades were in one room. All of junior high was in one room. Elementary classes were usually divided up something like K-1st in one room and 2nd-4th grades in another. I think the largest number of total students was about 80 in one year, and my graduating class was made up of a whopping FOUR students! 🙂

    Awww, sweet memories!

  5. December 22, 2012

    Davalyn and Delia, I praise the Lord for the values of farm life and a small school that are part of who I am.
    May you continue to create valuable memories for those you are in contact with.

  6. December 23, 2012

    Thank you for bringing these wonderful memories to life in order to share them with us, LoRee… it was like a miniature Christmas vacation. The closest I ever came to being in a one room school was a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade class — and I loved it. Later, when I became a teacher, I especially liked mixed ages in my classroom, as having the older children help the younger is so motivational all the way around. The younger ones look up to the older, and the older ones feel needed. Such a “win, win” situation, I wish there was more of it these days.

    We had a little saying that went: “The big ones take care of the little ones, the boys take care of the girls, and the girls take care of everybody.” A fine standard, in my opinion, but I’m sure it would be highly criticized today!

    By the way, FOUND IN THE WOODS sounds like a great story, and I have put it on my “to be read” list. Here’s wishing you all the best with it, along with a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ahead.

    Thanks to you, too, Fay, for spotlighting our wonderful PBG authors… it’s such a blessing!

  7. December 26, 2012

    Thanks, Fay. 🙂 Merry (belated) Christmas to you, and a very happy upcoming new year . . . Hopefully minus the stress and hard experiences alluded to in your post of the 24th . . .

    🙂 Toni

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS