Those who leave Osceola almost universally have a feeling of nostalgia for their former home. Not many express their feeling so well as did John Boden of Los Angeles recently. John was a member of the class of 1916 of Osceola high school and before the 35th reunion of that class on June 3, he wrote a letter to be read at the reunion, thinking he would not be able to come. However, he did get here but his letter was read and filed away in the secretary's records. A portion of the letter is reproduced in this centennial edition as a typical example of the feeling boys and girls of yesterday have for the place of their birth.
Like the rest of you, as I get older I think more of the old home town and the old school associations. Those of us who live far away have occasional flash-backs in memory when we think of Osceola. Sometimes it is only a flash of one scene; or when more at leisure the mind may wander to several. Sometimes the same scene flashes back many times.
As for myself; it might be Deke Banker loping into town on his pony; Crack Hedrick organizing the packs of 'Fox and hounds' in the pastures southwest of town near the woods; or a game of duck on the rock almost anywhere; the newly opened library with its peculiar fragrance of fine paper and printer's ink;
Small and large boys digging furiously for dimes, quarters, pennies and even silver dollars in the dirt on the east side of the square where the wooden walks had been torn up--the wooden awnings over the walks came down at the same time;
The square at supper time with the stores closed and the sun low in the sky--deserted except for Charlie Winter, the tailor, standing in front of his building, his big curved tobacco pipe blowing smoke, and gazing-- always gazing-- across the west side of the courthouse park-- this sight I saw as early as 1910 and as late as 1940;
Perhaps it is Phil Fowler's big bay horse, Lad-- always at a fast pace and hitched to the surrey-- with-the-fringe-on-top and kicking up plenty of dust, or Mr. Phil Fowler, Senior, piloting his electric runabout;
The flash of a red squirrel tail disappearing around the trunk of a maple-- this same kind of squirrels that called a congress on a sunny November afternoon on the roof of Jack McIntire's woodshed and carted away two bushels of drying walnuts before Jack could get home from school to stop them;
A scene of Miss Clarice Baird on the south steps of the East Ward, clapping her hands to command attention-- which she always got!
Sometimes it's a flash of Hailey Bryant and his passenger bus trotting from the depot to the Howe Hotel; the exciting run of the fire department, always ending with 'Terry' Campbell - a handy man with a fireman's axe-- tearing into the roof of the unfortunate house-- over the protests of the outraged householder;
Cy Arthur's big dray team tearing down the alley on its way to their oats; the town band with Garret Barnard's baritone horn and Phil Fowler's baritone voice in unison rattling the plate windows around the square; Gus Bova's soda fountain, later Fitzgerald's, where we went late at night -- 9:30 p.m.; skating parties at Bacon's pond and shinny clubs grubbed from the hazel patch in Bashor's pasture.
Things like these we remember,-- and want to remember. These are the memories of the things that cradled us and help sustain us in a changing world. These are a cross-section to us, of America at the peak of its greatness-- before we mired ourselves in the affairs of the Old World and came out with the mud of European isms stuck to our sides. That was a time when we still thought that America and its institutions were the epitome of political and social desirability. I still think they were.
I do not know what is taught in these same Osceola schools now but I do know that then we were taught moral principles and civic policies which were designed to keep our feet moving toward the goal of personal integrity, which multiplied by the teaching of thousands of schools over the country, kept this country on an even keel.
As for the country, someone must have titled the cart a bit and fractured a wheel; but as for ourselves, let us hope that here, in these schools and these homes was developed the character and the regard for the right that will help us all return to the standards that are our birthright-- standards that have sustained us and that will sustain the country.