“Milford Consolidated school closes Friday evening for two weeks, generally known as the `Corn Husking Vacation'. This will give the larger boys in school an opportunity to help on the farm, as well as the bus drivers and others to devote more of their time to garnering the bountiful crop of corn that Milford township acres have grown.”
This notice appeared in the Nevada paper in the middle of Oct. in 1933. How much of a vacation this would have been for the larger boys in school could be debated but the younger students sure looked forward to the cessation of the monotonous routine in the “life of a student”. Milford Twp was somewhat unique in this vacation. Milford Twp was exclusively rural and agriculture and it was very logical that this event would occur to supplement the labor situation. The larger city schools did not have this vacation.
The tradition of the vacation for corn harvesting continued until shortly after WWII. However, in the fall of probably 1949, the entire student body of Milford Twp, went, en masse, with the possible exception of some of the younger grades, to a few of the neighboring fields to pick up ears of corn that had fallen to the ground.*
A flat bed trailer with a foot high board around the edge would be pulled behind a tractor. The idea was that the student would pick up an ear and place it on the trailer. Shortly, a game developed in which the student would see from how far away he could throw an ear and have it stay on the wagon. It was rather dangerous to be near the wagon when this competition developed. I don't recall anyone getting hit too solidly.
When the task (and game) was completed, the farmer would share (perhaps 50-50) the corn with the students, or perhaps give the corn to the students to sell, or perhaps buy the corn back from the students. The number of bushels would be “guesstimated” in most cases and every one would be happy. The farmer wouldn't have to deal with as much “volunteer” corn in next year's crops and now he had some corn already on the rack to feed to the livestock. The school, or class, would have some money for a class project. And probably, most important to the students, they had legitimately gotten out of a day's classes and had some fun out of doors.
*The situation of ears of corn falling to the ground was caused by the infestation of the European Corn Bore. This worm would eat the core of the shank of the ear away and then when the wind or anything moved the plant, the shank would break and the ear was on the ground. Within a couple years plant breeders made corn ears dropping to the ground blend into, and just become, another “thing of the past”.
June 1---1939: “Ah! Milford completes its first annual.” So reads one of the very last sentences in the annual that was produced that year. It was titled “Spotlight”. And so it was. With the exception of a few years; i.e. 1949-1952 the annual was titled “Messenger” and in 1953 “Bulldog”. Then the title returned to “Spotlight”. (The annual of 1949 was the first produced since the annual of 1939- a ten year moratorium.) And appropriately, the last annual, in 1961, was also entitled “Spotlight” just as had been the first.
The 1939 annual, although a similar looking publication, was constructed quite differently. The photos, actually snapshots, were glued on printed pages. The group photos were quite small and the individuals were not identified. There might be an article about the people in the photo under the picture. On some pages the people shown in the photo might be listed alphabetically. Good identification became the practice later on.
Grace Molde`39 Helland, now of Story City, who was one of the six graduates that year, believes the photos were taken by one of students, perhaps one of the teachers, then reproduced to match the number of books sold. Then each purchaser was given copies of these and pasted the pictures to the appropriate page. Even by this cost reducing method she recalled some of the students did not want to afford the cost and she does not recall how many copies were produced. Money was tight in 1939. Milford Twp, as was most of the country, stood on the doorstep of recovery from the economic collapse of the thirties. But for the agriculture community this economic downfall had, in reality, begun at least eight years earlier than the infamous “Black Thursday” of Oct 1929. So the folks in Milford Township were used to “tightening the belt just another notch”.
One of the many interesting parts of the publication was a listing of the all graduates of Milford Twp School through 1938. It began with the first class in 1927 and included name, occupation, city name, and the spouse's name of the alumni from those 12 years.
There were memory books that predated the 1939 annual. From what is still available they appear to be concentrated on the high school experience and have no information about the grade school. For example, in 1932 there was a “High School Memory Book” which had pages for activities, autographs, opinions, favorite movies, books, plays, etc, and pictures but the actual construction of the book was done by the individual students. The photos were about an inch by three-quarters inch and glued in. So, what one had was mainly the effort of the individual who put the book together. Within this book were places to place (glue them in) mimeographed papers about the plays and other activities that occurred throughout the school year. After