From Pipi’s Pasture: Memories triggered by sagebrush

Diane Prather
Diane Prather

Early this morning, when I was walking to the corral here at Pipi’s Pasture to do chores, I noticed the smell of the sagebrush that grows in a nearby field. I don’t usually notice the scent at all, but perhaps this morning was different because of all of the rain.

Anyway, that smell triggered memories of the days when my siblings and I went to the Morapos School all those years ago.

The memories are interesting because my sister Charlotte (Allum) and I were just talking about the Morapos School recently — with the country school reunion coming up — and one of her most vivid memories of the school was in the fall when the sagebrush and rabbit brush were so fragrant. That goes for me, too.

It was late August or early September when the community mothers gathered to clean up the schoolhouse and teacherage for the start of school. The sagebrush and rabbit brush had grown up around the buildings during the summer months and were particularly fragrant that time of the year. Cutting the brush away from the swings, slide, and buildings released even more smell, thus the pleasant memories.

There are so many things that I don’t remember about the Morapos School. For example, I attended the old log school that had been there a long time before another school — the one that stands there now — was built, but I don’t remember it. That would have been first and second grade, but I don’t recall what the school looked like inside or what I studied. I don’t remember my first grade teacher nor the names of the other students, except for one kid who bullied me.

The first week of May I received a letter from Pat (Coles) Steele, a former Craig resident, who now lives in Salt Lake City. I have known Pat for some time, via the phone and letters. She had been reading about the country school reunion in the Craig Daily Press and put her brain to work to come up with the names of students and teachers at the Morapos School from 1934 to 1937. I don’t know how she did it. Pat was also a student at the school during those years.

Pat wrote that her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Coles, taught in the old building of Morapos School in 1916 and maybe 1917. That’s where Pat went to school, too. She remembers the “usual pot-bellied stove to keep us warm, the teacher’s responsibility.” She also remembers the barn for the horses, which was there, at least partially, when I started school. Since some of the students had to ride to school, they kept their horses in the barn during the school day.

I turned Pat’s valuable list of students and teachers over to the country school reunion organizers. Thank you, Pat, for sharing the information!

More about the Morapos School in next week’s column.

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