Peru State College - Peruvian Yearbook (Peru, NE)

 - Class of 1917

Page 51 of 302

 

Peru State College - Peruvian Yearbook (Peru, NE) online yearbook collection, 1917 Edition, Page 51 of 302
Page 51 of 302



Peru State College - Peruvian Yearbook (Peru, NE) online yearbook collection, 1917 Edition, Page 50
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Peru State College - Peruvian Yearbook (Peru, NE) online yearbook collection, 1917 Edition, Page 52
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Page 51 text:

■•■i Ur finale. In a word, the presentation of the pageant, too. heljn-d to put new content into the word collaboration; for everyone,—committees, advisers, and the three hundred and fifty in the cast, down to the last butterfly and violet.—did bis best for the honor of the community. Where should be pageant be played? To many it seemed obvious at first that the athletic field was the stage ready made. But a very brief study of the essentials of open air playing made clear that this was artistically impossible. So the neighborhood was scoured, and a natural wooded amphitheatre found to the southeast. The stage was levelled, tiled and sodded, shrubbery planted for background and entrances, and a forest home was ready for the spirit of the place. Scarcely a sojourner in Peru but has felt that serene spirit which pervades hills and woods and river. And every one who has felt it carries its memory with him out into the world. It is fitting, therefore, that this embodied spirit should speak the prologue, and that he should then stand apart, to watch the pageant of the ages as they bring their gifts to this place which he calls his own. The seas have retreated, leaving their bounty in hollows and on hills. The spirit of the place looks on, as the rude ice-giants, singing their defiant song, march over the land. When they retreat they too have left the ground the richer for their invasion. The cyclonic winds, in a whirling dance, scatter their largess. The place is made ready for man and the nature forces join in a great hymn of praise to the Creator of all things. Man appears, heralded bv prophetic words from the Spirit of the Place. The Indians, the first human denizens of the region, proclaim their kinship with nature; with ancient rites a new-born child is solemnly presented to the cosmos, and the powers of earth, air and heaven are invoked, to make his path smooth over the rugged hills of life. In prophetic chant the seer of the tribe adjures the child to be strong in the struggle; for he glimpses dimly a darkened future, when the Indian shall no longer be first in the land. l ime goes by. The song of the prairie schooner is heaid in the distance, and over the hill ox teams and wagons slowly make their way! Two pioneer families, seeking a home in the new country, stop to make camp for the night, As the leader of the company sits by the fire alone in reverie, wondering where the new home will be found, visions appear to him. The queen of the prairie tells of the rewards she bestows upon the strong toiler, but warns him too of the hardships, the loneliness, the silence of life in her realm. Leaping out of the shadows, the mocking spirit of gold beckons the pioneer toward the mountains, seeking to lure him with hints of reckless life and quickly gained wealth. Then comes the river, always the friend of man, a bond between the old life and the new; and the pioneer make his choice. Me and his companions settle by the river. Again there is a lapse of years. Along the street of the little river settlement people arc passing to the mill,—not only villagers, for whites and Indians for miles around bring their grain to be ground here. A knot of men gathers, and soon loud voices and bitter words arc heard,—echoes even in this remote corner of the rising strife between £ 7

Page 50 text:

worked out in the rough a plan tor the book, divided tin task of investigating tin-various sources of historical information,—and grew more enthusiastic with each weekly meeting, as the big possibilities of the theme began to show themselves in flu-reports made. OKI residents of Peru told picturesque stories of early pioneer days, of tense war times, of gay, long-remembered evenings when a steamboat tied up at tilt-landing for over night. There was enough for a week’s pageant. What a pity tin-need for compressing it into an evening’s limits forbade including everything!—that the students of these comfortable days here could not see their predecessors carrying water cutting their own wood, wearing the same gingham dress all week for nine months, washing and ironing it on Saturdays!—that all the quietly dramatic life of a simple early day, with its hardship, its fun and its flavor of fine ruggedness, could not be put on the stage in detail! The problem of elimination occupied many hours during the weekly evenings together. Hut finally the book was outlined, and different epochs or episodes apportioned to be written. These episodes were in turn read before the committee, discussd with a fine-democratic freedom of speech, often rewritten more than once, as a new bit of material altered the situation, or the good of the whole demanded revision,—in fact, the book was a genuine piece of collaboration. Miss Rose Clark, a geologist with an imagination, conceived and wrote the prologue and the first part—the age of preparation. M iss Bowen formulated the Indian scene, utilizing a wonderful nature ceremony, practiced by the Indians in Nebraska, with the addition of a lyric composed by Dr. House to MacDowell’s music. Miss Esther Clark wrote the pioneer episode, with its lyrics; Miss Bowen and Professor Smith the early life of the town, Professor Smith collecting the material. Miss Mutz worked over the history of the school and wrote the group of episodes dealing with this topic, I)r. House contributing the symbolic episode of the transfer. To Dr. House was assigned the writing of the foreword and the editorship. Miss Victoria Wilkinson of the art department designed the cover. So the book was made. The book was done. Now for the presentation. From the beginning there had rested upon Professor Smith, as chairman, the heavy task of organization, of setting the various wheels of the enterprise in motion, of keeping endless details in mind, and of meeting the difficulties that arose. Now he put before the committee his plan of executive organization, and a community committee was appointed to handle each aspect of the big undertaking,—finance, publicity, transportation, stage setting, properties, supervision of grounds and costumes. Miss Dunn as dramatic adviser, gave untiringly of her fine technical skill in the rehearsals, which were in general charge of Miss Rose Clark and Miss Bowen. The art classes worked in the designing and decorating of the costumes with Miss Mutz, chairman of the committee of valiant women who made these. The poster advertising of the pageant was designed by Miss Crumley and executed by Miss Wilkinson. Miss Thomas and Miss Carpenter were most helpful in the selection and arrangement of appropriate music, while I)r. House directed the choruses constituting so large a part of the pageant’s charm. The dances of the first part were originated by Miss Downing, who also drilled some of those in the £) 7



Page 52 text:

 south and north. While they are yet talking, the incarnate struggle is in their midst; a mule-drawn wagon halts, and its driver, tall, gaunt, with burning eyes, comes up to find the blacksmith to replace a cast shoe. An eager little black face peering from the covered wagon betrays him. It is John Brown; and the pro-slavery blacksmith angrily tefuses to help a “nigger-stealer” on his way. It is a tense moment, as the team moves slowly off; but a motherly woman, running after the wagon with her batch of cookies for the hungry boys, expresses the simple human kindness which knows no difference between black skin or white, whose one impulse is to help the needy anywhere. It is late afternoon of a summer day a year or two later. A steamboat whistle has sent men, women and children hastening to the landing, for the arrival of a river boat is a great event. Now they troop gayly back, to prepare for a deck-dance in the evening. The dance music is soon heard, and laughter, and moving feet. But a hurrying messenger interrupts the gayety. The neighborhood company has been called to arms, and twenty-five boys march away to the war at their country’s call. Before the Spirit of the Place there passes a chorus of youths and maidens, white-robed, singing of peace and plenty; the war is over and men’s eyes are once more turned with hope toward the future. As the song dies away, a little group of Methodists, sturdy pioneers of the church, approaches, seeking a site for the school they mean to found. The site is chosen,—a wooded hill-top overlooking the sweep of river,—and dedicated to the high enterprise with simple, hopeful words of prayer. As the school grows, a new vision is conceived in the hearts of the founders,—a dream that here young men and women may be trained to a life of service as teachers. I? seems only a dream; the task is too great for the struggling church of the vicinity; but the young state steps forward, and receives the trust at the hands of the church. So the founders’ vision is realized. On a summer morning the Spirit of the Place watches students assemble before the school. Here, under the trees, they have gathered to hid God-speed to two of their number, who are ready to commence their life work. The simple ceremony comes to and end. the audience is gone, and the Spirit of the Place beckons the two graduates to come up to him. Then he summons the wild things they have known so well,—the grasses, the wild flowers, the birds and butterflies,—to bear them company. And, so companioned, the two go forth into the world, blessed as they go by the Spirit of the Place. Abba Willard Bowen. iDi7

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