Socialize

Facebook

Over hill and dale, memories live on

Former Ray Countian retraces her past, through county roads and pastures to Lillard School

Mary and Al Schroeder visited the family farmhouse on Triple Springs Road to lead a visual tour of the site of her former one-room schoolhouse, pastures she crossed to walk there and a road where she and classmates stopped to etch their names in an outcropping of stone. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

Mary and Al Schroeder visited the family farmhouse on Triple Springs Road to lead a visual tour of the site of her former one-room schoolhouse, pastures she crossed to walk there and a road where she and classmates stopped to etch their names in an outcropping of stone. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

By David Knopf/News Editor

It’s more than 60 years since Mary Schroeder left Ray County, seven decades-plus since she walked from the family farm to and from the one-room Lillard School.

But she preserves the memories in her heart, her mind and in a scrapbook whose pages she turns one by one in the front seat of a car, bringing the contents to life with stories.

The daughter of Elnora and Forest “Pete” Dugan, Mary was driven to the farm and house at the intersection of Triple Springs Road and Southpoint Drive. The family still owns the home and some of the property, and she’s come with her husband, Al, and their son and driver, Mike, to lead a tour.

As she travels the roads, she gestures left and right, pointing out impressions through the trees where the old roads used to run. Things have changed, but she remembers the way they were in impressive detail.

When she walked to the Lillard School, the route was long enough, even as a crow flies. So she shortened the trip to and from school by cutting through farmers’ pastures, fording creeks and generally forsaking roads for the most direct route possible.

The farmers didn’t mind, she said, and sometimes offered her water or a sweet peach from one of their trees. She was known for whistling to herself while she walked.

It was a different time, and a little girl – she was at Lillard from 2nd through 5th grade and back again for 8th grade – could walk with no concern for “stranger danger,” carefree as she took in the lush vegetation, hilly terrain and grazing animals.

Seventy-something years later, when she saw a Richmond News photo of a tractor pulling a trailer up a curved incline along Southpoint Drive, she knew exactly where it was taken.

“Of course, I recognized the location immediately,” she said in beautifully neat handwritten letter. “The turn in the background is a grove of locust trees. I lived about one-half mile due east of there at the bottom of a long downhill lane, over a creek, through another grove of locust trees in a small farmhouse with a large barn and a chicken house.”

The family lived there before it moved to Triple Springs Road, but Mary can still point to a modern metal gate at the entrance to the lane she described, recalling how her mother sent her down the hill to pick up the mail.

The complete story is in the Thursday, July 23, 2015 Richmond News.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login