Pine River School history on display at Historic Depot
Sports memorabilia, old lesson books and much more adorn tables at the Historic Railway Depot
Letter jacket patches from pre-1932, an 1863 arithmetic book, a 1953 band uniform, athletic team photos and yearbooks everywhere.
That is what visitors will see if they visit the historic Pine River Depot on Fridays until Sept. 24. That's because this year Heritage Group North put a different spin on its "Lost Pine River" event.
" There's a small collection of things that were Ruth Mary Johnson's. She graduated in 1932 and her daughter brought them in. To me it shows a continuity of the community from generation that these were saved and the family still lives here."
— Annette Houg.
This year's "Celebration of Schools" themed event had too much history to fit into just one evening-long event. Instead, HGN decided to use an exhibit format and keep the historical items on display Fridays during the Pine River Market Square farmers and crafters market, as well as by reservation.
So far one of the most popular exhibits is the athletic photos display right in the entryway.
"We have a lot of 1950s, '60s and '70s photos, so a lot of people who are still in the area come in and see themselves or relatives there," said organizer Annette Houg.
Houg is particularly fond of another exhibit connected to Pine River athletics - letter jacket patches.
"There's a small collection of things that were Ruth Mary Johnson's," Houg said. "She graduated in 1932 and her daughter brought them in. To me, it shows a continuity of the community from generations that these were saved and the family still lives here."
Houg also likes the 1950s band uniform Deb Oliver donated. Oliver found it while she operated a business out of the former Pfeiffer drug store building. There is a photo of Joe Pfeiffer wearing an identical (possibly the same) uniform among the other exhibits.
These are not the oldest exhibits. That honor goes to the time-worn and well-used lesson books in one case, specifically an 1863 arithmetic book Merle Dabill donated some time ago.
HGN has also set up a sort of re-creation of a 1901 one-room schoolhouse featuring mannequin stand-ins for "Miss Pick," a real Pine River teacher, along with Rachel and Robert Kinler as children. The layout is inspired by a historical photo featuring those same individuals.
" We have a lot of 1950s, 60s and 70s photos, so a lot of people who are still in the area come in and see themselves or relatives there."
— Annette Houg.
As well as the physical exhibits, Pine River School history is also on display. HGN members and volunteers poured over Pine River Journal archives, the "Cass County Centennial" book, the "Logsleds to Snowmobiles" book and piles of yearbooks to piece together the ever-changing history of the school as it grew and moved to where it is today.
All of this, and more, is available to view from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Fridays until Sept. 24 or by appointment by calling Houg at 320-309-3700.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.