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'And the class of '57 had its dreams ...'

The human fascination with history

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Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes.
Echo Journal File Photo
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Listening to The Statler Brothers on YouTube singing their 1972 recording of “The Class of ’57 ...” It’s just a song about the passage of time; not specifically sad.

But it does hint of regret, lost plans and schemes, missed chances, along with reflections on the good times.

Truthfully, it is life as most of us know it.

A fascination for the past seems to be built into human DNA. Even without a historical or genealogical society to prod interest in past lives and events, people keep themselves attached to old stories and traditions.

The past in all its glory and sporting all its warts is available to us on demand all over the internet. We can take it fully documented or fact free.

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All we have to do is bring to mind a happy time, a name, a fragrance, a trying time … and run with it.

The intention of local history groups is to tap into that interest and build a following that will in turn support the efforts of the organization in collecting accurate information and making it available to those who are looking for knowledge and asking questions.

Education is our goal. And I don’t mean the formal kind where you sit at desks and take notes, but the informal kind that makes facts and artifacts accessible to everyone.

The more information we collect and archive, the more artifacts we display in the museum, the more questions we can answer and the better we are armed in the drive to understand who we are, where we came from and where we are going.

Might be going; should be going; could be going if only …

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Presently on hand in our Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society Museum is a senior class annual from Nebraska State Normal School in Peru, Nebraska — The 1920 Peruvian, Volume XIII.

According to the banner on nearly every page in the book, this is the golden anniversary edition of the annual and presumably the 50th class to graduate.

The book is printed in black and white. Its pages are not decorated with handwritten signatures and goodbyes. It has been handled well enough over its century(!) of existence and it is intact and a pleasure to examine.

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The pages are embellished according to the art nouveau style of the day, edging into the art deco style, which was just around the corner.

The borders and dividers are charmingly done, and they enhance perfectly the beautiful photographs. The faculty, the students, the sports and activities; the poses, the hairstyles, the fashions of the day set this album squarely in the early 20th century.

It’s a beautiful book, and even though it doesn’t appear to be Pequot-related, it has value in the broader sense of history to be found outside our immediate area.

It is the looking back that is important here; the connections that exist between the present and the past in general.

It so happens that Peru, Nebraska, is a lovely little town located on the Missouri River in the southeastern corner of the state, around 60 miles south of Lincoln.

Nebraska’s first state college opened in Peru in 1867 and continues to educate students to this day. About 2,500 of them attend yearly, as a matter of fact, and they clearly outnumber the population of Peru, Nebraska, which totals only 636!

Those two numbers add up to a whole lot of interesting questions, don’t they?

People living in Peru, Nebraska, and Pequot Lakes are most likely not aware of one another, and that’s all right. The fact that the 1920 Peruvian resides in our museum, though, has to mean there’s a connection somewhere along the line.

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Karen Bye is vice president of the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society and loves history.

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