Sixty years ago twenty one seniors graduated from Exeter High School. The “forty niners” we called ourselves. The majestic Eagle, a symbol of our country, was our mascot.
It has been said that you can take a person out of the community in which they were raised but you can’t take the community out of them. We all can remember our historical roots. I want to thank all the town fathers and mothers who gave to each of us, so much, in so many ways. As such I think of the businesses, school districts, and neighbors. Believe me what you did has stayed with me over the years!
We lived in an era where there could be ten communities in every county and now a community could be an entire county if not more. We lived close to the confluence of Saline, Fillmore, York and Seward counties which was a great blessing. I received so much from Cordova where I went to church, Fairmont, McCool, Waco. Grafton, and Seward. I remember with fondness the dances in Burress as well as the delicious kolaches in Milligan. Geneva was our county seat. York and Friend had sale barns and hospitals to which we went. All of these communities were small but small is beautiful. I have lived in small communities almost all my life and while I no longer do, I miss them.
We remember our class mates-we were twenty one who graduated. There aren’t any one of us living there now. We have all left. Eight of the original twenty one are buried in Exeter and Cordova. My plans are for burial close to my grand parents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Zastrow Cemetery near Cordova. I will be returning to my roots so to speak. Ten of the guys in our class served in the military service. Dale Rasmussen gave the ultimate sacrifice for our Country as he died as an instructor of airplanes in the early sixties.
As we gather together on May 23rd for the alumni banquet in Exeter of this year, our number will be smaller than it was in 1949 but all will be remembered by name and in memories.
Of the 21 we graduated with four were Beckers Lela Ann, (attending), Bert, Alice (attending) and Gaylord (attending). There were two Harres-Matt and Jerome. There were two Kaedings-Ila Jean and Josephine. Ila Jean Kaeding was later to marry Jim Harre which makes 3 Harres.. There were two Erdkamps-Richard and Rose Marie (attending). There are three spouses attending-Marilue Becker, Robert Lovegrove, and Bethine Lief.
There were four Danes-Richard Thompsen, Dale Rassmussen, Keith Nielsen and myself. Three live out of state-Keith Nielsen, Richard Rayer, and Bert Becker. One of us still lives in Fillmore County-Shirley Dyer Lovegrove.
We remember those who have died-Bob Leif, Donald Chapman, Jerome Harre, Mathias Harre, Richard Edkamp, Dale Rassmussen, Kenneth Wilger, and Richard Thompsen. We think of Cecilia Peschel Powell, and Colleen Kelly Blessing as well. There were 13 guys and 8 gals. Eight have died and 13 are still living.
What I experienced as a boy growing up in this community has stayed with me all my years and I want to thank all the people who made it possible-people whose names are remembered in my and your thoughts.
P.S. I wished I had told everyone about the time we were initiated as freshmen and as the boys left we had to go through a line of senior boys who ringed the school. If we got caught we got de-pantsed. The next morning Dale Rasmussen’s pants hung from the flag pole. Do you remember that? I would like to hear more stories like that, that you remember.
It was the kind of spring day of which Nebraska is famous. It was a little dryer than anyone would want it but I was later to learn it rained from .75 to 2 inches in places, Note the exact amount.
Hans R. Nelson
Hans R. Nelson