Contributed photo
The Carlisle country school brick schoolhouse was one of a number of old country schools that served residents across Otter Tail County a number of years ago.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Retired Carlisle area farmer Hans Ronnevik recalls springtime as a time to clean up the school yard including the big ball field just north of the brick schoolhouse at Carlisle Township in western Otter Tail County. 

Back in the 1950s the ball diamond, with a big backstop behind it, faced the road north of the school yard and occasionally someone would hit a ball across the road.

“When the appointed day came, we all brought our gloves, rakes, maybe a spade and whatever else was needed for the job,” Ronnevik said.  “We would line up with our rakes across the whole lawn. Soon we had long rows of dead grass, leaves and any garbage that was in our path to gather up in piles and burn on the road.”

When cleanup was finished it signaled the beginning of the softball season in earnest.

“When it warmed up in the springtime, or maybe it was on warm fall days, I recall going on hikes to study nature for science classes. We would sometimes walk westward for a little less than a mile to Lake Oscar to collect shells, crayfish, vegetation and other items that we could study.”

Other times they would walk north for a longer distance to some small lakes and sloughs on some Sethre land. Ronnevik recalls being tired on the return trip carrying specimens that might have included small jars of murky lake water full of living things to study the next day.

Other memorable events, as noted by Ronnevik in the new book “Farmsteads and Old Neighborhoods,” included taking a train trip, likely just for grades 5 through 8. 

One classmate, Larry Johnson, recalled being so excited about this that he hardly slept a wink the night before. In the morning, the Red River passenger train made a special stop for Ronnevik, Johnson and their classmates at the Carlisle train depot and took them to Minneapolis. 

“We then boarded a tour bus that took us to the State Capitol, Fort Snelling and to the Ford Motor Company assembly plant, among other places of interest,” Ronnevik said. “I’m sure we had a lot to talk about on our train trip back to Carlisle later that day, and we were likely very tired.”