Recalling school days at St. Peter's
One hundred years ago, St. Peter's School was at the intersection of Northwest Highway and Highland Avenue.
In the front of the first/second grade combined classroom, teacher Rudolph Kranz had drawn two large chalk circles on the floor. One circle was for kids who did not know their lessons. This area was known as the "slop-bucket."
The second chalk circle, according to Carl Weinrich, who wrote a description of his school days at St. Peter's, was for kids "who didn't ask to go to the bathroom and then had an accident." They were "made to stand in that circle, holding a stick with a string and a hook on the end of it."
Other graduates also tell of heavy discipline at St. Peter's, including students being sent out back to cut switches for the teachers to switch them with. A future mayor of Arlington Heights, Albert Goedke, tossed his fifth-grade texts on the tracks on the way home one day and never went back to school.
Despite the strict discipline, Carl Weinrich's fealty to -- and fondness for -- the Lutheran church and the Lutheran school spills out of the text he wrote about his school days. His essay, "Growing Up Physically and Spiritually at St. Peter Church and School," is replete with fond tales of school programs and experiences he enjoyed.
Carl himself liked comparing his school days when spankings were "common," to those of his children who learned their ABCs in more enlightened times.
In Carl's school time, "starting in first grade, most subjects were taught in the German language. We learned the alphabet, as well as arithmetic and grammar, in both German and English. We learned about the Bible through 'Biblische Geschiehten,' (Bible stories)."
As the children moved into second, third and fourth grades, most subjects were taught in English.
The possibility of a spanking did not keep the more daring kids from pranks. Carl remembered a boy named Charles Weisenbach who had a fetish for annoying teachers. Students were allowed to bring a paper bag to school to carry their lunches. One day, Charles turned up with two bags. He wasn't questioned until during one of the lessons he opened the mystery bag and sparrows flew out in all directions.
Pandemonium ensued. Windows thrown open. Students shrieking. Teacher Frederick Militzer and all the more enterprising students on their feet to chase the startled birds about the room.
No word from Carl on how Charles Weisenbach was punished -- as he surely was -- but there was no repressing Charles' spirit or need for adventure even when there were known consequences.
Once teachers stopped counting the number of paper bags he turned up with in the morning, Charles again secreted contraband around his waist and waited his opportunity.
Once the class was deep into concentration, Charles took his chance, turned his second bag toward the girls' side of the room and opened the way for grasshoppers.
They were soon all over the girls' side of the room. Again, a wild chase ensued. Except no one wanted to grab a grasshopper. And the grasshoppers didn't see the logic of exiting through the windows. It was a wild time.
What's the German word for "Eek?"