CORNIE LOEWEN (1926-1994)
Most people with at least a minimum formal education will later on in life refer back to their schoolteacher as a person of major influence in life. The ministry of the public school teacher should never be underestimated.
We have seen teachers come and go here in the Riverside area. Some have only taught briefly. Others stayed for many years. For some this community was more of a stopping place. To others it became a major part of their lives.
One of those who stayed longer was Mr. George P. Goosen. After arriving to teach at the Rosenhoff South School in 1933, as a single person but almost immediately getting married, he stayed for two decades. Many of us had only him as a teacher in elementary school.
Those of us who sat under his teaching ministry somehow kept our sense of awe and respect for him through the years that followed. We looked forward to celebrating this reunion with him. It was not to be. He passed away a few months ago at the age of 87 years.
Memories will linger on. The influence that Mr. Goosen left in his students will continue on. He and Sadie, his wife, worked together. A man is remembered for what he has done and for who he was. Certain aspects of Mr. Goosen stand apart. He lived by a very definite maxim:
"Good, better, best, never let it rest
Till the good is better and the better best."
He expected the best of his students. Mediocrity was not acceptable. Everything was to be the very best whether it was the three R's or singing, crafts or playing. We were taught to behave in class and out. He disciplined his disciples and he expected obedience. Younger and older were aware that no rebels would be left unchallenged.
Judging by the numbers of pastors, ministers, deacons, missionaries and other Christian ministers that have emerged from his student body it seems evident that his efforts were not fruitless. He taught character.
Mr. and Mrs. Goosen were both active in extra-curricular activities. They gave themselves unstintingly to teach crafts: sewing and knitting for girls and woodworking for boys. Today many a mother can thankfully remember Mrs. Goosen as the one who started them off in the skills of knitting and sewing. Many of us learned the basics of carpentry from our former teacher. He taught singing in school although by his own admission he was no professional. Christmas programs were always a highlight of the year.
Again, we must confess, that Mr. Goosen believed in the work ethic in school. Time was not to be squandered. Overseeing eight grades did not daunt him. He kept his eye on all of us and we knew it.
So this afternoon we pay tribute to one who influenced many individuals towards excellence. His students are scattered over a large part of the globe. His work is done. We must carry on.
LEVI DUECK 1930-
How many hours of diligent study were spent in our schools! If you multiply a six-hour day by 200 days in the school year, and then by 25 pupils (attending our school in 1939), you get 30,000 hours. What a wealth of knowledge! I can personally testify that, on the whole, these were enjoyable hours as science, literature, and maths had their humble beginnings in our lives.
My only teacher was Mr. George P. Goosen, a no-nonsense man who was able to do a good job of getting through to his pupils. Using his own shop tools, his manual training classes in woodwork were quite productive. We were able to sell our finished articles at the annual "mission" auction sale held in our school. For this we received a part of the selling price. Mrs. Goosen taught the girls to sew and knit, for which she received a small remuneration from the school district.
Music was another specialty with Mr. Goosen, and his students sang with excellent harmony. Every year during Advent, a large slice of the time went into preparations for a good Christmas program. It was "Sing, sing, sing" to get the melody and timing just right; recite over and over to get the proper tone of voice in the poems and the plays. When finally the big day arrived and parents came to hear the program, many of us had a nervous stomach, and some even suffered a relapse in our style of presentation, or (worse yet) a blank memory. However, Mr. Goosen always had a Christmas present for us when the program was over, and the school always supplied a paper bag of goodies.
Learning helps in school included a strap, the Book of Knowledge, a globe, and three or four pull-down-over-the-blackboard maps. One of these was acquired by the united effort of all the students collecting Neilson's chocolate bar wrappers.
I always felt underprivileged because I could not contribute many wrappers (bars were scarce at our house). We also had a good pencil sharpener in the classroom, and a good supply of ink for our desk-top ink-wells. These wells were not immune to spills, and many a scribbler had big blue stains by the end of the school year. Science equipment was meagre, consisting of a burner, some chemicals, and test tubes.
Spelling bees were always the cause of excitement when teams were chosen and lined up on opposite sides of the schoolroom. The lines dwindled as the words meted out progressively harder. Finally, there were only two anxious students left to battle it out, and one of these must of necessity lose the battle.
Another activity that resulted in a great deal of agonizing was blackboard arithmetic. The rules of the game were simple: Do your math in record time while honour-bound not to peek at your neighbours answers. No calculators for us!
Recess time was also a learning time, but of this we were blissfully unaware. We loved football (now called soccer), softball, dodgeball, ante-over, prisoner's base, king of the citain, and a host of other games. Rainy days meant "London Bridge" would be "falling down" (indoors).
Once a year, (on Mr. Goosen's birthday), we had a giant birthday party for all. Older students were responsible to bring cookies, cake, or maybe even ice-cream. What luxury !!
A vivid winter picture comes to mind of the time Mr. Peter C. Loewen had a hard time controlling his sleigh horses. Rounding the corner onto the school yard resulted in the box sleigh tipping over into the snow, spilling us all. Mr. Loewen, however, had a tight grip on those reins, and slid along behind the horses on his stomach till he finally had them under control. I wonder if his mackinaw lost some buttons?
MRS. John REMPEL nee Warkentin circa 1930
Eleanor was the daughter of the John F. Warkentins.
Our family moved fairly often due to financial reasons, so our attendance at Rosenhoff South with Mr. Goosen was only a few years: 1938-41. We had already been told that learning under this teacher would be different. He had a reputation of being a disciplinarian, his teaching methods structured and enforced, but nobody told us these high standards would teach us more than any other school that we'd ever be attending.
Mr. Goosen would have made the perfect classroom lecturer in university or college. Even in any young years it impressed me how, when the occasion called for it, he would close all books and just talk. Some topics clearly remembered dealt with "cleanliness", predictions of the future and respect. Cleanliness: from personal hygiene, "wash your hands with soup, go to sleep early and with fresh air if possible, when blowing your nose always use a hankie!, the other unnamed method being used in front of the school has got to stop!" to doing dishes the sanitary way at home, "hot rinse, self drying is much cleaner than the towel drying method" He touched on so many of our every day situations it made us feel self-conscious - but we learned.
Future predictions: our eyes and mouths must have popped open because of the astounding things Mr. Goosen said. Cars, machinery, in fact all vehicles would change in style and operation. Future wars (World War II included) would be waged with horrible weapons. What stuck in my childish mind was "1984". There didn't seem to be any particularly big events predicted for that year, but the many smaller one combined with the progression of civilization in all areas, it didn't seem possible, to us, that the world would still function. We definitely wouldn't want to be in it, much lessen joy it! Inventions of telescopes would make the solar constellations fascinating. It scared and fascinated us -- but we learned.
Respect for other people and property: one day the Goosens were visiting our next-door neighbours and as soon as we realized this we began drawing attention to ourselves. Just to be noticed by our "teacher" we skipped, sang and played noisy games more heartily than usual. Within the next few days, sure enough, came a lecture on" respecting the privacy of neighbours". We took this personally and felt embarrassed -but we learned.
One warm sunny day recess was just over and we hop, skipped and jumped back into school. I pranced along my desk seat with shoes on, got caught and promptly the whole class was told how "not to "treat our desks or other school property. Surely we'd want to be proper adults, and respecting or caring for things that had cost others a lot of money was very important. I felt a fool-but I learned.
Another day, unexpectedly, it was accounting time. It had become almost away of life for us students to write and pass notes to each other, because talking was strictly forbidden. The first order of business for that day was clipped out in a foreboding voice, "It has come to my attention there is a communication network going here and we'll get to the bottom of this. Clean out all notes from your desks and bring them forward." The younger students were their noisy selves at recess but us older ones stood around in small groups, whispering assurances that we'd really not written anything "bad" -- maybe silly -- but "bad"? Then we'd remember this or that-written in confidence to our best friend of the day -- in the eyes of our teacher it would sound terrible, wouldn't it?? Oh the misery of being found out, guilt written all over each of us. That day our chatter and grownup pretending was missing. In time spankings and punishments were handed out, new rules set up-and a searing lecture on such a despicable practice. Teachers, parents and all authority figures demanded respect, whether we liked it or not. We sniffled and repented-and we learned.
Mr. George Goosen represented high standards in learning, discipline and music. We learned many, many practical issues of life not found in books, but in my own life, the discovery of music must be the greatest thing. I learned start off with the average normal childhood singing in single voice. Progress into drawing lines, treble clef, staff, notes --and "each has a name!?!"--bars, beats to a measure, and four part harmony. Oh the joy and challenge of it. Songbooks were handed out. "Revival Glory" had a new feature-- shaped notes. Now we were in the "big league", learning new songs entirely on our own. On certain days these were performed before Mr. Goosen and he would make sure it had been learned correctly. One favourite song we learned and sang repeatedly in all part harmony was "I will Meet You in the Morning". The greatest accomplishment was the construction, from scratch, of our own songs. The music had to be entirely our own drawn and illustrated on the board, notes, measures, timing, etc. This required concentration on detail and once that was done, the words to the tune came almost automatically. At the time I thought mine was just great. "We should always have a smiling face, because this world is such a happy place." Whatever role music has played in my life had its direct beginning under the expert Mr. Goosen. How joyfully we learned.
History and geography were always my favourite book subjects, maybe because reading material was very scarce in our home. This was one way of learning about the world and our surroundings, plus drawing maps and graphs was required. Mr. Goosen being such a fluent speaker detailed these subjects into exciting class times. Arithmetic brings up feelings of terror. This must have been due to the missed classes, not Mr. Goosen's teaching. One exam had questions that I had never even heard of and when I timidly walked up to teacher 's desk to ask whether we were-actually expected to know answers to something we hadn't even touched on, he remarked coolly "maybe you missed the class". I hadn't thought of that. Perfect attendance was needed to learn perfectly.
Christmas programs, with recitations, skits, singing - and the decorations was always a thrilling time. Practises took up a lot of time, lessening study periods -- but who minded! One year a lot of sickness made the rounds. While standing in my spot up front, singing, I had my first experience of sudden nausea, surprising blackness blocking out my vision and in desperation asked to be excused. In the washroom, sitting down, all symptoms vanished, and when I related it to Mom that evening she said, "That's about as close to fainting - without falling down - as you'll ever get." -Mr. Goosen inspired doing your best - and best it would be --if at all possible.
One Christmas we got glass dishes as a gift from the teacher. How we treasured something beautiful, not just practical. Appreciation for beauty and good performance was learned as if it would become a natural part of everyone's life. Christmas meant rustling paper bags and mixed sweets. "Do not open until you're out of here", we were told and nobody presumed to do otherwise.
Picnic meant competitions that brought me more tension than fun -- but later - hard ice-cream cones and tables of food.
During the year Mr. Goosen would challenge good results by many different award systems. Spelling bees with some visiting parents listening in would be exciting -- winning was an award in itself. Wood work -- I learned how not to paint the second coat until the first had dried. Hand sewing -- Mrs. Goosen taught us and it was a novelty to me. I was determined to win one of those prizes. When some aprons were finished us girls were told not to come in during recess because the sewing would be judged and displayed with a prize on the best ones. As we walked back in I saw a lovely glass dish on what I thought was my sewing.
Hurrah! Before I could reach it another girl claimed it as hers. How could I have been so mistaken? And yet they were all so alike. Walking home slowly I took that apron apart, visually and puzzled, I turned right around and marched all the way back. Mrs. Goosen was very fair in looking at the two aprons again, one in my hands and the other in the prize winner's hands. She had sewn some perfect, even stitches on my original apron when she started off teaching us and it was her proof of it being mine. It says a lot for a teacher when results have to be so closely monitored and double checked, all being so good.
What stands out in my mind when reminiscing about these few school years under Mr. Goosen? Learning! We moved on to attend a multi-roomed public school in Morris and after the first day I was in tears. How could anyone do any learning in such an atmosphere?
How I missed the discipline and high standards of Mr. Goosen's school at Rosenhoff S.D. -Eleanor Rempel
MRS. FRANK LOEWEN 1937-
Doreen was born to Cornelius Eidse in 1937.
In grade 4, Ralph and I walked several miles to Rosenhoff South School as Rosenhoff North was overfull. Gallant Ralph would carry both of our lunch kits, and on cold days I would follow behind him, trudging off to school, an ink-stained wretch. Brother Eddy would come for us with a team of horses when the weather was too severe to walk in winter. In summer Ralph and I would drive the blue Ford puddle-jumper to school with the top down.
WALTER DUECK 1938-2000
School Days at Rosenhoff South
Actually, it is surprising how many pleasant memories I have of my sojourn at Rosenhoff. Surprising because I do not remember liking school at all!
But I do remember how impressed I was by the Christmas diorama, carefully reassembled every year showing wise men on camels, shepherds with their sheep, several light bulbs behind the scene giving light to stars shining in a blue crepe paper heaven, and a huge star with rays pointing to the cave where Jesus was born.
I remember rehearsals for the Christmas concert, definitely more fun than studying Mathematics, grammar or Katechismus. And the concert itself was the highlight of the year, always opening with the singing of "Deinen Konigsthron" and ending with the distribution of "tutjes" which we were always cautioned not to open until we were out of the building. And the concert always included a reading of Lukas 2 in German by Mr. Goosen, as a result of which I can still recite a good part of it from memory.
I remember singing periods, when Mr. Goosen would give us out notes from a pitch pipe, then beat the time on a front desk, and we would sing in four-part harmony. We learned to read music. We learned new songs by note, not rote. The older girls would copy music on the board and we would learn the tune using sol-fa syllables. Some things I have learned to appreciate more as time has removed me farther away.
How I marvel now at the skills Mr. Goosen managed to teach us, some 30 or more students in 9 grades. We learned German so well that my M.C.I. German teacher wrote at the bottom of my first high school German composition: "Du muss einen guten, sehr guten Lehrer haben!" Since I have become a teacher, I realize more and more how right she was. We learned good independent study habits that I still find valuable in my work as well as my studies.
We learned woodwork. For one project the boys went out to measure the latest model Massey combine and then built it carefully to scale, and we learned knitting. Yes, the boys, too! I remember working on a scarf, although I don't remember using it after it was finished.
I remember going out to play soccer in winter, in all kinds of weather, sometimes with the wind so strong we had a hard time keeping up with the ball being blown across the yard in the swirling snow. And who can forget those long noon hours skating on the nearby river or toboganning down its banks? And those long tunnels connecting several spacious rooms dug in those 8 foot prairie snowbanks?
There were always 3 sets of exams: Christmas, Easter, and finals. And during exam time, one blackboard was always dedicated to a display of all the marks of all the students. Failing marks were always in red! One of my rnost embarrassing moments came when a red number (I think it was a 32) appeared beside my name for grade 4 music. That was the first and last failing mark I ever suffered in my academic pursuits!
There were other memorable occasions: One morning after Halloween we looked upriver from the school yard to see a buggy suspended under the bridge. One morning upon entering the school, we saw part of a human finger, ghastly white, lying on the workbench. The night before, a young man had been using Mr. Goossen's power tools and had lost the ends of two fingers. Then one day at recess all the children stopped playing to watch a bright new green AR John Deere go put-putting by with my dad at the wheel. He had timed it just right! We were the envy of all the other children and Mr. Goosen said it must be nice to be rich.
Then there were the times it was too stormy to go home after school and we had to stay overnight with the Bartels or the Goossens to experience excitingly different customs, games, foods and beds!
I believe pupils attending one-room country schools gained something special that more than compensates for some of the disadvantages. And somehow I think that Rosenhoff South, with Mr. Goosen, was more special than most!
MRS. DAVE REMPEL 1938-
Helen was born to the Peter D. Harms family of Rosenhoff in 1938, the eleventh of twelve children. She attended Rosenhoff South and Rosenhoff North School in the 1940's. The following is excerpted from an interview notes on Rosenort: A Mennonite Community 2.
"My teacher from Grade 1-3 was Mr. George Goosen, (South) then a Mr. Jansen (North) and later some lady teachers. There were grades one to eight (in one room). We usually had Bible reading and a prayer in the morning before classes. At that time when the bell rang you sat down in your seat and you stayed at your desk until the next recess, unless the teacher called the whole class up for reading or something. Other than that we didn't walk around or work in groups. You'd sit unless you were reading. Then you'd stand beside your desk. Usually if we were caught whispering or talking we were punished.
I learned to embroider when I was in Grade 1. Many winters I did a lot of embroidery. One of our teachers taught us to do a crossstitch on a burlap sack. And we made beautiful pillow tops out of them. Then later I learned to crochet.
We lived a mile and a half away from school. In winter, Dad would hitch up the horses with the sleigh and take us to school that way. In school (Christmas) was really exciting because we always got to put on a real terrific program. Dialogues, plays, etc. So we practiced for this for months. Then all the parents were invited, and all the parents came. Everyone did ! We always got a gift from the teacher and a bag of goodies, which was loaded with peanuts, some candies and usually a big apple.
We usually had a tobogganing party one a year. I think this usually happened on Valentine's Day. That day we always brought a special lunch with special lunch with special goodies and we all had lunch together. The school picnic was THE occasion. In those days, soft drinks and ice-cream were uncommon, and this was the day we would get a good feed of ice-cream and then kool-aid. Then we also had a nice program for school closing. One song we always sang was, "Happy School Days".