Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book
Nichols - Our Town - 1984

Articles on Nichols School Staff

Miss Mayme Foley * Cleve & Julia Hazen * Mrs. Edna Hummel * Loretta Hahn * Marie Kaalberg

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 58-59

In 1952 many Nichols citizens received a post card in the mail. It read:
        “Dear pupil and friend of Miss Mayme Foley,
         “After nearly 50 years of service to our community’s children, Miss Mayme Foley is retiring. We are planning to honor her at a farewell party, Saturday, May 10th, at the Nichols School Gym from 7:30 to 9:00. All are invited to attend…”
         It was the last day of August, 1904, when Miss Mayme Foley walked down the dusty street of Nichols in the sweltering sun to start her new job – teaching the intermediate grades in the Nichols school system.
         In 1952 she finished her last year, still teaching the intermediate grades in the same school system. And in the intervening 48 years, it has become impossible to make an accurate estimate of the number of boys and girls to whom she has taught the three Rs and numerous other subjects.
         “How well I remember that first day in Nichols,” Miss Foley said. “My, but it was hot and dusty! All the farmers were in town weighing grain at the city scales.
         “I had left my home at Letts in the morning and gone to Columbus Junction to catch the train that brought me in here about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I walked down that dusty street carrying my suitcase and stopped to rest a minute and also find out where the secretary of the school board could be located. After all, I had never had a personal interview!
         “I must have passed inspection, because the next morning I had 40 children in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades to teach. Before the year got too far along, I was moved to the fifth and sixth grade room with 30 boys and girls. And I received $30 a month salary that first year.”
         The most exciting memory of her 48 years happened when the old school house burned. “It was in February of 1914,” she recalled. “The building was an old two story white frame school with an attic store room on top. School was just out – it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon – and we were having a teacher’s meeting in the superintendent’s office on the second floor.
         “All at once I smelled some smoke. I asked, but no one else did. However, I went out in the hall to look around, and just then a trap door to the garret in the ceiling burst into flames. I called to the other teachers and rang the school bell. They saved some of the equipment from the office, and everyone in town came running to the school.
         “I think the only thing I saved was the mirror that hangs in the back of my room now. Several other things were rescued, but they have all disappeared in the meanwhile. The men of the town ripped up the seats in all the rooms and threw them out the windows, but they saved them. Some of the same desks that are in my room were in the old school – of course, they’ve been sanded and cleaned several times since then, and you can’t tell them from the others.
         “After the fire, we finished the school year in the Methodist church. Then when school started again in the fall, we had all the grades in the old Opera house. My, that was noisy. But ever since we moved into the new building in 1915, this room I have now has been mine.
         “We moved into this school the day after Thanksgiving in 1915. How well I remember that, because it was the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever had away from home. But we all stayed over to move all day long from the Opera house to the new school.
         “I remember going over to the school before it was finished to look it over. I like lots of light, and immediately picked this room on the southwest corner of the building with all the windows on the south for mine – and here I’ve been ever since.” Miss Foley smiled.
         Miss Foley started to high school at Letts, and then took a normal training course. “Before my high school work was finished I got a special teaching certificate from the state so I could do some substitute teaching in a country school near there.
         “I was very young then, and I don’t know how I did it. There were 22 boys and one girl in that school and some of the boys in the eighth grade were lots bigger than I was. Why, they were 20 and 21 years old. But I made them mind!
         “I’ve never had less than 30 youngsters since I started teaching here, and many times I’ve had as many as 38 or 40 in my room. And my ‘youngsters’ are now located all over the world doing almost every kind of work imaginable. Why, during the World Wars, I had letters from all over the world.
         “And among my ‘treasures’ is the nicest letter of appreciation which I received from the school board here after I turned in my resignation this spring. Two of the men on the school board now, Bob Chown and Ben Nichols, are some of my pupils!
         “During my recent illness the nurses would tease me because I got so much mail. When I was in the hospital this last winter, I had cards and letters from every teacher and superintendent I ever taught with – and lots of flowers and gifts besides,” Miss Foley remembered.
         “That’s one thing I want to do after I retire – I want to look over every one of the almost 200 cards and letters I received this winter. I’ve always had the best boys and girls in my room, and they’ve all been so good to remember me. And the community as a whole has been wonderful to me.
         “I’ve come to think of the Walter Morris home as my home, too. I’ve been rooming there for 23 years with the same people.
         “When I finish here this month, I think I’ll stay with my sister and brother, Agnes and Matt Foley, in Muscatine, most of the time. But I’ll visit my other sister, Mrs. J. R. Brookhart, in West Liberty, too.
         “This winter after I came back from being in the hospital, I walked into my room again and there were those 33 little faces looking up at me – just waiting for me to get back. Those youngsters came to me and told me that day, ‘Don’t get sick any more, Miss Foley. We missed you.’ “
~ Photo - page 58

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 59
By Loretta Hahn and Renee Mills

         Cleve Hazen started working at the Nichols school in 1944. He had been working at odd jobs around Nichols, when someone asked him if he’d be interested in working as a janitor at the school. His wages were $1.00 an hour.
         He worked every day, except Sunday. In the winter he would sleep in the furnace room and feed the fires to keep the pipes from freezing. Julia would bring him supper and he’d save half for breakfast.
         Julia started working at the school as a cook in 1946. She was also a laundress, and got up at 4:00 a.m. to do some of the laundry before she went to school at 8:00.
         Julie retired in 1954 and Cleve retired in 1958.

Mrs. Hummel Honored
Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 64
By Loretta Hahn and Renee Mills

         24 May 1973 - A farewell reception honoring Mrs. Edna Hummel was held at the Nichols School Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. The courtesy was sponsored by the fourth grade mothers who alternated at presiding at the guest book.
         Mrs. Hummel’s sisters, Mrs. Edith Newton and Mrs. Alice Hillyer of Nichols and Mrs. Martha Hafner of Davenport, took turns pouring coffee and punch at the tea table. It was centered with an arrangement of roses and candles, with red napkins and various colored mints on either side. Cookies were served, also.
         A money tree was on a table along with an original poem written especially for Mrs. Hummel. There were also pictures of all the classes Mrs. Hummel has taught in her fourteen years of teaching fourth grade at Nichols.

written for Mrs. Hummel by Sandra Green,
mother of fourth grader, Charlena Lynch

Everyone has shoes – they’re no special treat,
They’re made of different materials and they cover your feet.

We all know shoes run, skip, and walk,
But lets just pretend that they can also talk.

These are very big shoes in a nice sort of way,
And I think they have something special to say.

We have seen many days in this school,
And I’m sure we could recite every golden rule.

We have trudged to school in rain, sleet, and snow,
We have seen many children expand and grow.

We’re held a person sometimes tough!
But this person really cares and is made of very good stuff!

If we could – we would shout very, very loud!
We’re the shoes of Mrs. Hummel and we are very, very

Loretta Hahn now serving third generation at Nichols school
Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 59

         22 November 1979 - Loretta Hahn has spent many hours in the Nichols school kitchen, ever since the hot lunch program started in 1946. Her father, Cleve Hazen, built the first lunch tables and benches from scratch. The tables consisted of two boards and the benches were one. Her mother, Julie, worked with her. The two spent many mornings peeling mountains of potatoes by hand and cooking the 65 meals on a gas range that had just two burners. Then the school changed from coal heat, Loretta moved the kitchen in to the coal bin where it remains today. Before that time, the kitchen was against one wall of the lunch room.
         Not equipped with the warming trays they have today, Loretta and her mother would bring their own pans filled with hot water to hold the pots of food in. The numbers of meals went up to a peak of 250 as the country schools closed their doors and the students were bused into Nichols. When Nichols consolidated with West Liberty, the number of meals went down to about 150. At one time she worked at the now closed Rice’s Café during the evenings, as well as at the school during the days.
         In 1962 Hahn graduated from the first class of an Iowa certifying school lunch short course. At the 1976 annual meeting of the American School Food Service Association in Honolulu, Hawaii, Loretta was awarded a plaque in recognition of her 30 years of dedicated service to the youth of America.
         Hahn says she will miss all the children when she finally hangs up her apron and spoon. She says the lunch room is filled with many fond memories, including the ones when she would have to pull loose baby teeth from the students.
~ Photo:
Loretta Hahn has been cooking at the Nichols school since 1946 and during that time has served three generations of students. Melody Mills ate Mrs. Hahn’s cooking as a student, as her daughter, Carrie Mills, now does. Both of Carrie’s grandfathers, George Smith and Vic Mills were also Nichols students who ate Loretta’s cooking. Pictured here, Melody and Carrie watch Loretta prepare a turkey for the school’s Thanksgiving lunch.

Open house planned for Nichols teacher
Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 64

         Nichols, 1983 – An open house honoring retiring school teacher Marie Kaalberg is planned for Sunday from 1-4 p.m. in the Nichols Elementary School gymnasium.
         Kaalberg has taught second grade at the Nichols school for the past 24 years.
         The open house is sponsored by the Apropos Junior Federated Club and the Nichols Community Club.

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