Awarded St. Ignatius Gold Medal by Azov Academy, Russia
Clayton Davis (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ХХ1 centuries)
graduated from Syracuse University BA 1967, Russian Studies.
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Clayton Davis Severna Park, Maryland
Clayton Davis lives with his wife in Severna Park, Maryland. He holds the Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor ratings with more than 10,000 hours logged in everything from gliders to jets. He has published flying stories in aviation magazines and many short stories elsewhere. He has publi...
By Clayton Davis
As told by Irene (Brink) Davis
Sixty years ago students overcame much adversity and took it in stride, just another day in South Dakota. Something like a blizzard did not cause them all that much worry.
Eight children were just finishing lunch when a loud knock was heard on the school door. It was a one-room school named Brink School.
Victor Brink was at the door. All the children turned in surprise and looked. This was unusual, especially way out in the country.
"Pardon me, ma'am. I've come for my daughter, Irene."
"What's wrong?" The teacher asked.
"Look out the window."
The building had full length windows on the north side and small windows high up on the east and west walls. The school door opened from the south side. There were cloak rooms on either side, boys and girls separate. The blackboard and pull down maps were on the east side.
A wide stairway led to the basement on the south side near the door. The basement was where students went for recess in bad weather. Over in one corner was the furnace and coal supply.
There were two indoor bathrooms that did not work. Students were forced to use the outdoor privies, a cold and miserable ordeal.
Eight students and the teacher looked out the window for the first time that day. Indeed, a blizzard was beginning to blow seriously.
It had been snowing that morning when Victor gave Irene a ride to school in the sleigh pulled by two horses. It was in January 1939. Deep snow already covered the ground, too much for his 1928 Chevrolet. The sky was dark and a strong wind blew from the northwest.
Those eight students represented eight grades. Teachers in those days had to keep things organized and separated at the same time. Irene was in first grade.
She finished all eight grades at Brink School then went to Redfield High where she graduated in 1950. Afterwards she attended college in Rapid City. Now Irene is retired from her job with the Department of Defense near Washington, D.C. and lives in Maryland with her husband, Clayton. They were married in Rapid City in 1952.
"Get your things. I have the sleigh out front. Thank you ma'am." Victor nodded politely to the teacher and smiled at the other students. "I'm sure your folks will be along shortly."
All the children and the teacher were eventually given rides home by other families driving sleighs similar to the one Victor and Irene rode in.
Once ensconced in the sleigh, Irene asked, "How will we find our way home?" The blizzard was blowing hard.
"They know the way," Victor answered, lifting the reins. The horses nodded and started.
The school was three and one-half miles east of Redfield, South Dakota, on Highway 212. To get home they had to go another half mile east on the highway, then a half mile north and another half mile east, all on unpaved roads.
It was customary in those days to name the school for the family living nearest where it was built.
The Brink farm's silo still proudly displays the words Brink and Son. That represents Irene's only brother, Harold Brink. She has two sisters , Rosa (Brink) Davis and Evelyn (Brink) Holm.
Evelyn lives in Redfield, Rosa on a farm a half mile west of Brink school which is still standing, being used as a residence now.
"I can't even see the horses' ears," Irene complained.
"Not to worry. They know the way home."
In a little while the horses turned left. Just past that corner was a place called Gumbo Sag. It is a wide and sometimes flooded depression that is part of a pre-historic river that flowed north into the James river.
"They've turned into Gumbo Sag," Irene said with some alarm..
"Nope. On the road. They know the way."
That was long before snow plows and regular county maintenance, especially in the winter. Summer time was different. All the county roads benefitted from some scraping and leveling with a road grader. It took out the ruts and bumps left over from winter conditions.
The horses soon turned right. "Now we're really lost," Irene said, sounding even more worried.
"Just wait. We'll be home soon."
Not long afterwards they stopped. "Told you we were lost."
Victor said, "Come along. We're home. Take my hand to the door."
Then he drove the team and sleigh inside a large barn and unhitched them.