8th Grade Graduation

Dexter’s eighth grade graduation of 1958 was held in the 1916 Dexter Community Building. I wasn’t aware of the history all around me. The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Both of my parents played basketball there, as well as graduated from Dexter High School. So did most of their siblings.

I had no idea until the building’s centennial celebration that Dad’s grandfather, O.S. Neal, was on the committee that planned the permanent Community Building to replace a temporary tabernacle. Dad’s mother, Ruby Blohm, graduated from Dexter in 1916, but the new building hadn’t been completed yet.

Seated on the stage are Superintendent L.O. Wineingar, Principal A. E. Ellingson, and an unidentified gentleman.

Dr. Keith M. Chapler, probably school board president, hands me my 8th grade diploma. He was the doctor who had delivered me almost 14 years earlier, along with my sister and most of my cousins.

He’d also patched up Buck and Blanche Barrow after the 1933 shootout with the Barrow Gang (aka Bonnie and Clyde) in Dexfield Park!

Dr. Chapler’s wife, Eleanor, was my piano and organ teacher for years.

Mom made my dress of light blue cotton sateen, with piping and a black velvet ribbon, which tied in the back, threaded through decorative lace. (I still have the dress.)

You can see the back of the dress in this photo.

I’ve been thinking about Grandma Leora Wilson, who wanted to go on to high school but her father forbade it. Dad’s mother, Ruby Blohm Neal, is my only grandparent who completed high school, at Dexter. Both of my parents did, in 1935 and 1936, also at Dexter.

School reorganization in 1958 meant that all four of my high school years were spent at neighboring Earlham, which was Dexter’s long-time football rival!


  1. Thinking about your great-grandfather’s mindset. I wonder how many technical, medical, and inventive breakthroughs that would have never happened (when they did at least) without educated women. A different time in our world indeed back then. Like now perhaps, not all good, but with much more good intention. Enjoyed ma’am.

    • This will come out in the next “Leora book,” but her father promised money and land to his older children instead. He “went bust” two or three times, and was probably a bitter man when he died in 1930 (teaching his oldest two grandsons to shock oats for a neighbor). Two of the younger brothers completed high school and were able to help others in the family during the Great Depresssion. That’s why Leora wanted all her children to get that diploma, even during the Depression, and she did it!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.