Class of ’55
Coming to Marion was ‘big change’ for rural students
Marion High School in the 1940s and ’50s had class sizes of 40 to 50 students, but that was a major shift for Wanda Richmond, a self-described “country kid who went to country school.”
Richmond attended Kreutziger rural school through sixth grade, then transferred to Marion for middle and high school, graduating in 1955.
“It was a big change,” she said. “I had two other class members with me in the country school. Then here I come into class of 20 or 30 kids.”
One major difference was that teachers weren’t staying at her home. Her country school teacher always stayed with Richmond’s family because the family had a spare room and lived near the school.
“The teachers were happy for that,” she said. “If they were just starting out teaching or something like that then it was nice that our folks offered her a place to stay.”
Once Richmond started attending Marion, she quickly found her niche in band and served as drum major. She remembers leading the band during the opening of St. Luke Hospital.
“We were so thrilled to dedicate St. Luke Hospital,” she said. Richmond also remembered that day because former band director Kenneth Swanson never let her forget.
“I had this long baton I twirled and blew a whistle to start the music,” she said. “He got a little close to me, and I wacked him across the arm. We laughed about that for I don’t know how many years.”
Richmond knew she had an affinity for music and also sang in choirs and played saxophone.
“I didn’t have any brothers or sisters,” she said. “Music was just my thing.”
Richmond later worked for the Conyers family flower shop and took it over when they retired. Her knowledge of greenhouses carried over, but it was her daughter, Rhonda, who was an expert with flowers.
“I always said she was the one who went to school and got the training,” Richmond said. “She was bossing her mom around, telling me what to do.”