The Reineking Memoirs from Fred Reineking '46

Back in the early thirties, most high schools in Sheboygan County were small and understaffed (to say the least) and many rural kids never went to school beyond the eighth grade. I was fortunate in that my parents insisted that I continue my education. So they enrolled me in the Mission House Academy, a school run by the Reformed Church for the purpose of educating those who were studying to become ministers. I can't recall just how many students attended, but I would guess only 30-40 students comprised the student body. Some classes were bigger than others. My class of '39 consisted of five members, two girls and 3 boys. We were enrolled in the college prep curriculum & our classes were taught by the college professors. Many of our teachers had Ph.D.'s and they weren't too happy having to teach a bunch of kids. They didn't alter their teaching techniques, so you can imagine how tough it was for us young kids. But we graduated with a great education.

The curriculum consisted of four years of English, Math, Social Studies and Science, in addition to four years of Latin and German. My English and Latin teacher was Alvin Grether. Professor Joseph Bauer taught my German class. Social Studies was taught by a man by the name of Dornbush, a retired high school principal who had been talked out of retirement by the College. Science and Physics were taught by Huber Ludwig and Math was taught by Dr. Carroll Rusch, a young Mission House grad. I do know that Dr. Rusch came from Campbellsport and played basketball at Mission House. School hours were from 8:00 a.m. until noon and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. There were no “free periods" or study halls. Sometimes our teachers dismissed classes early, while other times we were held overtime. I especially remember our physics class, which was the class period right before noon. Prof. Ludwig would give us some problems to solve before he left early to go home for lunch. The problems were so tough that we did not even "goof off." We locked the classroom door as we left, per his instructions. There were no frills offered, just tough, hard-nosed college prep courses taught by teachers who really didn't care that much about getting down to the level of teenage kids. So it was all business.

There were no physical education classes and the only outlet for our surplus energy was basketball. We played games with Sheboygan County high schools, including Howards Grove, Elkhart Lake, Kiel, Cedar Grove and Oostburg. I was probably the heaviest player of all those games, but I was a regular on the floor for all of them. I bowled over many a guy who was assigned to guard me. We had a small room on the third floor of Old Main where we could keep our jackets as well as our books. I was fortunate to live close to the campus so I could go home for lunch. I don't really know where the other students spent that hour. Most carried their sack lunches, although they could buy a ticket to eat in the dorm dining room as long as they made arrangements in advance. We graduated the same day that the college and seminary classes did and we all wore the same caps and gowns.

I graduated in the spring of 1946 and was hired at my first job interview at Wisconsin Dells that summer. I taught U.S. History, Social Studies and Latin. I was also the Junior Class Adviser, Study Hall Supervisor, Assistant Football Coach, JV Basketball Coach and Track Coach. How's that for a teaching load? For all this, I got a contract for $2,400. However, at mid-year we got an additional $400.00 raise. The elementary and high schools were both all housed in an old building built in 1865. In 1946, we only had 200 kids in high school. The Superintendent of Schools also served as the Elementary and High School principal. With the increase in enrollment, the Board of Education instructed the Superintendent to find a High School principal. Fortunately for me, I was his selection and I served as the High School principal for the next 32 years before retiring in 1983. Wisconsin Dells is truly a unique community and I was so fortunate to find my employment there. My wife, Wilma, and I had 2 daughters. Our eldest, Barbara, was a high school mathematics teacher who taught at Brookfield Central. Our second daughter, Susan, was a microbiologist. Susan graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin and worked in the City of Milwaukee Health Department for 30 years before retiring. Her husband is also a microbiologist, but he didn't like being cooped up in an office all day so he became a salesman, selling equipment to nursing homes, hospitals and dentists. Neither couple has had children so Wilma and I never had the opportunity to spoil our grandchildren.


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