Nebraska Central Academy and College

John and Ruth head off to school in September 1927 for what will be their last year together at Nebraska Central. I want to share more about the school that was so much a part of their lives. The photo at the top of the blog is of NCC in the snow. When I was a kid we drove to Nebraska one summer and my folks were so excited as we started the journey talking about going to see their old school. Having grown up in the shadows of Penn State, I commented, “Some big school, probably has all of ten buildings”. They looked at each other and burst out laughing; NCC had a total of three buildings, a girls dorm, a main building, and Hord Hall that was a boys dorm, class rooms, and heating plant.

NCC girls dorm and old main

NCC girls dorm and old main

Hord hall - men's dorm, class rooms & heating plant

That’s it…that’s the high school and college.  Mighty small, but it had a huge impact on lots of kids in that part of Nebraska including several Bentons and Fergusons.

When Uncle Ralph was in his later years I spoke to him and told him how I wished I could take Mom’s old photo albums out to him and have him tell me the stories and identify the pictures.  Mom was good about collecting the photos, but not about labeling them.  In response, after Dad died, he made me a scrap book of Mom & Dad’s life including photos of NCC and rememberences.  As I read the letters all of these places came to life.  Here is some NCC history from Uncle Ralph from the book he sent me in 1997:

The girl’s dorm is where Ruth lived the four years she was at NCC.  Old Main had a basement and three floors.  A dining room and kitchen and laundry space were in the basement.  The president’s office, the dean’s office and a small bookstore plus classrooms were on the first floor.  An assembly hall and classrooms were on the second floor.  The library and more classrooms were on the thrid floor.  Lots of stair climbing.

Hord Hall, the men’s dorm, was where I lived for four years and where John and I shared a room for three years.  On the ground floor was a small gym, the heating plant and a small room where the person who fired the furnace and did maintenance work lived.  On the second floor was a small conference room, science lab and classrooms.  Living quarters were on the top floor.  These humble buildings were a far cry from what you see today on college campuses but we got a good education and had lots of fun. NCC was a Friends (Quaker) school with a dedicated but poorly paid faculty.

President and Mrs. Carrell. "President", as Dad calls him, was so influential in Dad's life that my oldest brother was named Milton Ora in honor of the man who showed my father the man he was to become.

President and Mrs. Carrell. “President”, as Dad calls him, was so influential in Dad’s life that my oldest brother was named Milton Ora in honor of the man who showed my father the man he was to become.

President Carrell kept the school alive and was a good leader.  He is the one who saw the possibilities in your father and encouraged him and made important contacts in getting him accepted in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania.

I mentioned that on the basement floor of the main building was the kitchen, dining room and laundry.  All three of our meals were served in the dining room.  The laundry was something else.  There was no hot water heater.  Instead there was a small stove in which we made a fire.  There was a big oval boiler tub which we placed on the stove and then filled with tap water.  When the water was hot enough, it was dipped into the old washer that had a wringer attached.  An electric motor ran the washer.  This wasn’t too different from the way washing clothes in our farm home was done.  Your mother and I worked together.  I would go over early, start the fire and fill the tub with water.  By the time breakfast was over the water was hot enough to put into the washer.  Ruth would bring her clothes and bedding to be laundered and I brought mine.  When ready, I hung our things on outdoor lines.  There was a room in the girls dormitory set up for ironing and pressing and Ruth did the ironing for both of us.

There are many more photos of dear old NCC, but those I will include with the letters as they continue to unfold.  Below is the NCC Alma Mater.  Click on it twice to enlarge.

alma mater

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