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July 30, 2014

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There's a story in this photo - and it's all part of a very small world

Here's an "it's a very small world" story, if there ever was one. Can any viewer identify what these two men have in common? The Icon spotted this conversation prior to Monday's all-elementary Christmas concert in the BHS gym.

Here's the story behind the photo:

On the left is George Denecker, father of Greg Denecker, Bluffton superintendent. He is talking with Dick Jordan of Bluffton.

Here's the connection between the two according to Dick: George and I were schoolmates from my 6th grade through our junior year of high school in Riga, Michigan. My arrival in Riga increased the 6th grade 33% (from 3 kids to 4). George was then in 7th and I in 6th.

My 6th grade teacher promoted me to 8th, skipping me past the 7th so the following year the 7th grade was reduced 25% from what it otherwise would have been. From 8th grade through our junior year in high school, George and I were classmates.

The grade school we attended was the "two-room" Riga Village School, in the town of Riga, in Riga Township, Lenawee County, Michigan. There were two classrooms occupied, one up, one down.

First, Miss Marian Dauel then a Miss Sayers had 1st-4th grades; our teacher Mrs. Glenadine Lassey had 5th through 8th grades. A third room was the downstairs auditorium, used only a few times each year -- for assemblies. The building's unused fourth room (upstairs) had in earlier years been the two-year Riga High School. (Riga Tech we called it.) The rest of the townshp had one-room schools Michigan had one-room schools into the 1970s.

Riga had the same population back then as Mt. Cory. For high school, George and I went to Blissfield High School, in the town of that name, 2 1/2 miles from Riga. There was only one school bus for all the high school kids. I believe Blissfield town kids all walked to school no matter how far. Tuition was paid by school boards of the surrounding areas, which lacked high schools, for their kids to attend the Blissfield High School.

George was a swell kid, which is why I was thrilled when Greg came to Bluffton's school system; I knew what a good family he is from. Dr. P.C. Weisenbarger also knew the Denecker family. They often stopped at the Denecker farm roadside stand on U.S. Route 223, a few miles from Riga, enroute to the Weisenbarger cottage at Devils Lake, Michigan.

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