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From Country Hoops to High School Glory

April 6, 2021

by Karen Cranston Quick

Like many of the residents at Seeland Park, I grew up on a farm and attended country school. When I was in kindergarten, we lived southeast of Deep River and the school there closed after that year. This put me in the Deep River school in what should have been my first-grade year, however, Deep River did not have kindergarten so the powers that be (probably including my parents) decided I should skip first grade, so I became a second-grader. That March, we moved northwest of Deep River to the farm my mother grew up on and that put me in a different country school! At that time, we had to go to Brooklyn to take the “exam” that would allow us to go to high school. Thankfully I passed the exam but was exposed to the mumps. I got them and gave them to the rest of my siblings. They weren’t happy with that, especially my older brother who had them pretty hard.

Pictured - Deep River’s 1957 Poweshiek County champions. Back row from left: Coach John Bartholow, Marilyn Rieck, Linda Elliott, Judy Rank, Shirley Schuldt, Jane Weiss, Norma Wiedemeir, Mrs. Bartholow (chaperone) and Darlene Schlesselman (student manager). Front row, from left: Gwen Rieck, Alice McMains, Sue McClain, Karen Cranston, Betty Galbraith and  Pat Hinrichs.

Sometime along when I was in 6th or 7th grade, my dad bought one of these “one-room” school houses and turned it into a granary. Well…half of it was a granary and in the other half, he put a basketball hoop. My brother and I spent a lot of time in that space shooting “hoops.”  It was fine for close shots but not so good for longer ones as the rafters were too low! 

Soon I was a freshman in high school with no competitive experience and hadn’t even played on a regular court. Our gym was downtown in the basement of the movie theater and we called it the “cracker box” because it was so small. In my freshman year, we were only allowed one dribble. The next year they changed it to two dribbles!!

Before one very memorable tournament game, the coach had us go back to the locker room after warm-ups and there were brand new uniforms!! Needless to say, we were thrilled. My memory doesn’t serve me well on all the highs and lows but we won several tournaments over the years and almost made it to the state tournament. The team we lost to did go. Harriett Taylor, the star forward on this New Sharon team that beat us, said some very nice things in the 1957 State Tournament Program. She stated that we were the best team they had played against that year—a very kind thing to say after they had lost their first game at state to another team.

The last year of six-on-six play, my husband and I took his two granddaughters to Des Moines to the tournament and watched games all day. The girls may not have enjoyed it as much as he and I did but it was a sad goodbye for us!

I am thankful that my dad put up that “granary” for us to practice in as it enabled me to become a starter in my freshman year.  I am also glad that I “skipped” first grade because that put me with the classmates who graduated in 1957. They are a special group. I will always appreciate the wonderful time spent playing six-on-six basketball. I had some great teammates and experiences. (Just for the record, six-on-six was a much better game than this five-woman stuff!)

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