By:  JoAnne Kranenburg Soper


I do not remember the year I received the "Girl Scout" magazine.  I was very intrigued with the stories and activities of scouting reported in that monthly publication.  Finally, I asked Mother (Jaunita Kranenburg) if there was any way - we the girls of Bates - could have a Scout Troop.  She said she would think on it and the first I knew Henrietta Leishman and Mother had a Girl Scout troop organized.


That Christmas Eve, Barbara and I went visiting with our parents.  We knew we were grown up now as always before we were left behind while they went through their Christmas rituals of visiting  the houses up and down the street.  Louise Stone had opened her presents and she had the most gorgeous green Girl Scout uniform I had ever laid my eyes on.  Talk about envy!  When we arrived at the Howard's, there stood Donna in the same beautiful uniform!  Barbara and I could hardly believe our eyes.  But their parents only had to purchase one.  Mother had told us that the uniforms were very expensive and that they really could not afford to buy two at this time.  Naturally they would not consider buying only one.  We were quite crest fallen when we saw two of our friends with the coveted uniforms.  They were just as lovely as the pictures had shown them in the magazine.


When we finally returned home, it was past our bedtime.  We had always been allowed to open one gift of our choice on Christmas Eve.  This year mother brought 2 large boxes from under the tree and gave us before we had a chance to show her the one we had our eyes on.  Well, you know what was in those boxes!  It seems the parents had all agreed that every girl was to receive a uniform for Christmas or none at all.  Now we really and truly were Girl Scouts!


Henry even had her leader's uniform.  While mother was her assistant, I don't recall seeing her ant any of the meetings.  It may be that with two girls in the troop she felt the need to keep her part at a minimum.  Henry was the only adult when we took our outings to the "hot springs."


I was married after my Sophomore year in high school so I have no idea when the troop disbanded, but I know I was always grateful to Henry for the time she spent helping us earn our achievement badges.  It consumed a lot of hours well spent for me.


Mrs Sam (Nan) Kranenburg took these things all in and decided that the boys in the area needed something like this too.  It was in the early 1940's that she formed a Boy Scout troop.  She took them hiking, fishing and camping.  They camped at Arch Kranenburg's cabin.  The only problem being that if Gail found out her grandmother was going to the cabin ... boys or no boys ... she went too.  She was always going to grow up to be a boy.


I always credited Mr. Bronston, the Post Master, for saving my life.  Mother had said I could go play at Pauline Fanning's house.  They lived "around the bend."  It was winter and I was dressed in my green snowsuit.  We were very wise (we thought) third graders.  Walking on the board sidewalk from the Post Office (at the time the Post Office was on the end of the store facing the hall) Pauline decided we should walk on the ice below. I was afraid it might be too thin.  We sat on the walk and she eased herself down onto the ice.  Walking gingerly around she coaxed me to come try.  I hopped off the walk.  KER SPLASH!  I was waist deep in the freezing water.  While I wasn't about to drown, I could not reach the walk to pull myself out.  Mr. Bronson had watched the whole procedure from the Post Office window and came to pull us out.  After a sound scolding he sent us both to our separate homes. 


When I had a loose tooth I always went down the street (or was it up?) to Clara Beth Doe's house.  She had a way of placing the string under the tooth and out it would come with little or no pain.  I've often wondered how many teeth she pulled in her years at Bates.


Barbara and I had a playhouse on the side of the wood shed.  Daddy decided to make it into a cellar so built us a room in the attic of the house.  All our toys were lost when the attic burned.  I can still hear the fire whistle blowing.  It seemed to blow forever and with it people.  I think every person in town and at the mill were there within seconds of the alarm.  Everything in that house was moved out before we hardly knew what was going on.  There was an empty boxcar house across the tracks and all our things were moved in there.  We stayed with Mrs. Kranenburg until our house was repaired.  The fire marshal determined it was caused by bad wiring.  They prompted every house in town to be rewired.


Every summer the Christian Church in Baker sent their youth minister to Bates to hold Vacation Bible School for two weeks.  I think every one of us girls had our caps sent for the handsome man.  I still remember the disappointment the year he brought his new bride to help him.  There wasn't near the interest in memory verses that year.


Then the Assembly of God started coming every summer with their tent meetings.  I never missed a meeting.  It was a real thrill when they actually built a church.  Don Soper and I were the second couple to be married in that church.  Rod Frazier was the first.  The minister told mother it was her solemn duty to see that there was no drinking before the ceremony.  I am told that my uncle Franz Kranenburg decorated the church to a fair thee well with gladiolus and bows but I was too scared to see anything except Don and the preacher.  That was 48 years ago.


I remember watching the truck shop and hall burn.  I have a picture I took after it had burnt.  I remember the store burning twice.


When we were little, before the age of six, mother put us on the Sumter Valley Railroad train to go to Baker to spend time with our sister Beverly and grandmother Anne Coulter.  When she put us on the train she introduced us to the porter and told us we were to mind him.  I do not remember his name but he sure looked to be a very tall, big man.  When we were passing through Austin he pointed out a house and stated that that was where he lives with his wife and children.  He said he spanked his children every morning before he left home to take care of any wrong doings they might have during his absence.  That made a very strong impression on me to the point I was almost scared to turn in my seat, let alone get up.  I finally had to though.  He came by to see how we were doing and I finally got up enough courage to tell him I need to go ... bad.  H showed me where to go, but when I put that seat up and saw the tracks whizzing by, I was too scared to sit down for fear I would fall through!


I feel a real history of Bates has gone with the passing of our parents.  A lot of my generation left after school.  I know my father and Sam Kranenburg were there in the beginning and saw it's closing.