Grade School Acrobatics


My mother spoke a number of times about learning acrobatics when she was in school. Their teacher Brownie Dillman taught the students. Recently, I scanned some stamp-sized photos that showed this teacher and some of the students.

acrobatis - Noller school

It seems that the acrobatic team had the opportunity to perform at the Kansas State Fair. It lists the names of the students, but not Gail McGhee. I don’t know if at age 13, she had already moved on to another school or if some other reason kept her from attending.

The Hutchinson News (page 13, Sept. 16, 1937) wrote about the free day for school children that expected 7,000 children and teens to attend. Here’s the schedule for the entertainment in the grandstand at 10:30 am on the free day.

  • Short speeches by some school officials
  • A clown from the state fire marshal’s office
  • Rover the mathematical dog
  • A troupe of juvenile acrobats – The acrobatic team originated from the Seeley Grade School of Madison, Kansas. Members of the troupe are Dixie Jean Falk age 7, Edna Mae Laird age 7, Marilyn Ruth Dettcr (spelling?) age 7, and Dorothy Rose Laird age 12.
  • Dancers from local schools and Clyde S. Miller’s Wild West Show
  • Music by the Hutchinson High School band directed by S. Allen Watrous.
  • Also music by Turkey Creek, Wakeeney and Pawnee Rock bands.
gail's school chums acrobats

Two of Gail McGhee’s school chums show off their acrobatic skills.

browning Dillman school teacher (1)

Browning Dillman, the school teacher who taught Gail and her friends to perform acrobatics.

The Seeley School was built in 1924. I found a few mentions of the construction progress. It closed in 1959.

  • “J. F. Ridenour has finished wiring the Seeley school house.” ¹
  • “William Crawford of the Crawford Hardware Company, hung the drains at the Seeley schoolhouse this week and is putting the plumbing in. The schoolhouse will be finished this week.”²

Seeley school

¹The Lamont Leader, Madison, Kansas  06 Oct 1924, Mon • Page 1

²The Hamilton Herald, The Climax Chronicle, The Virgil Visitor, The Quincy Quill, and The Neal News of Madison, Kansas. 14 Nov 1924, Fri • Page 5

(A shorter version of this story appeared on Finding My Mom, a blog about Gail Lee Martin)

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