The Wise household in south Nodaway was all abustle this Sunday morning. It was May 25, 1913 and a milestone date. Genevieve Mary Wise had done it. She had completed high school and would be attending her baccalaureate ceremony this morning and her commencement ceremony in just four days. The attendance at both would include family and friends of the eight graduates, which was most of the population of this small rural village. Being only a few hours away, chores needed to be done and preparations completed and food was needed.
“Albert have you got the horses harnessed up yet?” asked Sarah. As his mother she still felt it her duty to nag her twenty-one year old son in a gentle manner to get the chores done.
“Not yet Mother, I’m still working on these hot cakes, but I will have them ready. Genevieve isn’t even dressed yet.”
“Oh yes I am. I’m ready … except I’m starving. We have time yet, the ceremony isn’t for another couple hours. Mother I think you are more excited and anxious than I am.”
“Oh, I’m just so proud of you Gen and I want everything to be perfect. Go ahead, sit down, have some coffee, some hot cakes and take the rest of that bacon. I was so excited to get the letter from Parsons College the other day confirming your admission there. Just think you will be the first in our family to attend college. What an achievement.”
“I’m so excited. I wish I could start right away. Having to wait three months seems like forever. Mother are you sure we can afford it? I know it’s a lot but maybe I can take in some sewing over the summer or find some other temporary job.”
“I have been planning this for years. I have enough put away. You don’t need to worry, just to study and learn and get that next diploma.”
Quiet descended on the kitchen, children and mother each occupied with their own thoughts. Sarah thinking about her deceased husband and how proud he would have been of Genevieve’s accomplishment and Albert wondering if he would be able to get to the baseball game this afternoon. Genevieve was remembering all the happy memories made in this room and hoping her father could see her and was proud of her.
The bright sunshine streamed in through the large windows promising a beautiful morning for the ceremony. Genevieve thought of the small church in Nodaway that was so familiar to her and such a comfort but her thoughts drifted to August, to Parsons and she wondered how she would like it, if she would make friends, if she would do well in her classes. When she and Mother had visited she thought it was so beautiful; stately and grand with the beautiful Barhydt Memorial Chapel and the grand three story Ballard Hall where she would spend the next four years. She hadn’t met her roommate but hoped they would get on. Oh it was so exciting, so big.