Reading Race Prize

KLS Reading RaceBuried in a box of old newspaper clips that are crumbling bad enough that I’ve been sneezing all afternoon was my first grade Reading Race Prize.

Mrs. Kelpe, the first grade teacher every kid should have, wrote on the back, “To Kenneth, who was once again the winner of the Reading Race. I am proud of you, Kenneth.” It was dated March 25, 1954, the day after my birthday.

My “sailer” hat

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953My first grade scrapbook has this photo of me wearing the prize for winning an earlier Reading race.

The account of my big day

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953Dad’s typewriter didn’t have a spellchecker on it, so some typos crept in from time to time. The fact that he and Mother went to all the trouble to document my young life is much appreciated. As Kid Rel II, Brother David’s scrapbook was a lot shorter. Brother Rel III Mark’s book simply said, “Refer to earlier editions.”

“…Mrs. Kelpe timed up on readying (sic) today and had a prize for the fastest ones. I won as my time was only 1-1/2 minutes. It took one boy 6 minutes. The prize was a white sailer hat. A little bit [big] but I like it. Boy! I was good to win that hat. [OK, so I needed to work on humility.] I told Mrs. Kelpe she was the best teacher I ever had and I’ve had a plenty.

6 Replies to “Reading Race Prize”

  1. Wow, I’m impressed. September of first grade and you were already writing long sentences like that? Most kids would have still been at the cat-rat-hat, see Spot run stage at that point. Did your parents teach you to read before you started school?

    1. Actually, I wasn’t writing them. My Dad was, but he captured pretty well what I probably told him.

      My folks didn’t teach me to read, but we always had books and magazines around. Because I was the oldest and because we lived in a trailer wherever Dad had a construction job before I started school, I spent a lot of time alone. A huge stack of comic books were my substitute for other kids to play with. They gave me a sense of story flow and words before I could actually read them.

  2. Mrs. Kelpe ended up as a Kindergarten teacher at Alma Schader school by 1960. Ken’s assessment of her is accurate.

    1. I must have had the wrong Mrs. Kelpe. However, there were two Kindergarten teachers at Alma Schrader; a Mrs. Kelpe along with Mrs. Beard; the Police Chief’s wife. Kelpe Electric was owned by the husband of the Alma Schrader teacher.

  3. WHAAAA! Mrs Kelpe, OUR Mrs. Kelpe, defected to a public school in ’60? Keith Robinson, are you sure? Could it have been Mrs. Petzoldt, Mrs. K’s daughter, or another relative?

  4. Mrs Kelpe taught at Trinity long past traditional retirement age. I had her in 1964 and I believe she had either just retired or was getting ready to retire when my sister started at Trinity.

    Of course, Ken, I’m sure it wasn’t the prize that motivated you as much as receiving “the stinger”.

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