Peacocks, parlor games, and pink fruit loaf
She had the enhanced ability to organize the future through encouragement, art, poetry, and engagement. She could stand in the middle of complete chaos and organize a solution in her mind. She always allowed moments for appreciation for simple gifts such as interesting words from a crossword puzzle, sharing a cowboy memory from Medora, and the beauty of wool with mixing wooden toggle buttons together. She could express her faith in students just by her eyes. She took to heart and shared with many a student Emerson’s words, “Believe in yourself, and what others think won’t matter.” She shared that learning is easy and unlearning is hard. She is Virginia Loffelmacher, a remarkable teacher and my former next door neighbor.
Virginia and Don Loffelmacher moved to Underwood in the early seventies when Virginia took a teaching position in the Underwood School system. They along with their five children and their green and tan New Moon mobile home moved into my parent’s trailer court. It was a move that forever changed my life. Their twin sons, Harlan and Harold, were in my class. They were blonde, Dutch, and artistic. They considered every surface a canvas for their gifted hands and eyes. We were inseparable, and we lived our lives like the Hardy Boys – full of adventure. Snippets of Nancy Drew also emerged as we, unannounced to our folks, explored an abandoned building.
It was New Year’s Eve 1974 and the Loffelmacher Family had invited the Repnow Family to ring in the New Year! Their New Moon trailer had been replaced with a deluxe longer and wider mobile home, complete with sunken living room and picture gallery mantel, which showcased the many beautiful oil paintings of the twins.
For many years in Underwood, Von’s Clothing graced Main Street. A segment of the store carried a variety of fabrics, buttons and ladies’ cool belts. One of the fabrics was embroidered with threads of gold, emerald green, fuchsia, cobalt blue, and other vivid tones displaying peacocks on black satin quilted fabric. The huge bolt looked like a lovely vase on display. For months, I would walk by this bolt and imagine things it could be turned into!
Our family made a peaceful meander through the cottonwoods that separated our homes. As we stepped to the front door of the Loffelmacher home, the door opened widely. We were greeted by our gracious hostess, Virginia. My youthful eyes came alive with vigor as she stood their in a full-length, timeless skirt made from the quilted fabric at Von’s Clothing. She looked festive. Her attention to the hem of her skirt allowed us to enjoy her walking luminaries – gold lame pumps. She carried off the evening with such grace. Neighborhood friendliness and laughter pedaled through the evening in tandem. We all enjoyed dynamic parlor games, complete with prizes. I ended up with a stash of holly-scented bath spheres. As we watched the countdown from Times Square, my eyes were not on the crystal ball but rather on a great lady who believed in herself and applied her intellect to daily living. It was for this very reason she could, and did, pull off wearing embroidered peacocks and gold pumps while welcoming her neighbors at the New Year on the North Dakota prairie.
Repnow is a
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