A school, town and family reunion all in one

Mary Lipp, the guest of honor at the reunion, speaks with an attendee.

The Lidgerwood Community Center was filled with laughter, chatter and old friends Saturday, Sept. 18.

To some in attendance it was a school reunion, to others it was a township reunion and even family reunion.

The gathering was planned by former students of Mary Lipp, formerly Mary Skroch, who taught at Country School No. 1 in Marboe Township, just southwest of Lidgerwood on the North and South Dakota border, from 1955-1956.

Lipp was the guest of honor at the event. Although originally planned by Lipp’s former students Carol Anderson, David Viland and Pat Grove, the event gained traction very quickly. Before long, it had morphed into a township reunion.

“There was a point a couple months ago where I felt like — and I even told Carol and Pat — this is overwhelming, this is far beyond what we planned and I don’t know how I can keep this up because it was a lot of work. But then, things started to fall into place,” Viland said.

Despite the stress associated with planning such an event, Viland said he enjoyed himself at the event and diving into a bit of history.

Viland spearheaded a booklet that compiled photos and historical information submitted by attendees of the event. Inside the booklets are pictures of the old Country School No. 1 he once attended and blurbs about families that once lived, or are still living, in Marboe Township.

Although the scope of the reunion expanded beyond its original intent, Lipp still made time for students like any good teacher would. She arrived hours early to the event to speak with her former students.

“I haven’t had any sleep by the way. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night,” Lipp said.

Lipp currently lives in Sun City West, Arizona, with her husband. She spent the bulk of her teaching career in Fargo, North Dakota, teaching first grade. The 17 students she taught at Country School No. 1 were her first ever.

“These kids are special to me. I shouldn’t say kids because many of them are 70 years old. They were my very first class and they gave me such valuable experience,” she said.

For Lipp, the event functioned as a family reunion too, getting to see her sister Annette Edgerton for the first time in many years.

It was Lipp’s first time returning to the area in nearly 20 years. Her family originally lived in Marboe Township near Lake Tewaukon on land purchased from Native Americans.

Her family would take trips to Lidgerwood to conduct business and she remarked the town has changed quite a bit over the years.

“It (Lidgerwood) brings back a lot of memories. I remember coming to Lidgerwood with my folks every Saturday. Mom would bring in a five-gallon bucket of cream that we’d save throughout the week and we always had like 30-dozen eggs and we’d come in and she’d sell those and then buy groceries. And then as a family, we’d go to the movies. My dad loved westerns, so it was always a western movie,” she said.

After some mingling and lunch, the group visited Marboe Township and the site of the school house. The school house has since been lost to time.

“It’s been wonderful, it’s been good … I look at some of these people and go, ‘Who is that?’ Anderson said.

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