Extra Duty (#10)
There are two words that have ruined many weekend plans around Sequoyah. Hopes for a fun-filled weekend were quickly dashed when these two words were spoken. What are these words? “Extra Duty.” Extra duty was a form of punishment used when a student did not follow the rules set up by the school and its employees. This punishment was usually held on Saturday afternoons. If a student was assigned extra duty during the week for a violation or infraction, they knew they would have to give up their plans for the weekend and they would have to work around the school.
For many years, Saturday morning was a day of cleaning up around the campus. Students were assigned specific jobs. Some worked in the dorms while others were assigned to the dining hall or the school farm. Everyone had a job to complete. There was time in the afternoon for the students to do what they wanted to unless they were assigned extra duty.
Saturday afternoon was a great time to go to town for a movie and have some fun or to seek out adventure on Bald Hill. Bald Hill is located behind the school near the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds. Bald Hill may no longer be bald, but at one time there were no trees on the top, hence the name. Bald Hill was a place where the boys could go hunting for rabbits, hike or just explore. Many times Bald Hill was the place where various clubs and organizations would go to have a meeting, picnic and campfire.
The girl scouts and boy scouts used this hill on a regular basis. In the 1920s and 30s, the elementary grades would hike to Bald Hill for an outing twice a year. Someone would always lead, while the others would follow and there was someone to bring up the rear to keep the children heading in the right direction and close the gates when everyone was through them.
Picnics and cookouts on Bald Hill would nearly always include wild onions and eggs. Each student would pick a clump of wild onions on the way to Bald Hill and when they got to their picnic spot, all the wild onions would be put together with the eggs that had been brought from the school. When the boys would go hunting on Bald Hill, there was the decision to cook their game over an open campfire before going back to school, or taking their game back for the kitchen to cook.
Boys were not the only ones who hunted. One female alumnus from 1937 related a story about hunting rabbits and bringing back enough game to feed her whole table. The cook in the cafeteria prepared the meat for the hunter. If there was enough game brought back, the whole table could dine on it that night.
In the early days, students hunted with bean-flips, slingshots or bow and arrows the students had made themselves. In later years, students might hunt with .22s.
The most carefully laid plans for adventures on Bald Hill though were canceled when extra duty was assigned. There was no way to get around it. No way of getting out of it. Extra duty meant work.
The result of two girls' extra duty assignment can still be seen on the campus of Sequoyah High School over eighty years after it was assigned.
The two girls were assigned extra duty for a rule they had broken. The rule that was broken has long since been forgotten. The extra duty assigned was to plant two trees by the main school building. When Saturday afternoon arrived, the girls got shovels and went to work. Now any job worth doing, is worth doing right. The girls were told how large and how deep the hole should be. The hole must be of adequate size before the trees could be planted. If the hole was not of sufficient size, the tree might not survive. Trees were too valuable to not plant correctly.
The girls went to work. They dug, and they dug, and they dug. Before they had gone very far, they hit a rock. After digging around the rock, they hit another rock. This rock had to be dug out too before they could go any further. This was turning into hard work. As anyone who has tried to dig a hole in this part of Northeastern Oklahoma knows, in places, there is very little dirt mixed with the rocks that make up the area.These two girls felt like they must have hit a rock every time they put the shovel in the ground. All these girls had to do was plant two trees. After that was done, they were free for the afternoon.
Finally, after what seemed like hours of work, the girls got the first hole of sufficient size dug. One hole down, one hole to go. The only trouble was that it was getting late. It was almost time for supper and they still had to dig another hole and then plant the trees. They wondered what they were going to do.
One of the girls came up with an idea. They weren’t told to dig two holes to plant the trees, just the dimensions required to plant the trees. Why not just plant both trees in the same hole? Digging two holes was just too much work. At the rate they were going, they would be working all night. The decision was made.
Both trees were planted in the same hole. After all, the hole was the size and depth they were told to plant the trees in. They decided they weren’t so dumb. They didn’t need to dig another hole when they already had one dug.
Eighty years after these girls graduated in 1935, these two trees continue to grow out of the same hole.
Locate these two trees, take a selfie with the trees and e-mail or text it along with their location to Ms. Brant at email@example.com.
First correct response receives a prize and name will be entered into a drawing for a bigger prize at the end. Answers must be submitted by 5:00 pm today.