SLAYTON - The city of Slayton stretched its current population of 2,150 on Friday as countless people joined together in celebration of the community's 125th year.
While some participated in the seventh annual Days of '87 golf tournament Friday at the Slayton Country Club or made a splash at Slaytona Beach West Aquatic Center, others chose to reminisce about the good ol' days at the Dinehart/Holt House and the Murray County Museum.
Nearly 80 unique prom dresses were on display at the Dinehart/Holt House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Site supervisor Jolene Johnson said the prom dress idea stemmed from the successful wedding dress display from two years ago.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Slayton Class of 1942 classmates Liz Risacher, left, and Phyllis Kasper take a peek at a photograph from the 2000 Slayton All-School Reunion while at the Murray County Museum on Friday.
"We thought it would be a fun thing to do for the 125th and the All-School Reunion," Johnson said. "We try to do something different each year. And prom's a big deal. Most women still remember the color of their dress."
The oldest prom dress on display was Betty Lovell Swan's from 1942.
"They're all on loan and all labeled," Johnson said. "We especially like the vintage ones. They're in such lovely shape. Some didn't bring in their dresses, though, because they let their grandkids play with them. For most little girls, it's like being a princess."
Phyllis Kasper, who lives in Pipestone, attended prom in the early 1940s.
"One of my dresses was a pale aqua color and the other one was black with pink flowers," she said.
Along with Beverly Risacher, who attended school in Westbrook, Kasper toured the house and prom dress display with fellow 1942 classmate Liz Risacher, who lives in California.
"I enjoyed the tour a lot," Kasper said. "No one should miss this tour. The dresses are darling, and the house is nice, too. The stained glass is gorgeous. You don't see much of it anymore."
Beverly Risacher added that she especially enjoyed the wood work inside the home.
"Along with the gowns, the house is beautiful," she said.
Liz Risacher didn't remember the color of her dress, but she recalled the style of it and the fun she had.
"The dress was all tight up around the neck," she said. "We had a lot of fun. We all traveled in packs."
Marlys (Nelson) Stein, who graduated from Slayton in 1955, remembered her prom date.
"Dean VanWinkle was my boyfriend at the time," Stein said. "We went to prom here and in Balaton for two years. My dress was ankle-length and blue."
Stein, who now lives in Hudson, Fla., enjoyed reminiscing with her sister-in-law Ruth Nelson of Slayton. The two used to be schoolmates at the District 101 country school in Murray County.
"I used to be skinny," Nelson said. "But I guess I have four kids to show for it."
Nelson went to prom in Tracy, though she admits it was not very spectacular.
"I didn't want to go, but my parents made me," she said. "I remember that one of my dresses was pink."
Stein pointed out that in Florida, people often donate prom dresses to girls who can't afford them.
"About two or three times a year, people donate used wedding or prom dresses, so the girls can go to prom," she said. "It's really neat."
A large number of people also shared memories at the Murray County Museum on Friday.
"Everybody has a story," Museum director Diane Clercx said. "We've had about 40 people in so far (Friday). They've been showing me pictures of themselves in the yearbooks."
Along with Monica Wagner of Mankato, Katie Beech and Mary Beech, both of Slayton, enjoyed looking through the Slaytonian.
"I was looking at my dad's (John Beech) picture," Katie Beech said. "He graduated in '69. I loved his glasses. They were so cute."
For the 125th, Clercx said that Slayton memorabilia was moved to the middle sections, including past uniforms, jerseys, band equipment, scarves, trophies, plaques and other memorable items.
"I recognize a lot of these," Liz Risacher said.
Kasper recalled the traveling "goat" trophy.
"It was a good rivalry between Fulda and Slayton, Phyllis Kasper said. "It was for basketball, I think."
Beginning in the mid-1920s, the goat became the ultimate possession between the two schools. For most years, one of the varsity teams had to win both season games in order for the goat to change hands.
Later, the girls varsity basketball teams began competing in what was referred to as the annual "Nanny Game," though no trophy circulated.
"Everybody likes the goat and the (stuffed) wildcat," Clercx said.
A collection of articles from the Murray County Herald, Murray County News and the Fulda Free Press framed the historic rivalry, which ceased after the 1992-93 season - the year before Slayton, along with the communities of Chandler and Lake Wilson, officially became Murray County Central.
Most museum-goers took their time, inspecting everything on display.
"It's cool," said Devon VanDeWiele, 5, who was visiting with his 8-year-old sister Aleksis, dad Bryan and great-uncle Fred Nelson.
Aleksis VanDeWiele especially liked the Barbie displays, pointing out that one of the dolls looked like one that her great-grandmother used to have and that her great-great grandmother used to collect.
"I like the Museum because of all the old stuff in here," she said. "Somebody said that the gray (salon style) hair dryer is my great-great grandmas. She was a hair dresser."
Nelson, who lives in Aiea, Hawaii, was excited to return to his hometown of Slayton for the All-School Reunion.
"I'm here for the big reunion," he said. "I also have a class gathering."
One of the memories wasn't a good one, Risacher and Kasper said as they gazed up at the "X Marks the Spot" sign on the wall, depicting the 12 lives lost in a fatal two-car crash on April 21, 1940.
"I remember this," Risacher said. "It happened right across the field from us. But we didn't know till the next morning. It's so sad."
Kasper recalled being at the funeral of one of the victims. Three victims were from Slayton, while one was from Hadley, two from Fulda and six from Jackson.
"I was in the school chorus," Kasper said. "We sang for Everett's funeral."