Dakota Business College Poem

Leland and Luella A. Watkins
Dakota Business College
Fargo, North Dakota

By Del Tysdal
in fond memory of F. Leland and Luella A. Watkins
March 1, 2001

F. Leland Watkins.

The penman pushed back, from his table where lay
Envelopes and letters, he had penned that day.
His school was all quiet, 'twas quarter past ten
Said Luella, his spouse, 50 plus years, 'home it is then'.

A tired old door on 8th Street South, now was closed and locked
Out into the dark, two figures, hand in hand, certainly walked.
The building from 1873, had school a myriad of folk.
So it began, as if it had ended, to soon. They quietly talked.

Their days had begun around 'twenty-two'
When the couple, with a well-founded love,
Decided to attend a penmanship school.
And off on a train, on the wings of a dove.

Columbus, the town; Ohio the state..
Zaner and Bloser, the handwriting school.
E A Lupfer, the teacher, had called.
To tell them to come, to good to be true.

Luella Watkins.

Later that year, in the autumn, early fall,
The tall and thin, the lady with red hair
Started a life, career, on South Eighth
His father had started a business school there.

Then, and so quickly, at age, near seventy and five
The two walked again, to their home to the south
The odd looking oblique pen was put down
The ink bottle closed at last at its mouth.

Their students had watched by the year, all day
While the penman wrote and drew
Letters of the alphabet, practiced
With care, showing all how to do.

He often began before light
Most often the first to get there.
No robins or worms were before
He practiced his skill, pen on its paper.

Exactly at eight, a roll call was read,
Eric, Mike, Jim, Charles, Skip and Bill,
Susan, Gloria, Janet, Robin, Judy and Sandy
Thousands enrolled, no time to be ill.

To learn business, Actual Business From the Start
An intense teaching process: Bookkeeping,
Spelling, Business English, Typing, Shorthand
Office Practice, small business accounting.

Right about nine, or a bit before, the drills he recited
For the arm movement penmanship class he chanted:
"Over and under, round and around, push and pull
The pen, keep the wrist flat, not slanted.

And so welcome at ten, but just for fifteen
A trip to Dutch Maid Cafe for a snack
Or just to the front steps for a joke
He often told students "I hope you come back!"

And welcome, they were, for class in math
Two digits times two, three digits times three
Learn the numbers, over and over and over again
Until you got three, one hundreds, with glee.

Prompt at eleven, practical bookkeeping was next
With monopoly-like cash, in ones to one hundreds
Transactions were written, invoices delivered
To business offices, where advanced students labored.

A roll call, yes, just at noon, class was dismissed
All off all went, wondering what would come to pass
"Do we do this all day, or just for the morning?"
And back right at one, well fed, for penmanship class.

Again he resounded his melodious chime,
"Over and under, around and about, push them, pull them"
Circles, then ovals, were practiced again, until
All arms and elbows, on paper, wrote the capital stem.

Just around two, Business English it was called
Conjunctions, nouns, prepositions, and verbs
Phrases and clauses, (not Santa), sentences proper
And not any room at all, for misplaced adverbs.

At three, a coffee, once in a while for a smoke
But he chided them well, come in from the cold
If employment you want, anywhere in town
Wear a jacket to work and a tie when told.

He finished the day with a lot more accounting
In teaching, he helped each student by student
Encouraged and praised, scolded and spanked
With words, with eagerness and joy resplendent.

A roll call at five, and just to be sure
That if you were there earlier, you were still there.
And way, they did go, some often bewildered at how
He took the steps up, three at a time—beware.

Now slowly quite a bit, after 55 years of teaching
The two, now aged and failing, her red hair still bound
The two took the keys, once more locked the door
Said good-bye to all, walked the park once around.

And graduates, all over, from a bank to a shop
In suits and in ties, polished shoes with even a hat
Do glitter with gold, with a paycheck that matters
All due to a couple that cared for just that.

And it is surely agreed, and others are treed
No chance for quarreling or fighting
That these facts are true, I will tell you
That F Leland and Luella are still writing.