Archived Story

Supt. John Jarpe: A great time and place to grow up

Published 9:52pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A couple weeks ago, my sister, brother and I went to scatter our mother’s ashes at a favorite lake place.

She lived in a lot of places in 99 years, but the one the three of us most often considered home was Niles. Geoff, Diane and I spent a lot of time reminiscing about growing up here on this recent vacation.

Our sister, Diane, said something that really rang true: “Niles really changed my life. In fact, living in that town saved us.”

She went on to talk about how living in our previous home in northern Minnesota was so remote, we had few friends. The school district up there was tiny and had no kindergarten. Mom scraped together tuition to send me to kindergarten for six weeks, so I would know how to socialize with other kids. Diane had a mean teacher in third grade and hated going to school.

We moved to Niles in late summer of 1956. Our house-builders weren’t finished yet, so we lived in a trailer park not far from downtown Niles. We walked downtown to the movie theater; we walked to little neighborhood grocery stores; and our favorite place was the library. We went there as often as we could and many times we would just sit there and read. We had great teachers that first year we lived in Niles, and many more outstanding educators through the years.

It was great to remember all those special times and people, and we all agreed how fortunate we were to grow up here in Niles back in those days.

Moving here was one of the best decisions our parents ever made, and we thought about that as we sprinkled her ashes.

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