Heffron, Eleanor - Stories from the Past

Eleanor Heffron in April of 1990
Eleanor Heffron in April of 1990

Last updated: January 5, 2012

The Lusk Herald
May 30, 1990

Niobrara County is proud of its 100-year-old resident
by Mary A. Shields, Herald Editor

For someone to live a century is quite an accomplishment. To still be able to tell stories of your youth is even more remarkable. That's what Niobrara County's Eleanor Heffron was doing on her 100th birthday, April 26, 1990.

Heffron was born on that date in 1890 in Albion, Neb. to Anna and Thomas Heffron. She graduated from high school there.

"That's where I learned to be a teacher. I took teacher training. It was a good school," she said. She added that she went to Normal School and took training to be a teacher in Wayne, Neb., at Wayne State College. At that time teachers were only required to take Normal Training, which was about two years of training in order to teach school. She left Wayne State in 1916.

In 1916, she moved to Goshen County, Wyoming, where her brothers had moved previously. Two of her brothers were farmers and the other was a salesman for International Harvester Company. She was teaching in Torrington at that time. She taught in Albion, and in Guernsey several years as well.

"I kept on (with teacher training) and got a degree from the University of Wyoming in about 1918," she said.

"You had to take high school. You had to take normal training - you had to learn how to be a teacher before you could get a job. They called it normal training," she said. "Now it's more advanced. You got to have a degree in ordinary education."

Heffron taught elementary school - mostly fifth and sixth grade. "I did teach the eighth grade. When they got to eighth grade they all get to be smart aleck - they think they know everything," she said. When she was teaching most of the eighth graders were about 16 years old. "They missed school to work part of the time," she said.

After Heffron got her degree and had taught at various schools, she became county superintendent for Goshen County Schools. She served as superintendent for many years.

"It was an interesting job. Kids were well raised. At that time eighth graders had to go before the county superintendent to take their tests. They had to take tests to pass to high school. To go to high school most of them went to other schools," she said.

One of Heffron's fondest memories of her high school years was when she won a spelling bee.

"I was going to high school. I was about 15 years old and all the high school kids at that time were part in a big contest, so I got in on the contest, and do you know I got the prize. It was for spelling. The prize was The Life of Abraham Lincoln, two volumes," she said.

"A man then was lucky to get a team of horses to help him plow the field," she said, then followed that by quoting a verse from a poem , "Plow deep while the red shirts sleep."

Heffron saw the Holly Sugar Factory come into Torrington. "That employs lots of men. They got experienced men from the Holly Sugar Factory in California to come there and work," she said.

She has some opinions of the past and present.

"The best president (of the United States) was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He brought about social security. Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed that social security. It wouldn't be anything without him," she said.

Students have changed in some ways, but not in others, she said.

Students were crazy about watching football, she said. "Teachers used to let their students go. (The students) didn't like homework. They still don't. They're not as reliable. You can't rely on them. It's just the way the kids are. It's just their attitudes. They are hard to control. They tell their parents they don't know nothing. They're crazy about TV. They don't want to read. The only books they like to read are about cowboys," she said.

One of Heffron's favorite sayings is:

"Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made;
Grow old nor be afraid."

Her favorite song is "Back in the Saddle Again." I like country music. I like classic music, too," she said.

Heffron also had three sisters; Elizabeth ran the post office in Torrington for many years; Mary taught school in Casper for many years and Anna was also a teacher.

Heffron raised her niece Agnes (Dollie) after Dollie's father, Will, died and her mother died in child birth. She said she is still single. "I haven't gotten married yet," Heffron said.

Heffron was honored on her birthday with presentations from Gov. Mike Sullivan's office, the Commission on Aging and received her 50-year membership pin from Royal Neighbors Association.




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