Sixty-nine years after she left her career as a teacher in a one-room country school southwest of Lincoln, Dorothy Block still hears from her former students.
"I had 10 pupils that first year," she recalls, adding they ranged in age from kindergarten to seventh grade. "One little five-year-old boy from Chicago was staying with his grandparents. He was my pride and joy."
The year was 1940.
"I had never been in a rural school until we had to go as part of our training," she adds. "I really loved it."
Dorothy's one-room schoolhouse was a little more prosperous than most, boasting a "wonderful library," a piano and a globe. There was, however, no electricity, so on gloomy days she and the students sat next to the windows.
"We had a lot of fun and the students would learn from each other."
Her first year of teaching brought World War II and an introduction to Richard, the farm boy who would become her husband. Two days after school ended in April of 1942, they were married. Richard left for service overseas, and Dorothy went home to Leavenworth.
"We wrote to each other every day," Dorothy recalls softly, holding out a handful of tiny brown envelopes - the "V" mails the government used during the war to save weight and space.
When Richard returned from the war, they moved into a house by Vesper. Together they raised two children, Becky and Royce. Dorothy helped with the farm and gave piano lessons for more than 50 years. She also played for all the church services for over 55 years.
When Dorothy moved to Via Christi Village in Manhattan, she donated her piano to the village and has enjoyed playing it for the other residents in all the years since.
"I like the closeness of only having 16 residents in a court," she says, adding the design is reminiscent of the neighborhoods of yesteryear. "I like that I can do what I want to.
"Becky thought the village is a nice place with wonderful staff, and I do, too!"