Mildred Hobrock was born to Peter and Martha A. Hobrock on June 4, 1904, at Lincoln, Kansas. A lady doctor came to the home to deliver her. Her birthdate also marked the first day of mail delivery out of Lincoln. Mildred attended schools at Minneapolis, Tescott, and Natoma where she graduated from high school. Fresh out of high school, she took her first teaching job at the IXL school, District Number 115 in Victor Township of Osborne County. She was supposed to have seven students that first year but two families who had planned to move stayed there, and 20 students of various grades came to school that first day. Two little brothers, Marvin and Melvin Reynolds, who hadn’t been away from home very much, cried that day, and Mildred said she cried right along with them.
Some of her happiest days were in rural schools. Children seemed to be happier, eager to learn and didn’t fight as much as the town kids. Her duties included making the fires – which also meant carrying coal and emptying ashes – sweeping the floors, dusting desks, cleaning blackboards and erasers, and once a week inspecting and cleaning the outhouses. Getting a paycheck was sometimes a problem – if the treasurer had children in school it was sent with them. If not, the teacher had to go after it.
Recesses were not her favorite times of the day, but they played outdoors when the weather was good – games such as pom pom pullaway, andy over, baseball and dare base. In winter what fun they had playing fox and geese, building snow forts and having snowball fights!
In those days they could have prayer and Bible reading. Usually they all said the Lord’s Prayer. Christmas was special and parents always came to see their children perform. Mildred always had sacks of candy and nuts for all the children and a few extra ones for any other child who might come.
Mildred taught in five rural schools before moving to town. At Kill Creek wages were high and she received $100 a month. After that the depression came and she taught four years at Covert for $50 a month. In one school she was required to serve hot meals during the winter months. Usually the parents sent pots of soup that she just heated for the children. One day a mother sent tomatoes, milk, and soda for tomato soup. Not being a great cook, the result was very curdled tomato soup. It was eaten but never again did any mother send that!
During all those years of teaching, Mildred was attending summer classes at Fort Hays Teachers College to further her education. She received a thirty-hour life certificate in 1933, but kept going until she was awarded a degree in 1966. There were times when parents were uncooperative but that was the exception. Mildred taught the third and fourth grades in Palco for three years but had to leave when her father became ill and she helped to support her family. She spent eight years as first grade teacher in Natoma, then in 1948 she and her mother moved to Haviland, Kansas, where she spent twenty-two happy years teaching there. The Quaker people were so good to her and helped when her mother became ill and died.
In 1970, at the age of 66, Mildred retired and moved to Hays, Kansas. Not satisfied to be idle, she volunteered as one of the first “pink ladies” at Hadley Hospital there. She continued to do this for seventeen years, retiring in 1988 when she moved to the Epworth Towers in Hays. Mildred’s 45-year teaching career influenced quite a few nieces and nephews who subsequently chose teaching as their career as well.
Mildred passed away in Hays on Christmas Day, December 25, 2001. She was laid to rest in the Natoma Cemetery.