Elaine Perry

“I Like….”
Words and music by Hank Fridell
with Mrs. Christensen’s 4th Grade Class
©2011 Hank Fridell



      Elaine Perry

“An apple pie when it looks nice
Would make one long to have a slice.
And if the taste should prove so true
I hear one slice would scarcely do.
So to prevent my asking twice please Mother
Cut a good large slice.”

There’s the Gingerbread Man, Little Women,
Poems and rhymes to recite
I loved school and reading, I was the tall one in the back
And being a teacher was my wish

And what do you know that’s just what I did
And in Bowdle I met Howard
He got a job at BH, and I told him, “We’re done moving”
When we came to our home in Spearfish

I like to read
I like to learn
I like to listen to you
I had two careers
I’m a volunteer
I’m curious in what you do

First a library volunteer
Then I worked for Mrs. Wood
I used the Dewey Decimal System
I liked shelving books by hand

Then I became the head librarian
And did that for 17 years
Now I’m back being a volunteer
Back where I began


Three girls of our own each one was different
Please behave in public
I let them find their own way
I listened to what was on their mind

Parenting was such a challenge,
Grandparenting is such a joy
Sometimes in giving books to the grandkids
I overdo it at Christmas time


Hi! My name is Ruth Elaine Perry. My mother wanted me to be called Elaine so that is the name I have gone by my whole life. I was born in Yankton, South Dakota, in 1938.

I was the middle child of seven children and have always lived in South Dakota. My dad was a farmer, but we lost the farm during the Depression. We then moved to town where my father could be a truck driver and later we moved five miles out of town.
I attended a country school from third grade on. There was no electricity or running water, and we had to use an outhouse! During my sixth grade year, we received electricity and this was great!

One childhood memory I recall was a day when there was a blizzard. I had a fit that day because Dad said I couldn’t go to school, and I absolutely loved school and books. Dad finally gave in and he took me to school because I was mad. When we got to school, the teacher said, “No school because of the blizzard!” My dad was so upset with me that he made me walk the last half a mile to our home!

My first job was being a secretary while working to get through college. I attended Yankton College and in four years I received my Bachelor’s Degree in teaching, something I had always wanted to do. After receiving my degree, I taught high school English for five years. Now, Yankton College is a Federal Prison!

While teaching in Bowdle, South Dakota, I met Howard. He was also a teacher and taught business. We were married July 19, 1962. Forty-nine years is a long time, but it is still worth it!
The most exciting part of my life was the birth of our three daughters, Paige, Cathy, and Sharon.
I wanted a family since I was raised around a large family. My life revolved around family and I wanted my girls to be an addition to society. My oldest daughter was very social, my middle daughter always wanted to learn and my youngest was very shy.

I was notorious in the neighborhood for having “Thank goodness, schools starting” parties on the first day of school! As soon as my daughters were dropped off at school on the first day, the party would commence and often go until school was over at 3:00 p.m.!

I started working at the Spearfish Public Library ten hours per week. It was the best job I ever had. One of the highlights of working at the library was being head librarian for 17 years and the planning and completion of the new library.

I now have two grandchildren: Kristina and Raul that live in Ohio. They are two of the best grandchildren in the world! The best thing ever is being a grandparent!

Right now I volunteer at West Elementary in the Library shelving and cataloging books. I am also my church’s librarian.

My advice to children is to read, read, read! You learn so much from reading. Also, listen to adults; they have a lot of knowledge to share!

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