A lifetime in Hazen
Irma Drath graduated from Hazen School in 1939, making her the oldest of the alumni to return for the All Class Reunion this past July weekend. Irma is one of three remaining students from her graduating class of about 22 kids. The other two live outside of Hazen in Dickinson and Beulah.
After graduation, Irma went to college for a year before deciding she could not afford it. However, she did earn a certificate that allowed her to teach for four years in country schools. She chose to go into teaching “’Cause
I liked it.”
Each class she taught held between 12 and 15 students in the eighth grade. After the four years were finished, she worked in town at the bank for 17 years. During that time she grew to know practically everybody but, since the town has grown, she fi nds recognizing everyone much more difficult.
The size of the town is not the only difference Irma has observed.
“Oh there’s a lot of differences,” she said. “Everything wasn’t like it is now… They tore down our school and built another one.”
Irma’s school used to be where the elementary playground currently stands. But not everything has changed.
“[I was] baptized, confi rmed, and married at St. Matthew’s Church,” Irma said.
The centennial of St. Matthews’s church is coming up soon, and Irma said that, as the third oldest member of the church with the other two living in nursing homes, she has been asked to cut the church’s centennial celebration cake.
Irma has lived her whole life in Hazen. She grew up four miles north of town on a farm, and she met her future husband Ervin there.
“My parents and his parents were friends,” she said.
She and Ervin were married in 1943, four years after Irma’s graduation. Currently the Draths have two children, fi ve grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. She and Ervin will have been married 72 years this coming October.