May the Earth Rest Lightly on Thee

In its early years, Caledonia High School was, for the most part, a miserable place. Many former students who attended the school in the 20s, 30s and 40s would attribute this to the first principal, T.J. Hicks, who maintained a vice-like grip over the school for 33 years. (1924-1957)

His practices included a prohibition of dances and other social gatherings within the school. This, however, didn’t stop the students from having their fun. Parties and dances were often planned by the student body and held privately at different houses and farms around Caledonia.

In May 1945 the students had planned a Sadie Hawkins dance to take place on a farm just outside of town. The girls built up their nerves and asked their sweethearts to the dance. Unfortunately for the boys, there weren’t nearly enough girls for everyone to have a date. Instead, some of the boys got together in groups and planned to go to the dance regardless.

On the night of the dance, brothers James and George Wilson, who didn’t have dates, decided that they would drive up to the farm together and try to get a dance or two out of some of the girls who already had committed dates.

About a mile from the farm, they saw a young woman walking along the road in the direction they were driving. When they approached, they saw what a beautiful girl she was and pulled over to ask her where she was heading. The girl, who introduced herself as Eleanor, told them she was going to a dance, but she didn’t have a ride from town. James leapt from the car, and opening one of the doors, offered her a ride. She gladly accepted the offer, and before long all three teens were having a ball at the dance. Eleanor was a hit at the dance. The boy’s lined up around the room to have the chance to dance with her, leaving many of their dates widely disappointed.

At the end of the night James and George offered to drive Eleanor back into Caledonia. Once again, she took them up on their offer and climbed into the car for the drive back to town. Noticing that Eleanor was shivering, George offered his jacket, so she wouldn’t catch a chill. She directed the boys to a small farmhouse in Seneca, where she thanked them for their help and disappeared into the house.

The next day, George realized that he had forgotten to get his jacket back from Eleanor when they had dropped her off after the dance.  James and George decided to drive back out to Seneca that afternoon and pay Eleanor a call to retrieve the jacket. When the boys arrived at the spot that they had left her the night before they were bewildered. Where there was a farmhouse the night before, there was now a ditch overgrown with weeds. As they looked around at the field in awe something caught George’s eye. At the back of the property there was a small cemetery. In front of one of the stones was George’s jacket, neatly folded. The boys gazed at the jacket, and then read the inscription on the stone:

“Eleanor Leckie


Sit humus requiem leviter in te”

Trans: May the earth rest lightly on thee.


After their adventures, James & George took up Principal Hicks' views and decided never to attend another school dance again.