8 An international Christmas

| November 29, 2015 | 2 Replies
The front gate to Quiet Valley wasn't quite this grand in 1982!

The front gate to Quiet Valley wasn’t quite this grand in 1982!

(I’m sorry, but we got absolutely NO photos of these people.)

Ake Pecha — I was told this means “Start fresh, my friend.”

It was probably around 1982 when Kerrville Festival Producer Rod Kennedy took a trip to the southeast, where he met a group of travelers from the Scandinavian countries. This was the “International School Ake Pecha,” two men, teachers, and three students, Preben from Denmark, Marten from Norway, and Arne from Sweden. We learned that the boys were considered worse than incorrigible, and that the countries really didn’t want them there. Thus, the five-some was traveling the U.S. with dual purpose of presenting the students their academics while showing them that, if you treat the world right, it will treat you right.

fence tossRod asked them to come to Quiet Valley Ranch, and they accepted. They drove up on three motorcycles, two of which had sidecars for the non-drivers. They stayed in the men’s bunkhouse for several months and Christmas was among that time.

I lived in the reconverted women’s bunkhouse, made into a home for me by several volunteers. Ten by 20 in size, but room enough for my bed, dresser, a chair, a small dining table, and an old love seat with the legs taken off, for my Great Dane, Mandy.

Jan, the lead instructor, and I decided to share our Christmas that year. We set up a Christmas tree on the stage, where we could pull that portable backdrop around us for protection against the chilling wind, while we sang carols and exchanged gifts. Jan and I went to H-E-B to shop for Christmas dinner. Two things: they had a special dessert called “rice cream” which Jan prepared and included a prize for the one person who got that bowl of the delicious confection. Another was his choice of veggies – little cabbages, he called the Brussels sprouts he said was traditional in their home countries. A friend from town cooked the turkey and dressing (as my cabin had no stove or oven, just a little propane-powered double-burner). We invited six people from town out for this special dinner. They all came, and contributed traditional American Christmas foods.

Texas wreath tossPreben, Marten, and Arne pulled all the furniture out of the cabin and installed two folding tables from the stage. Folding chairs, too.

Then, we prayed together and sat down to eat together, an international dinner, prepared and served and enjoyed by everybody from both sides of the ocean.

One of my all-time favorite Christmases, in spite of sorely missing my kids, who were up in North Texas with their dad.

I could tell you lots more stories about these wonderful people — and maybe I will. They did not always act 100% within the rules of “niceness;” but were wonderful, because they were learning how not to be incorrigible any longer.


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  1. Vern Crawford says:

    Mary Jane,
    Thanks for sharing this little bit of Kerristmas history!
    Santa Vern *<[;-) }

  2. Diana Payne says:

    Thank you for sharing some “old ” memories of the ranch.

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