Dolly Sewell (“War Horse”)

While visiting with my parents yesterday my Dad told a story. I had heard it many time while growing up but had forgotten about it until he told it again. There were some additional details I noticed this time which I hadn’t put in proper perspective before.

The story, from about 75 years ago is about two students in Dads class at the Teakean grade school. It happened about 1936 when Dad was in the 6th or 7th grade. I decided to post it here so it would have a better chance of being remembered and some other people might appreciate it.

There were only about 10 kids in all eight grades so there was no hiding in the crowd or any hope of not being identified if you pulled off a prank in public.

A girl in the grade ahead of Dad was named Dolly Sewell. At age 13 or 14 she had hit her growth spurt and was taller than any kid in the entire school. She could also run far faster than anyone else. In any foot races she out distanced by a large margin the next fastest runner. Another student was Leon Coe. He was a little bit of trouble maker and, as boys of that age are prone to, liked to tease the girls. Because of Dolly’s height and running abilities Leon started calling Dolly “War Horse”. This was not a reflection on her general appearances as she was really a very nice looking girl. But Leon should have thought things through a little better before he decided to push things a little too far with someone he knew was his physical superior.

One day at recess Dolly and some of the other girls were playing jump rope. I was just an old length of rope they found. Nothing special but it worked. Leon started daring Dad and some of the other boys to grab the rope and take it away from the girls. No one would take him up on his dare and finally he said, “If none of you guys are brave enough I’ll show you how it’s done.” He then ran over, grabbed the rope and took off back to his buddies who were watching. Dolly took off after him and he tossed the rope on top of the roof as he went by. There was a ladder leaning up against the building and Dolly used the ladder to recover the rope.

As Dolly came down off the ladder she spotted Leon and Dad told Leon that he better get out of there. Leon took off running as fast as he could and Dolly, rope in hand, took off after him. Even though they were not supposed to leave the property of the school Leon took off through the gate. Dolly followed him and easily caught up. She didn’t try to knock him down but instead trotted along behind and used the rope as bull whip and repeatedly smacked him on the rear side as Leon tried in vain to escape. They were just disappearing over the top top of the second hill when the bell ran and the rest of the kids went back to class.

A few minutes later Dolly came back and sat down in her seat looking cool, calm, and collected. Leon came back several minutes after Dolly all sweaty, very bedraggled, and presumably wiser.

Dad saw Dolly a few years ago at the Old Timers Picnic at the Teakean Grange Hall. She had apparently done quite well. She and her husband lived someplace in California and had flown their own airplane up from California to attend the picnic. Dad asked what sort of business they were in and got a somewhat minimalist response of “the hamburger business”.

Dolly died last year and is buried near her parents in the Teakean cemetery.

What I hadn’t noticed before was that Dolly’s last name was Sewell. Barbara and I had a classmate when we went to High School in Orofino by the name of Nancy Sewell. Nancy’s parents were very good friends with Barb’s parents so when I got home I asked Barbara what Nancy’s father name was. It was Jim. So I then called up Dad and asked him what the names of Dolly’s brothers were. Dad said her siblings were named and were born in this approximate order: Ida, Lora (both missionaries) , Wally, Dolly, Elmer (who later drove the truck which pulled my Great Uncle Walt’s mobile home from Lewiston where he bought it to the farm where he lived for several years), Walter, and Johnny (who was a car salesman in Orofino for several years). Her parents were Charlie and Alice Sewell. They only lived there for a couple years but had a home on the east side of Meridian Road just north of the turn in for the shooting line at Boomershoot.

They may not be related at all but at best it appears that the father of our classmate Nancy was a cousin of Sewell family Dad knew. If someone stumbles across this and knows the answer I would appreciate hearing about it.


2 thoughts on “Dolly Sewell (“War Horse”)

  1. I thought it was a good story about how to treat bullies or others who have a hard time staying out of other poeple’s business. “War Horse” probably did that kid a big favor, before he could grow up and become a politician or work for the BATFE.

  2. Dolly didn’t by chance marry a fellow named Snyder, perhaps?

    The Snyder family owns the phenomenally successful In-N-Out California burger chain.

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