In the late 1940s, a penny went a long way. With just five cents, a child could wander to his local grocery store and treat himself to a Hershey chocolate bar. Moms could buy Kellogg's Corn Flakes for just 12 cents a box. But it was in the late 1940s that school children across North Dakota pooled their pennies for a greater cause.
It was thousands of collected pennies, and the craftsmanship of Mandan stone carver Hynek Rybnicek, that brought about a monument to children. Located at the International Peace Garden, the monument was dedicated in 1950. Lovingly carved from mahogany granite, the marker carries the inscription: "Under God Let Child Love Child and Strife Will Cease." As a gift to the young people of Canada and the United States, the marker was sponsored by the Young Citizens League of North Dakota.
Born on this day in 1887 in Brezi, Bohemia (now known as the Czech Republic), Hynek came to America to avoid required military service in his homeland. An advertisement looking for a stonecutter brought him to the Bismarck area. While carving tombstones may have been his start in the capitol city, historians remember Hynek Rybnicek for his work on the Capitol building. With the recommendation of Governor George Shafer, Hynek was chosen to carve the final cornerstone for the "new" Capitol building. A massive Canadian boulder was transported to Morton County, and Hynek, who was Mandan's self-proclaimed "biggest chiseler," had his work cut out for him. Historical photographs from 1933 show Hynek standing upon the giant rock, along with architect Joseph Bell DeRemer, Capitol groundsman William Dobsen, and Ernst Warner of the Capitol Commission. Hynek recalled the cornerstone was a difficult job, as the Capitol building was already under construction. The cornerstone had to be an exact fit. When completed, the cornerstone was filled with a copper-lined box containing historical documents and artifacts of the day.
North Dakota history remembers Hynek Rybnicek for his part in our "new" Capitol building. But it is the Children's Peace Marker at the International Peace Garden that was Hynek's pride and joy. And it all started with...a penny.
Dakota Datebook written by Jill Whitcomb
MANDAN Historical Society website- Hynek Rybnicek-http://www.mandanhistory.org/biographieslz/hynekrybnicek.html
International Peace Garden website- http://www.peacegarden.com/children.htm
Food Timeline>historic food prices website- http:// www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq5.html#candybar