|Photo: East Lansing Info (no credit given)
Large pieces of equipment were in the lot -- not the playground I remembered, but the big lot that led up to the busy adjacent street. Probably a playground now. I wondered what they might be doing. Gas lines? Some sort of dig-deep technical thing? I whizzed by, mildly curious but not enough to check it out. (Below is what it looked like a few days after that.)
A few days later I was sitting at a memorial service, chatting with a friend whose daughters attended the school. During the conversation she revealed the school was being torn down. A new one would be built in its place.
I have no idea why I felt violated but I did. And sad.
She told me a bond had passed to replace all the East Lansing elementary schools by only 51 votes. A summer election when many of the locals head north or take vacations elsewhere. Or, more likely, just don't vote because "it's just a local election."
Local elections matter, people!
(My personal opinion is that summer elections should be primary only. No bond, millage or other significant tax election should occur in August. Rick's theory is more radical. If 50 percent of the registered voters in the area don't vote, then the race is null. I actually like that but I think it would be pretty tough to implement.)
I digress. For the rest of the day, two trains of thought went through my head. One, of course, was the loss to our community of the man we went to honor -- a wonderful supporter of theatre in general but of one particular local theatre particularly; an educator, an advocate for children's theatre. Bill Helder will be sorely missed.
But I also thought often of my elementary school. Making puppets and covering cigar boxes with macaroni in Mrs. Craddock's third grade class. The death of Bobby Cotter of leukemia when I was in fourth grade -- the second child I knew who had died but one who was actually a classmate. Being in the "Palamino" reading group in first grade (we were the best!). Nap and a snack in Miss Bayless' (later Mrs. Quimby's) Kindergarten.
I remembered watching the first astronauts soar to in space on the black and white televisions that were new to Miss Lee's fourth grade classroom. And I also recall watching the educational television programs (social studies with Miss Bliss) on television -- all produced from the station I would one day work, some by people I would one day call my colleagues.) We made Valentine boxes. And I still have the report on Kentucky I did in the fifth grade.
I remembered my favorite teacher, Mrs. Ruby (fifth grade). Of the dreaded Field Day when we had to do sports. Of Boys Day and Girls Day, Japanese holidays our principal Miss Sloan had for us -- boys brought kites, girls dolls on their special days.
I remembered the lobby with the fireplace in the entrance, where we would sometimes go for stories. And I remember Miss Sloan's Easter Egg tree, which was quite impressive. And I remember school pictures.
I went from being pretty cute on my first day of Kindergarten...
...to the fat kid who couldn't run (yeah, corrective shoes. I STILL wear corrective shoes!) in fifth grade.
I think back to good times. Nancy lived less than a block away. We played Barbies and did trading cards. Remember trading cards?
And slumber parties -- Nancy had slumber party when we were probably about 10.
The twist was in!
The Loomis sisters lived near me too. I've lost track of them and I wish I could find them. We spent plenty of time at their home.
My bestie (we didn't call them that then) Michele has since become a remarkable jewelry designer. Who would have thought when we were playing up north or making Christmas ornaments out of styrofoam balls. (And yes, I was attached to a camera even then.)
And Brownies. Do little girls even do Brownies anymore? I hope so.
And Mrs. Dart's Saturday French class where she tried to turn us all into ladies. With mixed results, I think -- at least at the time!
When Greg and Kevin were in elementary school it happened they went to the same school I had as a child. I remember the first time I walked in to see one of their class presentations. It seemed so small! All the furniture was little and low and the ceilings seemed low, too. The all purpose room was the same and the lobby, but additions had been built. Things were wired. Times changed.
Rick often says "Will a new edition of Word make you a better writer? Will a new stage make you a better actor? Will a new building make you a smarter pupil." After all, Larry "Google founder" Page was an East Lansing grad. He did OK in those schools.
Rick is right. True. Times change. Buildings need to accommodate the internet, enrollments enlarge or decrease. And while we all survived well without air conditioning even in unseasonably hot early June or September, it's probably nice that kids can be a little more comfortable now.
But I'll miss driving by Glencairn, seeing it as it was, remembering where we played dodge ball in the all purpose room or dreaded field days on the playground.
It all started there.