Thursday, September 27, 2018

Goodbye, Old School

I recently passed by my old elementary school -- the place where I walked daily, five blocks from home. The place where I learned to read and was abysmal in anything related to sports. Picked last for kickball. Corrective shoes. You know the drill. Despite that, I loved elementary school.

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.

51 comments:

William Kendall said...

A whole lot of memories wrapped up there. I haven't seen my elementary school in years. The last time I went in there must have been going in to vote in an election, and finding the gym basketball nets so ridiculously short.

Susie said...

I would cry too if my old school were torn down. I always wonder...why couldn't they just add on or try to keep the existing buildings. My old grade school is not a church which makes me smile. Jeanie, I can see you in each of those pictures...that is if your hair was always curly. So cute and fun. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

Susie said...

Jeanie...that should say..my old grade school is NOW a church. xoxo,Susie

Jean R. said...

I love all your photos, especially the one with you doing the twist. Those pants were a hoot, and I had some like it. I worn correctives shoes and didn't do well in sports, too, so I can sympathize. Fun post today!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

My elementary school was the first to go. Then the Jr. High went. Then the High School, which was right next door to the Jr. High became the new Jr. High. All so sad. Love how you reminisced, though.

Our primaries were also the first week in August this year and we had a bigger turnout than in the previous 20 primaries. People were there to vote on a new candidate for governor, so nothing would have gotten past these voters. However, six summers ago, they passed a bill hiking our taxes so the kids could have AC for three weeks in summer. As a result, ALL schools had to be retrofitted, some with new windows, and other equipment. Over $20 MILLION dollars so kids could stay cool a few weeks a year. I think it was for the teachers, not the kids. It raised my taxes so high, I had to turn my AC off three days a week back then. I since got a window unit, which helps. Now I'm off MY soap box!

I LOVED your photos. It was fun to see you as a child again. Loved the shot of you with a camera.

Valerie-Jael said...

It must be sad to see your old school go, but you still have the memories. As far as I know, the schools I went to in London all still exist, but I haven't seen them for many years. But they are still in my heart! Hugs, Valerie

Iris Flavia said...

Oh, kids can be so cruel, especially when it comes to sport. I was also picked last cause I was always the smallest.
It´s always sad when pieces of your childhood are torn down, well, mostly...
Oh, you had TV in school? And what a career, cool!

Lovely kindy-picture :-)
Well, it must be hard when you can´t walk easily...
We never had slumber parties, maybe not a German thing. Looks like fun, though!
Ow, you two look cute at the beach!

Ah! Now I know where that "The Simpsons" episode comes from with turning girls into ladies! It´s real!

Yes, we did survive without aircon. I remember in Perth sitting outside on the shaded porch with a bucket of cold water to sprinkle it on my skin - these days we have a cabin with aircon and I don´t wanna miss it - getting old ;-)

Tracy said...

Oh, that is sad... to see an old school torn down, a piece of our childhood gone--just like that! :( Whenever I get home Stateside I'm always surprise about how much is different, change, or just gone! Thanks goodness we have memories! LOVED seeing all your old photos and hearing your stories, Jeanie! :))) ((HUGS))

Pamela said...

Your elementary school days look similar to my memories. I loved Brownies and slumber parties were so fun!

Rita C. said...

Sweet memories. My Catholic grade school (one block down from our home place) has also been torn down, through which my 8 siblings and I ALL went through 8 grades (my oldest sister even came back and taught me in 4th grade!). One sister grabbed bricks for each of us and had plaques adhered, made as doorstops for us all. This past week my brother called and said the Methodist church which was just two doors down from our home place was being torn down, as it was crumbling onto what was my parents' rental duplex right next door. Even sadder is a situation like yours, where levies and other votes on "off" cycles get snuck in to make things like this happen. That's politics for you.
We used to flip trading cards Jeanie, a different sort of war card game. :)
Have a good weekend.

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

What a great post! And a fun trip down memory lane with you. I am amazed that you even have pictures! I remember my elementary school's name, Whipple Lane, and walking there. That's about it!

Pam Richardson said...

What a sweet post Jeanie. It made me think of my elementary school days and all the fond memories and I even remember how it smelled. I had wonderful teachers and my favorite teacher was 6th brade, Mrs. Braswell instilled in me the love of reading. My school still stands and is now a Catholic school. I ride by often.

Joanne Huffman said...

I had corrective shoes until 4th or 5th grade - I remember how excited I was to wear my first pair of sandals. I have fond memories of my two elementary schools (they built a new one when I was in 4th grade because the old one was so crowded we had double sessions).

shoreacres said...

I was looking for a photo of my grade school a month or two ago, and discovered in the process that it had been slated for demolition, too. But the townspeople had mounted a campaign to save it. I've not gone back to see what happened with that, but I hope they succeeded. It was such a fine, handsome school -- two stories! And it was right across the street from our house, so it was a big part of my life even in the summer, when various day camps were held there. And of course that's where the bookmobile parked in summer, too. Nothing was more exciting than the bookmobile!

We had so many grade school experiences that were similar. But I have to admit: when I saw those first flights into space, I was in high school. You're a young'un!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie! What a great post, full of wonderful memories. I love the class photos. I went to a Catholic elementary school, I think it is being used for something else now. I have not been back. It is sad to see your old school being torn down. I remember my teachers and friends, lots of fun memories. Thanks for sharing. Have a happy day and weekend!

Lynne said...

I feel melancholy . . .
Love your Real Life stories . . .
This story took me back . . . waaaay back.
My favorite teacher, Mrs McDonald, fifth grade . . . like you!
Why . . . she played piano and that is how we were greeted each day!
There she was, bouncing around on the piano bench, singing her heart out
as we walked through the room door . . . I remember and loved her spirit!
She helped me love my “teased” last name Peacock . . .
I was called everything from bird, quack, pheasant . . . laughed at too . . .

I love that you often “spark” a memory or two for me . . .
And happy you write, tell stories, carried a camera, took pictures . . .
And you Share . . .
Thank you Jeanie . . .

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Enjoyed your memories so much!
I haven't seen my kindergarten school since I left it for last time that year in May! My parents moved from that part of the country and I have no idea if it's there or not.
My elementary years (and middle school) were spent in boarding school - and though I know the school is still there, I have no real reason to go back to that area to see it (though I know it's also still there). I suppose it might be fun to see it, though I have no real desire to do so.
However, LOL, making puppets and covering boxes with macaroni are favorite memories of mine, too! - and spray painting those boxes brilliant gold! LOL
I agree, that it's a shame that voting is held when so many people are unavailable to vote. However, in the last PRESIDENTIAL election, half the electorate chose not to exercise their right to vote ... so, until we make voting MANDATORY and not a right, we're going to have to deal with an apathetic society and the results of the same.
Oh, well - other than that - have a terrific weekend! LOL And, again, thanks for the childhood memories (You were a lovely Brownie! you look exactly the same! My little sister was a Brownie, too.) The French class is adorable ... reminds me of elementary school and cotillion class - UGH. LOL

Barbara @ Fair Meadow Place said...

It is sad when we see bits of our childhood torn down or destroyed. My school is still standing, but I don't live anywhere near it. Most of us, who grew up in the area moved out of the neighbourhood over the years. I worked in the area for a number of years and witnessed some of the more recent changes. It is not the same. I guess you just can't go back.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

So many memories for you. Sad to see the school torn down. I am a Marine brat so moved many times and never stayed at a school very long until High School.

Sami said...

So sorry for the loss of your friend Jeanie.
It's sad to see your school being destroyed but I agree that kids nowadays probably need a better building with modern commodities.
Enjoyed seeing your old photos and I'm amazed you remember your teacher's and colleagues names.

Trip Treleaven said...

What a lovely post! I enjoyed seeing all your photos. I don't see my elementary school (hardly ever) because I left home at 18 and never moved back. I now live two counties away, but still I'd be sad if my elementary school were torn down. I loved my school!

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

Oh this made me smile . . . and recollect MY elementary school days. I felt same as you when I heard my school had been torn down and a new one replaced it. I don't live there any longer but I used to drive by when I visited. Wasn't is all so much simpler back then? I was like you. Not a sports girl and DREADED field day and gym in general. I still have nightmares of "The Rope" . . . now a days they would consider that wholly unsafe to have children try to climb a thick rope all the way up touch the RAFTERS of the gym. And I don't recall a mat or anything underneath, just Mrs. Biondo our gym teacher in her culottes and white sneakers ready to 'catch' anyone who fell!! Loved all your photos! Have you look on Facebook for your childhood friends? I've reconnected with several from my elementary days. Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

Erika N said...

I would hardly call you a fat kid Jeanie. But in those days, having a few pounds always made call you overweight. That was me too. A big reader. Horrible at sports. I am still scared by that so when we have school "games" I will not participate. But like you, there was something special about elementary school. Maybe it is nostalgia for that time in our lives or maybe elementary school was just a lot of fun. (Unlike my school right now, although I have amazing kids this semester). Thanks for the post. It brought out lots of good thoughts for me. Hugs-Erika

Bonnie said...

Jeannie, You did all the things a good writer does in this post.
I enjoyed your memories and were stirred to think of my elementary days.
Sweet pictures that told a good story that should be shared.
Your husband's reflections are very true.

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Oh, Jeanie, those were the days weren't they. So many good times but then there were the times that were horrible and degrading! Oh, if we only knew how good we had it! I went back to my old elementary school a month or so ago. It still looks the same but is no longer a school, some kind of cult thing, it looks like to me! I can remember plays that we put on and sitting on the front steps, singing Frosty the Snowman, while pairing up with your one true love (4th grade), playing Red Rover and running around the building. I don't think I learned much!..Love your class pics. Happy Fall my friend..xxoJudy

handmade by amalia said...

They can take away the building but you will still keep the memories.
Amalia
xo

BeachGypsy said...

Wow!--look at the pretty goblets of milk at the b/day party, love it, so pretty and FANCY! I love this post, so many of your pictures and memories are so like my own. It was such a special and innocent era, a whole different world, really. Love all these pictures....the haircuts, the clothes, the shoes and even the socks bring back memories, LOL! Like you, I fell in love with cameras at an early age. I sure do remember the Brownie cameras......and you HAD TO PUT FILM INTO THEM, HA HA hA LOL. I love the Brownies picture as I was defenitely a Brownie up through Cadet Girl scout, so much fun for so many years. Our uniforms looked like yours but we also wore brown felt beanie caps, little orange ties around the neck (yellow when we went into girl scouts and had the green uniforms), and we also wore white gloves when in full uniform, did y'all wear the little white cotton gloves? Our Brownie troop had so much fun, we did alot of neat field trips and arts/crafts projects and yes, we went to camp, starting with Day Camp when we were Brownies, and then sleep away camp every summer, I sure loved it.

Victoria Zigler said...

They tore down my old school too. Did it when I still lived in the area, and still had sight to see what they'd done. They tore it down right after they turned the big field where we used to play in to a shiny new school. To this day, I'm not sure which bothers me more.

Kids do still do brownies. Also, trading cards are still around, and still enjoy some popularity.

Stacey said...

I love what Amalia said, you still have the memories! You have so many wonderful old pictures from your childhood. We just don't have that many in our family. My elementary school was demolished this past year too. It was time for a new one...

I am a member of a Memories of Mesquite Facebook group. Mesquite is the once small town that I grew up in. It's nothing like it was when I was a kid growing up so it's fun to share memories and pictures in that group.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

One thing that won't change are your memories...and it looks like you have a lot of good ones.

Jennifer Richardson said...

Soooo many memories this stirred! Corrective shoes and fearing the kickball would sail my way to catch (or pretend not to see) and hating the violence of dodgeball and my chocolate-colored brownie uniform and making puppets and, yes, macaroni glued to boxes and then sprayed with gold paint and on and on......so much goodness:) I can so understand how you felt about your childhood school. Connection.

Thanks for sharing; you were such a beauty and I know we'd have been friends:) I'd have whispered let's go out a little farther in the field and make clover chains for our hair while sports were happening;)

Love and thanks for this journey with you,
Jennifer

La Table De Nana said...

Hello!
Tried commenting while away..and it did not happen:(
First I am sorry you lost someone..

But then I have to add I love this post.

I would have picked you for a friend..and I hope you would have picked me back.
We had soo much in common!!! No kidding I tell ya;)
You are so fortunate to have all these photos!
I love the one w/ the camera.
We both loved croquet..in fact I bought a set for my alphabet boys here.
I remember my first school in MTL..an elegant old building..Garcons Filles..engraved in stone on ornate headers..
A most charming post.So endearing.


bj said...

I know things have to change thru the years but it's always sad to see parts of our childhood gone forever. The house I grew up in was torn down many years ago and it made me sooo sad.

thepaintedapron.com said...

Aw, so sad! You look just the same now as you did years ago Jeanie, you haven't aged a minute! You know, they say running gives you wrinkles, so it's a good thing you didn't like sports :)
Jenna

Rowan Tree Cottage said...

Huge sympathies Jeanie. I had the same reaction when I read about Burford School selling off their award winning Jersey dairy herd. There were majestic highland cattle on the A40 field, goats, rabbits, a horse called Princess and new calves to raise in the Autumn term. You could qualify in Rural Studies back then, as Burford was a rural area where farming people sent their children. It also had a boarding house for pupils from further away. Now though the area has changed. Jobs have diversified. The farm has gone from the school alongside its Grammar School status. New buildings are on the farm site. All the pupils can do now are grow vegetables. I think it is a huge loss. More lessons were learned about compassion, life, death, illness, hope, and physical exertion on that school farm than were ever learned in the classroom or playing field. Change can be so brutal. Hugs.

Linda deV said...

Back from vacation and catching up. This post made me smile. That kind of smile that has a little ache attached but with good too. Sweet memories of your childhood.

Hope all is well with you♥

Regine Karpel said...

Great pictures.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Oh my your photos look similar to my old elementary school right down to my 2nd grade class photo. Sad they couldn't reuse the building.

Karen said...

My elementary school has been turned into apartments. Our church (right next to the school) is a homeless shelter. My high school, where 5 generations of women in our family were students, is an immigrant services facility. At least it still has classes within. When my Dad and I attended my daughters graduation, we both commented on how small the place seemed.

Linda deV said...

Just got your note.

HAVE THE BEST TIME EVER!!!!!

My advice....layer. It got cold at the end. Can't wait to hear all about it.

Tammie Lee said...

I wonder if there are a few reasons for feeling sad over the school being torn down. It holds so many memories and a place that you were taught so much. But also because these things can touch on our own passing, that things come and go. Preparation for the final crossing the threshold.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I went to a K-12 school and now some of my cousin’s kids go there. I have fond memories of elementary school - not of high school, though. That was an unpleasant time of my life. But elementary school was fun and that’s where I fell in love with learning and learned to read.

It’s surprising that it was more economical to tear down and rebuild the school v make improvements. It is too bad that the election was in the summer as that is a time of year when so many are gone!

Sandra Cox said...

I hate seeing old buildings torn down.
Sounds like you've got some good memories:)

Decor To Adore said...

Oh, Jeanie, this post made me so sad. Indeed the memories made in those halls were so precious. But even more is knowing that whatever replaces that building will not be as well built. I would much rather that dollar would have been spent to update the existing site.
I did truly enjoy your photos. The sweet BROWNIES!
I hope you are enjoying a lovely October.

Happy Tuesday,

Laura

Danielle L Zecher said...

It was fun strolling through your elementary school memories with you.

Don't get me started on people not voting in local elections! I will never understand how people can think that how things are run right in their own backyard doesn't affect them.

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

How sad! I am glad you have so many wonderful memories. I haven't been by my elementary school in ages. Though I have been by my high school. Have a wonderful week.

Red Rose Alley said...

We always remember our elementary years, Jeanie. I still pass my school every now and then when I'm in the area and have fond memories. What wonderful pictures you have shared today. Love the Brownies one. I was in Blue Birds, remember that? Oh, and the slumber parties were always fun. The picture of your friends doing the twist is delightful, and your first day of kindergarten picture is adorable. Thanks for sharing your memories, Jeanie. Your old pictures of you growing up are treasures.

~Sheri

Marilyn Miller said...

You will always have your memories, but it sometimes is sad. I loved reading each memory too. The school near my house was torn down a few years ago and rebuilt. It is quite beautiful now and has the most amazing playground. D loves going over there when he visits on the weekend. I didn't go to school there, but did volunteer read with kids for a few years. The whole atmosphere has improved in the classrooms with the new building.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

You recorded your memories beautifully here...I am at the age where childhood memories have been flooding back. I keep a book handy to record them when I can, because sometimes they pop quickly in and then back out.

Yes, I think brownies still exist. I recently was at a surface design "art camp" and everyone in the room had been a brownie or a camp fire girl. One of the women was now a leader.

Being a CFG had a huge impact on my life and my professional work. Still does.

What did you do in public broadcasting? I used to love "educational TV". It's how I learned to play the guitar. With Laura Webber!!

Sketchbook Wandering said...

PS The school where I taught had to be torn down because it had been built on a chemical dump! My elementary school had been destroyed in a fire and had to be rebuilt.

I can see why schools would now need air conditioning and upgraded wiring...I will probably never again visit the site of my old school...it would be hard to see the changes you saw...

Katie Mansfield said...

Wow. They should not have had that vote in the summer. Sneaky. I'm sorry about your old school.

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