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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Can't Go Back To My Old School"

I have to admit it bothers me.

I'm on a feed for my hometown's Historical Society through Facebook and I found out this week that my elementary school, Southwest Elementary is closed and has been for a while apparently. When did this happen?

Southwest was your quintessential small town school and a country dirt road.  It had great teachers, a great principal (Mr. Blackwell) and a great playground with a stellar kickball field.
Recess was a celebration in which I would bring a clothesline and we would play jump rope and with a full clothesline we could get quite a few kids jumping at once. There was rumpus games of chase and the worse thing you could do was to throw snowballs which could earn you an appointment with the dreaded paddle (and everyone in the school knew if you got paddled, that was hot gossip among the elementary school crowd).

circa 1975-1976

We had wonderful teachers like Mrs. Vancleve, Mrs. Wonzer, Miss Lolly (Miss Lollypop to all the kids) who not only taught us but, we felt, actually cared about us. Miss Lolly taught us our vowels with puppets (A,E, I, O, U and their friend that sometimes came around, Y). We had America's bicentennial when I was in Mrs. Vancleve's class and as you can see, my role was that of an American Indian. Our lunchroom served triple duty as lunchroom, gym and auditorium. We had tables that came out of the walls like murphy beds and they hinged in the middle. When you were finished with the table, you simply wiped it down and pushed it up to hinge it and it became part of the wall. It was great.

The school was so much a part of my childhood and so many other's that it is just a crushing feeling knowing that no more children will be creating memories there. From what I understand, there just aren't that many children in the school district to warrant it open. I know it's the right thing to do but so many of us cherish that school on Gale Road.

Otisville Graduating Class 1911
A secondary blow came when we heard that they also demolished the original Otisville High School. That school was never a school when I was growing up, I believe the high school I went to was built in the 1960's, but yearbooks at my high school dated back to the turn of the century (when my great grandmother would have gone to school) and it was so charming to see the football players with their leather helmets and big O's on their chest for Otisville High and the cheerleaders with their full skirts reaching their calves (how did they cheer in those). I used to love looking at those yearbooks (I was on the yearbook committee that is how I found out about them) and read how the "Class of xx had a lovely evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. X on Friday night"... and find out there was all of six of them. Or maybe a graduating class was one person.

Progress has to happen and maybe I'm just nostalgic, but tearing down a building is also tearing apart our collective history. The old Otisville High School was in the center of town as it was the center of the community. It had always been an apartment complex when I was growing up and I'm sure it had just finally reached a point that it wasn't all that safe. In my adopted hometown, we have the old high school built in 1930 and they are now trying to save that. A friend I knew was the last graduating class back in the 1970's. The building has grand Palladian windows and the cornerstone marker states it was built in the 1930's. The school lasted for about 45 years. Now it sits vacant and has for at least the 20 years I've lived in our small town. My hope is that it will be eventually converted for use.

So, to honor my old school, I'm going to give you a recipe that all of us kids loved at our lunch time. Our school made the BEST peanut butter goodies (funny to think that none of us had allergies, now these could never be served in school).

Southwest's Peanut Butter Goodies

(Thanks Mom!)
2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup margarine
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together an press into a 13"x9" pan.

Melt 12oz chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp margarine. Power over peanut butter and cool in the fridge until hardened.

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