When I received the news, it felt like a personal affront. The school system in the town where I spent my formative years voted recently to demolish MY elementary school. How could they make such a decision? I was not consulted! My opinion was never sought after. The very idea!
I learned to read within the walls of that building. I heard the tales of Brer Rabbit from my second-grade teacher in one of those classrooms. I was taught cursive writing by my third-grade teacher. And I even had a male teacher in the fourth grade! I carried my metal “Flipper” lunch box to the lunch room and wore my Green Bay Packer knit hat during the winter months.
It was on the playground at Wind Point School that I was literally forced to tell my friend, Steve, that I loved him following a scuffle at recess. And of course, there were dismal memories too. Hurtful things were said and done out on that playground. I wish I could go back and somehow eradicate the cruel things I did to my classmates.
The end has arrived for Wind Point School. During 2018 the building will meet its date with a wrecking crew. And they will be painfully thorough. When the job is done, there will be no indication that a school ever existed there. Homes will be constructed and children will play in a backyard where we our monkey bars once took up space.
As the chalkboards are crushed underneath the falling walls during demolition, the memories will by no means be erased.
As the foundation of the building is excavated permanently, the relationships formed within the walls of our beloved school on frigid Wisconsin winter days are being reestablished. The relational foundation that the school afforded us in the early ’70’s remains intact.
As the last load of brick and sheetrock are carefully placed in a dump truck, the secrets those walls have held within them since the 1950’s will hauled off for a proper burial.
In recent years, I have learned that none of my friends grew up in Ward and June Cleaver’s idyllic home. Each of us came to school every morning from homes that were less than perfect. I have learned a lot about the families of my classmates in recent years. I am amazed at the extent of my foolish innocence and complete inability at that age to feel any hint of empathy.
As I reflect on the imminent demolition of our beloved school, I am grateful for the restoration of so many relationships. I am looking forward to our recess time when we have the privilege of getting together. I will eagerly express my affection instead of being forced to communicate it by an irritated 5th grade teacher. I have permanently erased any hurtful things said or done to me during those years. Such infractions were buried long before the last brick of Wind Point Elementary School.
How about you? Who is that person that you need to find a reconnection with? Is there a friendship marred by conflict? Has the busyness of life overwhelmed you to the point that you have neglected a valued relationship? There is no reason for the relationship to be demolished and buried. Buildings are expendable. People are not.