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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is Where I Learned to Write So Good.

It be my grade school.

That sign says ‘erected’.

This view looks pretty much the same as it did over thirty years ago, except that there used to be a ‘portable’ right about where the basketball hoop stands. It was an extra room that used to sit on the playground. I always wondered why they called it a portable, because it never moved the whole time I attended school there …but I guess now I know.

The building in the right half of the image used to be where they had ‘shop’ …I think… unless…maybe those are the restrooms.. All of us guys couldn’t wait to get into ‘shop’ to learn how to use power tools and make useful projects like coffee tables and napkin holders. In those days, the girls were expected to clamor becomingly for ‘Home Economics’. I spent my time making working models of execution devices. I made a handsome gallows with a working trapdoor. It featured a little mannequin whose head would yank off when the rope snapped taut. The little mannequin also came in handy for the model guillotine. More often than not, the blade would get stuck before it reached the mannequin’s neck. It was an engineering problem that I never quite solved. I started work on a folded sheetmetal electric chair and was planning on making a little mannequin out of hotdogs, but word of my projects filtered through to the vice-principal and after spending some quality time in his office, I was encouraged to make a lovely mahogany breadboard instead.

I honestly don’t remember the schoolyard looking so grim – so much like a prison.

Remember that movie Schindler’s List where the ashes start falling out of the sky?
(No particular reason.)

All-American dream-catcher

I don’t remember what we used to call this ponderous newer (back then) wing of the building that loomed over the blacktop, but underneath was called ‘the covered area’.

Under the covered area was our arena for ‘prison ball’.

The masters of prison ball were the 14 year olds who could already shave and who had acquired the knack of heaving the red rubber balls at adult-like velocities - with deadly accuracy - at their hapless classmates. I’m not sure what we were supposed to learn from prison ball... beside a real appreciation for gladiatorial spectacles akin to throwing Christians to lions.

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