Oh don't you remember the days of the old school yard.
When we had imaginings and we had all kinds of things
And we laughed and needed love
Yes I do, oh and I remember you.
(Remember the Days of The) Old Schoolyard, Cat Stevens
This is where it all started for many of us - the Sheridan Elementary School (my apologies to East Enders... it's hard to find photos of the EE campus, but I'm working on a post just for you!). I still have a clear mental image of a sad little boy clinging to his mommy's leg scared to be left alone in Mrs. Tolson's class. The wooden blocks stacked on the shelves or the brand new jumbo 8 pack of Crayola's in my school box or even my pre-jelly-sandwich-smelling Planet of the Apes metal lunch box weren't enough to entice me into staying. I wasn't letting my momma leave me.
The architectural rendering above was scanned out of one of my dad's yearbooks (as were most of the photos below). And of course you see an actual aerial shot above that was probably taken during our grade school years because you see the metal library building between the 2nd & 3rd rows. You can also see a corner of our cafeteria at the top of the photo.
I'm tellin' ya - I can still smell it. All of it. I can smell the classrooms. I can smell the cafeteria. I can even smell the plastic crate full of 31 cartons of sweat-beading milks and one carton of chocolate for the picky kid who wouldn't drink white (that'd be me). Oh how exciting it was for it to be your day to go get milk. Remember carrying that small slip of paper with that single number written on it? If you were to lose that slip of paper somewhere down that looooooong sidewalk, afternoons after nap time would be ruined and you'd always be remembered as the kid that lost the milk count. Of course, you always took a partner, so you could share the burden and the blame.
The building in the above two photos held about half of our kindergarten classes. If you had Mrs. Tolson, Mrs. Birdsong or Mrs. Easton, then you were a part of this classic old structure. Can you remember going upstairs and singing "The Farmer and the Dale" in Mrs. Lewis' music class? Was I the only one embarrassed to be the the "farmer" who "takes a wife"?
Several of us had other classes here as well, including my fourth grade class with Mrs. Haskins. After part of it was used as the school maintenance shop for a while, the building was torn down sometime within the past couple of years.
Can you still remember which room you were in on each row? Remember the heavy wooden doors? The teachers would often prop them open on nice days. Remember the long blackboards... the reading tables in the backs of the room between the boys' and girls' bathrooms... the excitement of seeing the newest set of seasonal pin-ups on the bulletin boards?
And who can forget this sidewalk... the one I mentioned earlier that led to the cafeteria? Remember the cool thing to do? As you were returning from the cafeteria, coming toward the camera view above, the tin sidewalk cover got taller & taller, so we would jump up and touch the aluminum supports as far down as we could. The judging was simple, the further down you could go (i.e., the higher you could jump), the cooler you were.
Be watching for part two of the Old School Yard. I'm going to post some pictures of us playing on the playground. I should be able to find some East End playground pics as well.