Memories of school days don't just fade away

| Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Believe it or not – and speaking with at least some qualified perspective – no matter how old you get, the memories from your school days don't go away.

They may not be as ”detailed” as one might like, nor are they necessarily factual in the strictest sense. Yet they are impressions – the poetry of your life – and they are more meaningful than statistics.

Permit me to try to explain.

As children and even into our teen years, we are open to what we see and hear and smell in ways that seem to diminish (unless we cultivate awareness) as we get older.

So the value of school and all that goes with it is not just the numbers, the words, the science and the history we learn, but also the simple training in how to live, to appreciate our lives.

Some examples:

— My elementary school was a dark building with dark red brick, dark interior woodwork , high ceilings and a grand staircase to the second floor. It had a huge room on the third floor with a stage and which could be used for gym classes; yet most of us went through five years of classes there without ever going up.

The building was Mom's high school and I think she graduated in that big room. The school was mine, so to speak, from kindergarten in the basement to fifth grade and now it is gone, a playground on the lot and the high school next door is an elementary school.

I remember that omnipresent smell of chalk, squeaky floorboards and snow flying past the huge windows of wavy glass. And also, learning to play the recorder and still not knowing why.

— In golden letters above the high school stage was this slogan: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” How many of us did both?

— Why was the gym ceiling so high (when climbing a rope to touch the beam) and yet the back wall so close to the hoop when running for a lay up shot? Why could the shop teacher be so cantankerous (like Bill Cosby's teacher)? Why did we wear metal cleats on our heels when they were so slippery on hall floors (or announced to the kids in every class that we were heading to the library during study hall)?

— I recall snow plowed high at curbside and how kids created a path atop the piles and walked to and from school on them. And the guy with the oil-burning behemoth of a car that “crop-dusted” us as we walked along the main avenue.

None of these ramblings are important to you because you have your own such memories. Maybe they are school dances, special athletic competitions, walking home or riding the bus, special friends or school bullies, first dates, going steady, graduation.

We dismiss these things, keep them to ourselves, yet ironically they are the fabric with which we crated our everyday lives and which still warm us today.

So share them — if you can get anybody to listen.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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