Monday, July 7, 2008
Did anybody notice how old we’re getting? And we’re not even that old? Yet, somehow, much of the world that I knew as a five year old is hardly recognizable to my five year old.
Today they will demolish Grandview Elementary school. For all I know, they already have. Granted, Grandview was hardly my favorite educational institution. Truth is, it’s hard to find a lot of fondness in my heart for the edifice at all, beyond what it represents to those of us who plodded its musty halls. Mine was a brief sojourn-- a single year in Mr. Wiscomb’s fourth grade class. But I do sense a loss in its demolition.
When I was at Grandview, Mikey Padeken was a squirrelly youth with an energy like a rubber ball. We met against an orange brick wall, finding ourselves on the same team of a game that married handball and dodge ball. Mikey was freaking brilliant at the sport, and I was lucky to be on his team. Kevin Brimhall was in Mikey’s class down the hall. Kevin lived across the street from me and was always confused as to why I didn’t go to Grandview. I had expected that when I finally did make my public school debut, Kevin and I would be inseparable. That didn’t pan out. I needed to establish a little more clout before Kevin could donate his valuable attention to me and my band of ragamuffin hand ballers. Kathy Jones used to wear leopard print stretch pants, and once she wrote me a longish note confessing her unabashed love for me. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I acted like I never got it. Steve Walters was a very nice, very chubby boy in my little sister’s class. He used to talk to her a lot, and I wasn’t sure if that bugged me. But I don’t think he was a threat. Nick Reineer, Ryan Duncan and Zack Elison became my gang of friends when I finally settled in-- does that make any sense?. After some time, I managed to wrestle the affections of Camille Porter from Tim Law (of the very big head). I proved to be valuable on the soccer field and a blooming genius at kickball, so my place on the playground was never challenged. We never had communist day, I delighted in my shifts in the lunchroom, and I sang a solo in the fourth grade program in May. The song I Like You in said program was held in whispers to be about me and Camille. The thought of it still makes me blush.
And did anyone notice when they started plowing under all the orchards? And the fields where we used to ride our dirt bikes? Remember when they cut a road through the Burningham’s pasture, connecting Ryan Smith’s street with Holmes’ street? Remember how new and black that asphalt was? And when they built the Taylor’s and the Bills’ and the Ridd’s houses how bloody huge they were? We called that cul de sac “Celestial Circle”. Remember how we all moved away but our parents are still there? Remember how Kirk lives where all those orchards used to be?
Remember how Sarah Carter and Lori Hurley are already gone? Does anyone remember what a happy child Allen Taylor was?
I don’t feel like any of us are old enough to say things like, “when I was a kid, this all used to be farm land. I used to ride my big wheel where that house is.” Yet, most of us are. And there have been whole families born and raised in those houses. People who never knew the land as anything different. They don’t know what they took from us.
Our kids will never know us as those kids. It will be quite a while before they want to know what we did and where we did it. I will always be Dad to my little ones. But when will I be Jed Wells, who took a sabbatical leave from private school to attend Grandview elementary for a year, and hated cub scouts, and never played little league, and caught snakes in Lions Park, and spent whole afternoons walking to Minute Man because his mom wouldn’t let him ride his bike off the hill?
Posted by J Wells at 1:19 PM