Today, I took a little drive down memory lane and visited a place where I spent most of my life until I was 18… MissCo Public School in West Ridge, AR.
I’m not really sure who owns it now, but it’s a hollow echo of the majestic campus it once was.
My mother and I drove up to the front and I marched resolutely up to the door of the steps underneath this sign that once led to the Superintendent’s offices and Ms. Wilmuth’s room.
After repeating this futile exercise a few more times, I returned to the car. We drove down to the end of the campus in hopes of finding a human that would allow us to enter and capture the interior on camera, but nothing emerged except desolation and memories.
We turned the car around and I clicked off a few shots as we slowly drove by.
THIS… this is where it all began… these side steps led to the beginnings… Kindergarten and 1st grade.
The Kindergarten program wasn’t established until I had started first grade, so I missed out on daily snacks and nap time. But my baby brother, Anthony, went through Ms. Colburn’s class.
First grade was filled with a lovely contraption called an abacus and stories about Dick and Jane. It’s also where I had my first crush on a boy named Michael.
Across the hall was 2nd grade and stories about Flat Stanley. Next door was the coveted music room where I vividly remember crooning to the tune of, “Up On The Housetop” while practicing for a Christmas program… the teacher rambunctiously playing the piano with me dinging along on the triangle.
On the other side stands the cafeteria where my mother worked and the remainder of the elementary rooms… most notably 3rd grade… it was that room where I spent the better part of the year in a futile attempt to persuade my peers to refer to me as KayeCee instead of plain, old Mary Kaye.
Fourth grade was a blur, but fifth grade brought Ms. Lovell and a glorious sleepover for the girls that included my first introduction to an actual swimming pool. Sixth grade brought my best friend, Karren, who remained by my side until I was 20.
The gymnasium has undergone SUCH changes! The doorway where we used to hide and exchange secrets is gone… replaced by white metal doors. Big drum barrels line the playground in front where the tennis courts used to be. I have no idea what’s in them… not really sure I WANT to know.
But the windows… ah, yes… the windows are still there… somewhat…
The top two rows are boarded, but the bottom ones still shine with the mirrored coating… reflections of the past that have changed so much… trees sway defiantly in the reflections… they seem angry to me… perhaps they seek revenge for their ancestors that were so savagely uprooted with the death of the campus those many years ago…
None of these living trees are as majestic as the one beside the courts that we used to romp around as children… massive roots… perfect hiding spots… skinned knees… ducking from the teacher’s view…
But the windows themselves… What’s behind them? Does the girl’s locker room still stand? Are the showers still there? The benches? Are the echos of games and Fall Festivals still rebounding through the expanse?
Memories of playing Uno and eating lemons in the bleachers while the basketball team practiced on the floor come floating by.
The Valedictorian’s speech I gave on that glorious wooden floor has long since been forgotten, but ironically, I can still remember the shoes that a few of the girls wore that night.
Decay is part of the life cycle… I believe that’s one of the things Ms. Craig taught us in this building during Science class so long ago… that truth obviously still stands…
As we drove slowly by the High School, that decay was further evidenced when I glanced skyward to see the crumbling chimney…
And here it is… my last stop before I left my comfortable surroundings to begin my studies at ASU.
As I sit here, I can’t help but laugh at the memory of the computer lab located behind these windows. We felt so advanced with our archaic computer games. I look around the room I’m sitting in now… at this website I’ve built… the Nook held by my daughter… the Droid resting beside me… the iPad my niece is working on… it is indeed awe-inspiring at how far our technology has come in the past 20 years or so.
The steps that led to this hall are gone now. I’m not sure what happened to make concrete steps completely disappear, but the memory of them is still there.
How many quick kisses were stolen on those steps? How many theme assignments about dogs did Mr. Rowlett hand out in that hall to late students? How many drinks were taken from the fountain?
Who knows? Who remembers? You? What are your fondest memories of MissCo School?