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Thanks to those folks

By: Cathie Shaffer
The Greenup Gazette

Certain people come into one’s life, perhaps only for a short time, but they make an impression carried for a lifetime.

I’m more on to look forward that back, but sometimes nostalgia shows up to keep me company. On a recent blistering hot day, I chanced upon a box of old pictures as I was cleaning out a seldom-used drawer. Among them was a picture of my old school, taken after it was closed but before it was sold to a church.

Moments on its grounds came flooding back from sitting in the stands at baseball games to bus rides, school dances and busting my front tooth while roller skating on a wide expanse of concrete.

The hallways of the stout brick building were cool after recess and the gym had that magnificent echo of cheers as our basketball team took on a tough opponent. I can close my eyes and see my seat on the bleachers where, as a member of the band, I tooted my clarinet during pep rallies and breaks in the game.

That same gym was where I discovered sit-ups and I are not friends. It was the scene of my proms and the launching pad for my future when I crossed the stage and accepted my diploma.

Ridgeville Corners, Ohio, is a very small town and the school played an important part in its social life. I failed to understand or appreciate then the many people who made my tiny hometown so wonderful but I do now.

There was my third grade teacher who taught me math and how to tat. There was There was the balding sixth grader teacher we called “Chrome Dome” behind his back who had the world’s worst jokes but we laughed anyway.

For several years, my mother was the librarian there. She often enlisted my help before and after school to put away books, organize the shelves and help decorate the bulletin board outside the library door.

Behaving in study hall wasn’t difficult for me. First, I was one of those obedient students who hated getting in trouble. Secondly, the study hall opened onto the library where my mother was and I knew she could be there in mere seconds if I misbehaved in any way.

So many of those people from my younger days have faded to the far recesses of my memory, revived when someone mentios their name or says “Do you remember…”

Oh, yes, I remember Gertrude. She was my mother’s friend, a stalwart in the America Legion Auxiliary and one of my Girl Scout leaders. 

And Toots. That wasn’t her real name, of course. She had a hair salon inside her home and knew her clients’ secrets, although she’d never tell.

My father would go to the barber shop for just a trim and come home with all the local gossip. My grandfather played cards at the local restaurnt/bar every afternoon, drinking coffee while some of his playing pals enjoyed a beer.

Time, I know, can soften the sharp edges of reality and make things seem better than they were. Honestly, though, I can’t say that’s the case with me. Yes, the lesser side of the human condition existed there. We heard the rumors aboutwho drank too much, which wife was afraid of her husband and the kids who were destined for a less than stellar future.

But we also knew when the fire whistle blew, the men would leave whatever they were doing and rush to the station. There’s a classic story about one volunteer on the department who cut himself with a saw. His wife called the fire department, which also ran the rescue squad. As soon as he heard the whistle, he took off, towel wrapped around his cut arm, instinct making him forget it was for him.

Most of those adults from my childhood are gone now, along with a few of those kids who shared it. Still, though, they live on in the pictures I took or inherited from my mother, in the memories I cherish and the conversations from time to time with those who were there.

I very much enjoy the present and look forward to the future. But I also thank the past for making me who I am today.

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