Fortunate Me

When I was going to grade school, I never realized how lucky I was. Having seen the two schools my wife has taught at and my daughter’s school, I now realize I really had it good (as far as school buildings go.)

My grade school was built the same year I was born, so it was a mere 5 years old when I was enrolled in Kindergarten. We had 2 kindergarten class rooms and they were each self contained with a walk-through coat closet and boy and girl bathrooms. Even our paved play yard was separated from that of the ‘big’ kids. There was a center island in front of the coat room with a big basin sink and a water fountain.  All this was in our room.

From first through fourth grade we used classrooms on the first floor. Each room had a basin sink with a water fountain. We had a coat closet and a rolling tool card called ‘T4C’ (Technology for Children) Memories of this cart are why I’ll be teaching my daughter a bit about tools and woodworking this spring..) Our bathrooms were located in the center of the wing and the boys room sported automatically flushing urinals. They worked on a counting button on the door.  I know this because I once saw one of my classmates climb up and press the button continually to make them flush.

The grades 5&6 were on the second floor, along with a special room for what we used to call ‘retarded’ kids.  Except for bathroom calls, they stayed in their room which was even equipped with a kitchenette. I presume they ventured out to go to the gymnasium.

The ‘Specials’ wing had an all purpose room which served both as the gymnasium, auditorium and lunchroom.  The tables and benches folded up into niches in the walls.  It was neat to see it done. The janitor had a special key that unlocked them from the wall. This room also had a stage at one end.

We also had a dedicated chorus/general music room and a band room.

An addition was put on this building some years ago, so I can’t vouch for its continued efficiency.  One can hope.

Anyway, I think about these things because my daughter’s and my wife’s schools both have bathrooms that look like they just happened, not planned in their current spaces. I’ve always heard how this or that closet was converted to a classroom. I was truly lucky in my childhood to have a nice new efficiently designed school. About the only thing I could say bad about my school was that the flat roof leaked in hard rain.  Who convinced them that a flat roof was a good idea in New Jersey I shall never know.


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