Take me back to Thomas A. Edison

Take me back to Thomas A. Edison

I have to admit, I’ve become somewhat of a Facebook junkie. After many adult years in which the level of attention I received was minimal, I rather enjoy the idea of garnering a little press for myself by touting my cooking skills, blathering about one of our local sports teams or by posting a political opinion…which has been known to cause a stir. One of my friends, a “would be” psychologist recently told me that I like to stir the political pot because it’s “a passive-aggressive avenue to travel which validates my need to feel intelligent”. Well! There’s nothing about me that’s passive and I admit that I’m not that intelligent…I just like to stir the pot! So put that in your pipe and puff on it, professor!

Once the political pot has been stirred, I can count on any number of Facebook “friends” to join the fray and participate in what most likely will be a lively conversation. Many of those who participate are folks that I grew up with…people that I’ve known all of my life, at least my life since I began elementary school. I’ve often wondered, however; what horrific events could have transpired in the lives of many of these people which led them to think so differently than I? What happened to them which caused them to develop such political views that are so vastly different than mine? People who come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds should think pretty much alike, right? How could this be?

Since these friends of mine have somehow been led astray and think so very differently than I do, we often engage in some heated battles in which we challenge each other’s political ideologies. These exchanges often end with someone requesting two favors of the person with the opposing viewpoint; to get out and stay out! I have to admit that these debates sometimes get to be a bit tiresome and my finger often hovers over the “unfriend” button before I calm down and move on to other things. I’m quite certain their fingers hover over my “friend” status on occasion as well.

An interesting thing happened this past week, which brought me some hope for the future! Just for the heck of it, I had posted a photo of the elementary/middle school that many of my friends and I attended, Thomas A. Edison School in Hammond, IN. The initial response to the photo was one of great enthusiasm and I could tell many were pleased to see the old building once more. I also had taken several other photos of the interior of the building just prior to its demolition in 1990, so based on the reaction of the initial photo, I posted those pictures as well.

Edison School was more like a castle than it was a school building. Built in the early 1930s, it was constructed with the blood, sweat and tears of depression-era men who worked for pride as much as they did for money. The craftsmanship incorporated into the building would never be seen today, as much of the detailed construction would be cost-prohibitive in today’s environment. Statues built into the cornerstones of the building as well as a terra cotta design surrounding the perimeter of the façade were just a couple of aspects that made the building so special.

The school was constructed with an auditorium that would rival many theatres, complete with a catwalk and a projection room. Yes, I did climb the ladder to the catwalk a few times and only now will I admit to such a caper. Rumor has it that there was also a “bomb shelter” in the catacomb of the building, although I never made it much past the basement stairs before being busted by the ever-present janitor who ruled the grounds with an iron fist.

What really made the building so special; however, were the people inside of it. Since the school encompassed grades kindergarten through eighth grade, those who attended literally grew up together. Not only did we see each other nearly every day during the school year, the playground also served as a “hang-out” during the summer months, as we continued to forge relationships year round.

As the kids progressed throughout the grade levels we eventually worked our way up to the third story of the building, which was normally off limits to anyone fifth grade or below. I guess it’s safe to say that we loved each other and hated each other at the same time. Boys teased other mercilessly when one of us got a haircut and God forbid anyone would drop their tray of food in the cafeteria as a standing ovation would ensue. Still, we looked after each other and no one was bullied to the point of cowering in the corner, as there was always someone nearby to lend a hand if needed.

As I posted the photos of the old school, an outpouring of my friends’ memories came flooding in. Although there were a few comments of anger, mostly as a result of some overzealous corporal punishment administered by a rogue teacher now and then, the vast majority of comments were written with wide smiles I’m sure.

Recollections of events that transpired nearly a half century ago were described in such vivid detail that it was somewhat amazing. All this time I thought it was only me who could remember things like the smell of the freshly waxed floors upon entering building on the first day of the school year, or on the other hand, the smell of that strange powder that the janitor sprinkled on the floor after some sick kid threw up. I hated to mention it back then, but that powder only made the smell worse.

For a day or two, my friends and I reverted back to an age when we didn’t worry about things like gun control, Tea Party nonsense or church versus state issues. Those events that changed many of us from innocent children into opinionated (and sometimes jaded) adults took a backseat for a day or two as we all took a peaceful walk back in time. It was nice.

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