Monday, October 3, 2011

Where I Went

After getting the vaccination that was the subject of my last entry, I was all ready to go off to school.

Well, as ready as I was ever going to be, anyway.

At this point, it's very difficult to prove that I actually went anywhere at all.

Despite spending quite a bit of time searching online for a single photo of my school, I found only one recognizable image of the place - and that was by accident. It's almost as if it never existed at all.

This would be more than a bit discombobulating in any case but it's especially discombobulating since I know I spent 9 years of my life there (K-8), my sister spent time there before me, and I can recall at least one of my teachers telling me that the building was about 50 years old - allegedly one of the oldest in the Toledo public school system at that time (1973).

How is it possible for a structure that was so important to so many people for so many years to be almost entirely absent from the ever-expanding photo archives of the Internet?

Were those 9 years I spent within the walls of Cherry Elementary merely a dream?

No, of course not.

And here - for what it's worth - is the photographic evidence in support of that statement that I've managed to accumulate over the years:





This would have been the way I first viewed the building on the summer's day in 1964 when my sister took me for a walk to show me where I would be going. It seemed to me to be a terribly large and dead place at first glance but I was willing to give it a shot before condemning it outright. Big of me, huh?

And not that it matters, but... I think I might be one of the people standing near the doorway in the center of this photo some 9 years after that first walk of over 3000. As a door guard in 7th and 8th grade I spent a lot of standing there after school talking to a few of my guard friends. (Paul, is that you there with me?)


It seems like I spent a lot of my time looking out the big windows when I was a student. I can't imagine what it must have been like for kids after most of the glass in those windows was replaced with more energy-efficient material shortly after I left. Passing clouds saved my sanity! (Or at least left me slightly less insane than otherwise would have been the case.)

Here's a nice aerial view that I snagged a few years ago. The harshness of the brick was softened by the trees and bushes out front when I was there. The prospect of having to sit quietly for much of yet another day was softened for a time by a candy store that occupied an old building that once sat on that empty green lot across the street to the left (south) of the school. That was quite the popular store when I was in first grade or so despite it's extremely rudimentary furnishings. I think the authorities shut it down in fairly short order. It's almost as if they thought kids darting in front of cars and clawing at each other to get to candy as fast as possible was a bad thing or something....

Here's a nice shot of the southeast doors. This is the entrance I used to get to my first classroom (which was behind those windows in the top left corner). These are replacement doors, though. The ones I used were much heavier and painted green. The muscles I'm using to type this are much stronger than they otherwise would be because of those old doors! (I don't think the green paint improved my vision any, though - but I could be wrong.)

A shot of the almost-always-in-the-shade northeast doors. I sometimes used this entrance to get to my 6th grade classroom (which was the first room to the right in the basement). I was a door guard here when Nixon ran for and was elected to a second term. Had I been a door guard at one of the three other entrances that long ago fall, would McGovern have won instead? I wish I could rewind history and see.

Here's probably the best shot of the front of the building that I have. I think it was taken sometime in 2005.

And here's the same scene after they finished tearing the school down in 2006.

An aerial shot from early 2006 (or so I've been told).

An aerial shot from late 2006....

They tore down the school that was behind Cherry at the same time. That would have been Feilbach (or at least it was when I was around). Feilbach was where Toledo's handicapped kids went. There was virtually no mingling between the students in Cherry and the students there. The large paved playground between the two schools was reserved for Cherry students. The Feilbach kids had a secluded courtyard to play in that could only be glimpsed from the north side of their building. It was protected by stone arches and black wrought iron fencing that seems to have extended way over my head. I think it was in sixth grade that our teacher announced that one of us would be spending a day at Feilbach and then would be expected to deliver a report on what things were like. I really wanted to be that student, to finally see what was on the other side of that fencing, but... someone else was chosen. If he (Paul?) ever reported back to the class, I can't recall what he said. I never made it into the place myself. Now it's gone. (There - now you don't have to read Kafka's The Castle.)

One of the last photos ever taken of Toledo's old Cherry Elementary. (Many thanks to whoever took it.) As near as I can tell, that door in the upper right is the door to the impressive junior high science classroom of Mr. Johnson that both my sister and I walked through many times (first in the early 1960s and then in the early 1970s). Or maybe it's the doorway to my less impressive 8th grade home room. The next time I see it, I guess I'll have to ask....

1 comment:

  1. We didn't have door guards, but I was in the safety patrol in elementary school.
    My father has a friend with a picture of the school showing EPA technicians wearing protective moon suits collecting soil samples from the playground while children wearing regular children suits play in the background.
    The EPA's final report was that since the soil contained less than 100 parts per million of dioxin, children playing in the soil would not be at risk as long as they didn't eat any of it.
    Alas, that school was also demolished and I don't have any pictures of it.
    The city is still arguing over how much dioxin in the soil is safe and whether property owners are better off knowing or not knowing how much dioxin is in their neighborhoods. So far the conclusion is the potential effect on property values outweighs any possible benefits of knowing the average of dioxin samples in a given neighborhood.
    I'll stop now.