Back to School

6 02 2012

ImageMy Lady and I made our way back to our hometown of Fremont, Ohio yesterday.  The occasion was an open house at the old junior high which is slated to be torn down later this year.  This was not something that will go down in the annals of time as a “Must Be There Event!”  The forty plus years since I walked the halls of this old learning institution have passed with few memories of my days spent there.  But when I heard about this particular “goodbye festivity,” well, something inside told me this was going to be special; and, oh my, special it was.

The school is a large structure, quite grand in appearance from the outside, taking up an entire city block.  But the interior tells the true story of how worn out the building actually is; lets just say it’s not pretty.  The classrooms, gymnasiums and auditorium were smaller than I remembered.  Everywhere were cracks and peeling paint.  The floors and walls were well worn and past prime with an old style, institutional look about them. Truthfully, it was nice to see the old place again but it wasn’t as magical a moment as I thought it would be as we explored room by room and floor by floor.  But I was looking in the wrong place for the magic; it wasn’t the school at all, it was people that made it special, just like always.

I talked to several of my old teachers, one I remembered not for being such a great teacher but for being, well, a bully!  This certain individual had a habit of making a point to a student who was caught doing wrong by banging them hard against wall.  I was on the receiving end of his wrath one time and still have the chipped tooth to prove it.  (Yes young people, those stories you heard that school was tougher way back then are all true.)

I remember the disdain I had for this individual and how I swore someday I would be in a position to let him know just how rotten of a person I found him to me.  Well a certain moment in this teacher’s life seemed to change that angry disposition he carried and actually became a nice guy, or so I’m told.  When I saw him yesterday a young teacher was talking to him, telling this man how he inspired her so much with his love of teaching and his students that it spurred her to become a teacher also.  Upon hearing all this, it occurred to me that the man I knew, that I wished to rip to shreds verbally no longer existed; and when I shook this elderly gentleman’s hand, all I could say was thank you.  It wasn’t for what he did to me, but what he grew into and became; awesome.

I met another individual who struck up a conversation about our principle back then.  Now here was a man that I was convinced had a poster of General George Patton in his office.  Here was a man that when he walked the halls of the school people moved well out of his way or cowered in the corner (teachers included); a straight laced administrator who held to the proposition that there were only one or two reasons to be in his building, to educate or to be educated, nothing more, nothing less.  I never saw him smile and the only time I ever heard his voice was during one of his stern speeches in an assembly or when we was yelling at someone (and you could have been on the other side of the building and heard him).  But this man I was talking to now, who was in his mid 60s described someone totally different than the person I remembered.  He spoke about a man who shaped his life, who patiently never gave up on him even when he was going through tough times.  He told the story of someone who was loving, caring and always there for him and the people who were the closest; and he told all this through tears as he related to me this man he loved, this man, he knew as dad.  When he finished I thanked him for sharing his dad with the rest of us.  I thanked him for revealing someone I didn’t really know, someone who was true man of honor.

I ran into another old schoolmate who like me married his high school sweetheart and they have had many wonderful years together.  A very pleasant individual, we spoke on several topics from our youthful days, one of which was on the subject of a certain individual we both knew back in school. This person was, what you might say, different.  He was born with an appearance that brought taunts and teases most of his younger days.  My friend, this day, was telling me that he never ridiculed the person in question, but like many of us, he didn’t go out of his way to show friendship either.  An event brought them together years later where my friend found himself at this man’s home; praying with him and for him.  When the end came too soon, in the human understanding of life, for the one, my friend was there as a pallbearer at his funeral.  From classmates, to friends, to family; a tear comes to my eyes and a smile to my face as I write, “That is just awesome!”

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

I could go about other “treasures” I found walking through an old building, but I think I’ll save them for another day.  A building was erected many years ago for the purpose of educating the masses.  It has run its course and will soon be only a memory.  You were brought into this world for a purpose also; God designs all of us that way no matter what level of talent we possess.  What you choose to do with that God given talent becomes the deciding factor of whether you are someday looked at as a memory or a hero with a legacy.  Thank you to the Heroes who give of themselves for others, for me, for you. 😮

 


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One response

6 02 2012
Karen

That was a interesting chapter story it made me realized too john that every once in a while some thing in our lives got to end some how but our memories move on we may not like them or we might that could b good or bad too it depends on the situation of things:: yeah the school is in bad shape even tho some of the rooms were closed off, I took it that the rooms were pretty bad so that’s y too:u know that was the first time ever I”very been on the third floor at all, mostly my rooms were on the second n first floor:::later

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