Friday, November 28, 2008

Ghosts hang out at the old school


I know where the ghosts are. They hang out around the old school. Maybe they don’t live there — but that is where they hang.
Henrik Ibsen suggested as much in his 1881 text “Ghosts.” Ibsen said, “I’m inclined to think we are all ghosts — everyone of us. It is not just what we inherit from our mothers and fathers that haunts us. It is all kinds of old defunct theories, all sorts of old defunct beliefs, and things like that.”
Maybe you, as I, have felt them on several occasions. As you wait in crowd to ascend the steps to Ute Pass Cultural Cultural Center in Woodland Park,. you think back to its days as gymnasium — the days in which Friday night crowds waited on the same set of steps for entry to a basketball game.
Or maybe when you read the chalk board messages in the guest rooms of Carr Manor in Cripple Creek. The building, built to serve as the high school and later used for K-12, is the only one of the five original schools in Cripple Creek to survive.
The view from that corner classroom, er... I mean guest suite, how could any student keep there mind on the three Rs?
If you rush down the stairs, past the fountain that now sports a plant in it, and into the Grand Ball Room, you can feel it. ... It’s the same rush, and sounds, and sights and texture of a feeling that thousands of students from the turn of the century, all the way through to 1977, could feel as they rushed to class. The ghosts, we know are there.
Driving by the lonely white one-room building, complete with bell tower and weed-choked playground, out on the Wyoming plains you must feel a presence.
Or in the meeting room of a South Dakota park that was converted from a similar one-room school — yes ghosts. And in the museum in Keystone, S.D. that is housed in the old school where the first class was the largest. The parents followed their lust for gold, the students followed the parents, but the gold ran out and soon, so did the students.
Even in your memories of the Mrs. Denby’s first grade, or of the coat rooms behind each of the class rooms in grade school, and as you wander down the halls in the old High School with all the students from previous classes staring down at you from the class portraits on the walls above.
As you see the rolled up maps that once allowed a teacher to pull down the world, and in the abandoned biology texts, or the old-fashioned desks with the ink well hole in the top near the center edge, or ...
That’s where the ghost are. They hang out at the old school.
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