Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Description: Description: Description: darke franklin twp school 
Built: 1926
Closing: 2011
*Demolition Pending*

So Franklin School is scheduled for demolition. Wow. A part of my heart aches at that news. We seem to cherish our one room school houses, those pieces of history that dot Darke County. Yet the old schools that take up property and those which are out of date and probably have lead paint and asbestos in them must come down in order for something better to take its place. Not so easy for this person. That school holds memories.

I've written about about my old elementary school before, but I'm not sure I wrote of special memories inside of those old brick walls. Not those of my parents who graduated from there or those of my sisters who attended the school on the corner of Byreley Road and the Hogpath. No, this is all about a time when I went to school on the yellow bus #16 that delivered me to the back door of Franklin School.

Normal Rhoades, my eighth grade teacher, taught archery to me out by the flag pole in front of the school. She taught me to pull back the bow and am for a target just as she taught me that knowledge lead to success. My Aunt Kate Loxley once subbed for Miss Rhoades. I remember being completely confused as to what to call my aunt. I avoided calling her anything in order not to make a mistake. Having her as a teacher felt all wrong. She was my aunt!

Dickie Neff and I had our first kiss on the bus sitting at the school waiting to take us home. I believe we were sitting in the front seat. I'm sure our driver, Louie, was chuckling.

I remember suffering in the health room not feeling so good. The school secretary, Betty, came down from the office to check on me from time to time. Soon she would marry my cousin Gene and become my like a big sister to me.

My dad helped my cousin, Gene, with the scout troupe in the little garage behind the school. Many a camp out began there. Boys went on to become responsible men. Some made it to Eagle Scout.

I went to my first dance in the gym at Franklin School. It was the first time a boy held me in his arms. One boy had a crush on me. I thought he was too short and didn't encourage him. Later he would grow into a very handsome man. Oh, well.

Teachers: Mrs. Delaplaine, Mrs. Gordon, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Westerman, Mrs. Sims, Mrs. Root, Mr. Franz, Mr. Martindale, Miss Rhoades, Miss Fourman.

In the eighth grade, we lost all of our classmates who were from the German Baptist families. Those children we played with every day would disappear from our lives. We knew they didn't want to leave, and we didn't want to see them go.

We had choir concerts memorizing songs to be sung to parents and school mates: "Teddy Bears' Picnic", "This is My Country". Dance classes where we learned the box step, the waltz and square dancing. The boys hated it, and every girl had a chance to dance with the most popular boys.

We sat in chairs above the railing in the gym or on the bleacher below for school assemblies and basketball games.

Vivian and I lip synced  "Mother-In-Law" at the eighth grade dance. We experienced our first record hops. We wore our pretty dresses to the class dances that took place in the school gym.

Our class was there when the first monkey bars were set up in the playground. We played softball in the fields beside the school. I was hit in the cheek with a flying bat. We pushed the old merry-go-round so fast that I often felt ill. We teased the boys and hid behind the chimney.

Fashion changed: Pencil skirts, sack dresses, fifty yard crinolines, pedal pushers, bobby socks and saddles, poodle skirts and circle skirts, the chemise dress and drop-waist dress. We saw it all quickly changing from one style to another. For farm kids, the fashions changed more slowly getting all the wear we could out of what we had.

"Pam and Jimmy sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love then comes marriage then comes Pam pushing a carriage." Wow, shouldn't someone edit those words!?!? My granddaughters still jump rope to that one. Recess after recess the rope was twirled and little girls jumped and jumped.

Memories. Many old school building are scheduled for demolition. The hallway with pictures of past graduates will be gone, the music room in the basement, the crows nest in the gym, the little rooms on each side of the stage, Herman's custodial closet, the principal's office with the spanking paddle hung on the wall, the kitchen serving mashed potatoes, rice pudding, gooey chocolate cake and corn. Memories of another time.

Mega schools take the place of those once hallowed halls. I live in Oregon, a state that is finding that smaller magnet schools are the way to go for a student's success. The big schools are moving on, or moving back, to a time of small classrooms and teaching in new ways. The once focus on sports has given way to focus on all interests of the kids with equal enthusiasm.

I wonder if anyone will miss these old brick schools. There will be no sign of this generation of school like there is of the one-room school house. Will anyone wonder why?

Thank you, Franklin School, for giving memories of another time, of a group of wonderful kids, of a way of life that has disappeared and best of all, for your hallowed halls that nurtured me. Thank you.

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