16 January 2011

LaPaz Elementary


Kids today simply don’t know the fun of attending a 19th century, or early 20th century for that matter, school building. LaPaz Elementary was the coolest. The earliest part of the building was constructed in the late 1800’s and featured a large tower we were all certain held the remains of troublesome students or ghosts of old teachers. It also featured a stone basement in which we had our art class, and a rickety wood staircase that led to the basement that was condemned my 6th grade year. A newer portion of the building had the classic early 20th century gymnasium with a raised stage and wood bleachers. Connected to that was a large garage area used for storage and for showing films. For some reason one film has stuck with me. It was a documentary of how donuts were made and featured a conveyor type mass production system that inspired me to go home and create on paper a number of other production lines. At the rear of the garage/movie theater was access to a basement under the main part of the building. This is where the older kids went for tornado drills. I remember my older sister telling me that the area frequently flooded, was filled with rats, and was thought to extend as a tunnel clear beneath U.S. 31. While the rats may have existed, I doubt the other stories were true. The other truly interesting thing about our elementary school was the newest portion of the building, constructed during the 1950s I presume, had its second floor connected to the second floor of the old part of the school by means of an elevated and enclosed “catwalk”. I do believe that this was condemned also in my last year there. I remember as we would go single file from one building to the other, we would all jump and stomp hoping that the catwalk would bounce. In our minds anyway, it did. What would have happened had we gone hurdling to the ground below, I’m not sure.

This is a picture of the school "tying yellow ribbons round the old" mulberry tree in the front lawn of the school, in hope for the release of the hostages in Iran


Life as an elementary student of course was exciting. Kindergarten-show and tell. First grade-I had a teacher both my dad and grandmother had, Mrs. Tornquist, who sent me to the Principal’s office for taking a whiz outside. I’ve never forgiven the student who told on me. Mrs. Tornquist-in her tight polyester pants with the old lady underwear showing on the back side-was never endeared to me. Second grade-I broke my arm just before school started and had to have an student assistant-Kim. I also had “fat” as a spelling word and promptly used my teacher’s name in the sentence “Mrs. so-n-so is fat”. I think my broken arm provided the grace I needed. Third grade-I became friends with Jeff, a guy who ended up being the best man in my wedding, and I in his, and am still friends with today. Together we built hangars and airplanes out of paper and pencils. Fourth grade-rather unremarkable. Fifth grade-a split class with a teacher I did not get along with, but it was in that grade I embraced geography and history, which haunts me to this day. Sixth grade-I remember holding a mock presidential debate and since no one else would be on President Carter’s panel I volunteered.

I sure miss the old school. It truly was full of memories for generations of folks in our community.

23 comments:

vanilla said...

"I’ve never forgiven the student who told on me."
Let it go, HR. Oh, wait-- that's why you got in trouble! I started my teaching career in one of those Indiana 1890/1930s buildings. Great fun. Enjoyed your story; mine would be from the other side of the desk. Or we can leave it in the tower with the ghosts and the bones.

Angi Wright McDonald said...

I love these pictures! I had Mrs. Tornquist too! Also, I see Mr. Hunt in the picture! I was in a split class in 5th and 6th grade also. Would love to know how Mrs. Downey is doing! What fun memories at LaPaz Elementary! Loved hearing you describe the building inside! Remember "March Market", the spook house was the big hit, and the jail!

Angi said...

Wondering who the boys are in the picture, the one in front looks like Russel Snider?

hoosier reborn said...

Angie,

March Market was the best-especially the spook house-which probably violated every safety code known to man. I had forgotten about the jail-thanks for reminding me. I'll put names with the other photo.

Jenny said...

LOVE THIS.... So many great memories from LaPaz Elem. I totally forgot about the tornado area and the "rats" and "tunnels". I do remember the donut movie, and have actually tried a few times to find it on-line....

hoosier reborn said...

Jenny,

Then I'm not crazy-there was a donut movie? I'm glad someone else remembers that. What a great school that was!

Jane K. said...

I remember the donut movie & saw To Sir w/ Love in that room!

hoosier reborn said...

to Sir with Love? that one I don't recall, maybe for obvious reasons!

Jane said...

I think our class saw To Sir W/ Love w/ Sidney Poitier & LuLu in 4th grade.
Loved March Market spook house, cake walk. The gym stage for Mrs. Joyce's Spring & Christmas programs. Miss Pietrzak (sp?)and that art room....and getting to the art room!!!
I had Mrs. Tournquist in 1st grade as well. I remember her awful liver colored nail polish.

hoosier reborn said...

Looks like I need to do a post on March Market-those were the best memories.

Go LaPaz Trojans! said...

oh my the memories are flooding back -- was just talking about when President Ford visited our school and we made a huge cake decorated like a flag. Got into trouble for droping pencils through a hole in Mr Hunt's, class down to the art room -- lots and lots of stories. Was there when they tore it down and have pictures of that sad day

hoosier reborn said...

I feel like I've started an all-school reunion. Correct me if I'm wrong, though, I think we were the LaPaz Vikings, right?

And I remember that giant cake! But I don't remember President Ford being there, only that we were disappointed Henry Winkler (aka the Fonz) could not attend.

Go LaPaz Vikings! said...

Trojans were first - then Vikings - I have a Vikings jersey from 5th grade basketball. How about Dr. Bauer and Mr Freed. Oh and who could forget the amazing staircases that you could slide down. It was an amazing trip down memory lane - thanks for all the memories!

hoosier reborn said...

Dr. Bauer, who hunted you down on your birthday in the lunch room and gave you a big kiss with her bright red lipstick! Wow-don't think that could happen today!

I never knew it was Trojans, then Vikings...seems like my dad's old yearbooks were Vikings-I'm going to have to do some sluething.

Michele Rutzen Frye said...

Wow, great memories. I remember the horrible, dark paint, creeky stairs, asbestos insolation blanket wrapped around pipes in basement. Remember the caged area?

I experienced a couple injuries there. Broke a finger on one of the large wooden hand rails and some boy pushed me down as he ran to his bus. My forehead met the sharp edge of sidewalk and I boarded my bus crying, with blood running down my face. Didn't want to miss that bus! Gave the driver a scare. (He was the nicest man. Gave each kid a Christmas ornament every year.)

I enjoyed your blog on driving Michigan. I love the historic homes. I moved to TX in 1981, but always said if I could live in one of those homes, I'd move back!

March Market and Spring Sing....always fun too!

I'd love to see photos!!

hoosier reborn said...

Michele,

I had forgotten about the caged area. I think based on the comments this post generated I need to do a few more posts on LaPaz-unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of photos from that time. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

oh man,, this brings back memories, i only attended 2 years then went to Laville, but i to remember the big cake, and the March Market,, anyone remember Mrs. Young ?? i really liked her as a teacher, the only thing i didnt like about the building was the windows i couldnt set at me desk & look out, that was in the newer part...

hoosier reborn said...

I don't think you were supposed to be looking out the windows-that was the point. I remember Mrs. Young, but didn't have her. Her class was one of the two you had to walk through to get to the other class, right?

I plan to do another LaPaz post here very soon.

Anonymous said...

yes she was 1 of the classes, that you had to walk across, now Laville was the best for watching out the window's.. also do you remember Mrs. Kaufman ?? her & her finger nails.. i have since moved away from the area but when ever i pass thru that town i always try to remember the school..

hoosier reborn said...

I do remember Mrs. Kaufman. How about Miss Carls? I don't think she ever liked me very well.

Brandon Thomas said...

Yes! I remember Dr. Bauer and her birthday kisses! Also held band practices down in the garage area on the back side of school. Many great teachers and memories from that place. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to more!

Ron Rodriguez said...

Yes I remember that. She was a a special woman.

Kelly rooney said...

I lived right across from the school and have a lot of great memories and could prob name all my teachers to this day!! I loved Dr Bragg/Bauer one time the snow was so high she carried me to my house when I was in kindergarten. I remember when Mrs Rubesha was pregnant and I was devastated because she had to go on maternity leave, but I ended up loving Mrs Criswell/Dietrich just as much. I have since met Eric Rubesha the boy that Mrs Rubesha was pregnant with!! Mr and Mrs Hunt were always favorites and couldn't forget Mrs Keck with her smoky mint breath!! I was gone when they told the old school down I'm sure it was a very sad day!!