LaPaz: going back to school

When I wrote a short post about my old elementary school in LaPaz, I never would have expected all of the interest expressed in those good old days by readers who stumbled on this blog. It made me realize that a second post was warranted.

It just so happened that I was on the former site of the school on Saturday and snapped a picture of my son by the memorial sign in front of the volunteer fire department building that now occupies the site. I still feel a bit cheated that our school was demolished while Lakeville's school has become a center for the community. While this post may seem a bit jumbled in the recollections, I wanted to stir the memories of others who called LaPaz home. My grandma gave me her old 110 camera complete with flash cube technology in the spring of 1981-had it not been for that I wouldn't have any pictures-the few I do have.

The oldest part of the building was constructed in 1905, and was designed by Jacob Ness, a Plymouth architect who designed a number of churches and large commercial buildings in town (more on that at another time). When school consolidation occurred in the late 1920s the larger part of the building was constructed in 1928. Only two schools remained in the township: LaPaz and Linkville. The newest part of the building was built in 1954 and housed the cafeteria. On Saturday Ronnie McCartney (Mac's Market) told me that was the worse part of the building in terms of heat loss. To that I responded that I remembered during the energy crisis of the 1970s we were instructed to wear our coats during class. Kindergarten through third grade were in that part of the building.

Readers responded to the earlier post with a number of memories including March Market. Everyone looked forward to that. The large trinkety sort of market was set up in the gymnasium. There was a cake walk conducted on the stage (I don't think I ever won!), a "jail" set up in the gym and for a few tickets you could have friends and teachers locked up, and probably the coolest thing was the haunted house set up in the basement. The line for the haunted house stretched out through the building (and frankly, if they had just turned the lights out in that building it would have sufficed for scare factor), but the haunted house-which no doubt broke every fire code in the book-was the favorite part of the market.

Do people remember the bright red lipstick Dr. Bauer (the principal) would wear and God forbid it was your birthday because she would hunt you down, usually in the lunch room, and give you a big kiss. I don't see that happening in my kids' school today-wonder why? There was a caged area constructed in the basement filled with old desks and other items-it was always creepy to walk past it on the way to the Principal's office. Do you remember the small collection of cool erasers and pencils that the school secretary had at her window?

One responder said "go LaPaz Trojans". This baffled me because I had always remembered the mascot as the Vikings. I had to go searching my dad's yearbooks from the 1950s and they were Vikings then, so I'm not clear if and when there was a change in ethnicity from Scandinavian to Greek mascot culture. The old class photos from the 1920s through the 50s can be found in the LaPaz Community Building behind the old ball diamond.

Speaking of the ball diamond, does anyone remember the day the fire department showed up to burn down an old concession booth at the south end of the fields? We watched from our classroom windows in 4th grade (I think) and the rumor was that someone had been growing pot in the old urinals stored there.....that was the rumor anyway. I participated in some rumor milling myself. I told all of my friends the concession booth (still there today) at the north side of the field was looted by bigfoot himself. Then I would bang on the side of the building while friends were on the other side.

OK-now here is one that surely others will remember. The house immediately north of the playground had a sunbather who would climb out onto her roof and all the boys would stand with gaped mouths. The exciting part was when the town marshall showed up at her house, I assume to advocate for decency, and she ran off. I do remember this correctly, don't I? Speaking of the playground, funny how after LaPaz was consolidated with Lakeville Elementary, the playground equipment was no longer safe to use. Do you remember that huge slide with barely any handrails or edge as you slid down at breakneck speed across the polished steel surface?

Someone mentioned that President Ford was in attendance for our Bicentennial Observance in 1976. I don't remember that....I just remember that we had invited Fonzie from Happy Days and he couldn't make it. The Fonz held my interest in those days than the President. Last summer I was at a coffee shop in Plymouth and a woman called me by name and asked if I remembered her. She looked vaguely familiar...but I was stumped. She said, "I'm Mrs. Joyce, your elementary music teacher." And then it hit me like a brick. Absolutely I remembered had just been 35 years!

How about making candy during the Christmas season in art class? Mrs. Peterszack (sp?) was one of the kindest teachers-but who wouldn't love art class? I threw a spelling bee in 3rd grade (I think) because I didn't want to have to compete-I was an alternate and the judges didn't want us to feel left out so I competed anyway. Mrs. Gutknect finished out my split 5th grade year from Ms. Carls as teacher and I was happy to find out that she was coming back to be my 6th grade teacher. I've probably written too much, but would love to hear more stories from LaPaz!


the back door said…
umm....why are most of the pictures of girls????????
Eric King said…
I so remember that big slide, my sister fell from the top of it to the ground. She just bounced back like nothing really
Al Vermillion said…
The person who mentioned Ford being at our bicentennial celebration is probably thinking of Floyd Fithian. He was a US Rep from IN that did attend. I was chosen from the 2nd grade to introduce him. He was a politician and even looked a bit like Ford. I remember we got to write letters to many stars to invite them. I seem to remember Mrs Bauer reading some of the letters we received back from some of them. The ones I remember inviting were Cindy Williams (of Laverne & Shirley), Marie Osmond, Kristy McNichol.

In the playground picture, I recognize Todd Knepper, Bob Fugate and Scott Wirebaugh. They were all one class below me (I graduated in '86.)
Greg Bingaman said…
Isn't that Blounts Garage in the background of that pic
Anonymous said…
Oh my goodness the three girls are Brenda Garver I believe that was her last name and Beth McCartney and me Kelly Rooney!! I lived across the elementary school next to Annis grocery store!! My best story is one year we got snow so high that it was to my waist I always walked home and definitely was not going to make it! Dr Bauer litterally carried me home!!! She was the best principal, she always knew everyone's name and yes would always give ya a big kiss on your birthday with that bright red lipstick!!
Rita Strang said…
Oh that slide! I chipped a bone in my wrist had to leave for xrays that day. But that was because we were not sliding down the slide, we were climbing up the bottom with our hands and someone smacked my fingers above. HAHA!

Oh what memories this brought back! March Market, and the Bi-centennial...Al we are showing our age, but I thought we were third grade? I do remember getting to do lots of running and skipping classes getting ready for the celebration!
Tom Whiteman said…
Not only was Mr. Fithian there, Ed Cook, a state representative from Plymouth was in attendance at the Bi-Centennial celebration. I was in kindergarten, Mrs. Criswell's class, and was supposed to introduce him. My mom had sewn a little "George Washington" costume for me and I was embarrassed. I was suppossed to say, "On behalf of La Paz Elementary School, I would like to welcome Mr. Ed Cook." I got to "On behalf..." and rad crying to my mom! To the Day he died, Mr. Cook always referred to me as, "My friend, Tom." Do you all remember the huge birthday cake for the Bi-Centennial that was in the gym that day?
kelly rooney said…
Awe Tommy didn't we go to March Market together? I think we did but vaguely remember. I don't remember the cake at all or the celebration.
hoosier reborn said…
These are great responses! I remember the giant cake-it's about the only thing that I remember from the event. Except that I do have a vague memory now of Tommy in a George Washington outfit-that's awesome!

Anonymous said…
The lipstick was bright. But you could always tell when she was coming down the hall because of the perfume.
hoosier reborn said…
I about forgot about the perfume-you're right!

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