Monday, March 23, 2009

Grover Cleveland Elementary School (part two)

In the first picture, the nearest door is the "Boys Lavatory" in the 300 building, heavily used because it was right off the playground. Again, the railings weren't there during my years of attendance. If some kid shoved your face into the water faucet and you busted a tooth, TS, and probably a trip to the office for the shover. The boy's room always smelled of a mixture of urine and pink Luron powdered hand soap. The urinals were the kind that went all the way to the tile floor and the bottom part extended slightly out into the floor between your feet. The same grimey, grubby stains from several generations of dirty-handed little pupils attest to their passing that way.

The second picture shows a room in the 300 building where I attended fourth grade. That year, I was in a combination class of half fourth graders and half fifth graders. While I as at Cleveland, there were three separate waves of kids in the same grade and they tended to keep us together in batches. That one year, the balance must have been off that prevented a full class of fourth graders and the same for fifth, so we were thrown together. Our teacher that year was a veteran and ran the show skillfully if not dictatorially. She was well known for applications of minor corporal punishment.

The last picture shows the west end of the 300 building. I had my fifth grade class around the corner to the right. The passageway on the end of the building, which is partially covered, was always referred to "The Breezeway" which I could never figure out. When I was going to this school, they had a system of pupil hallway "Monitors" whose duty is was to watch the hallways and passages and inform on any other pupils who were up to no good. Kind of a mini Gestapo.

Because we lived so close to the schoolground, on weekends my neighborhood friends and I often played there. Many, many times I've ridden my bicycle through that breezeway because it had kind of a hump in it at one point that would cause the bike to jump up a bit.

I went to Cleveland during the "Baby Boom" and the school was packed with kids from surrounding neighborhoods. The school was so packed that they had quite a number of temporary wood frame buildings (called "bungalows") brought in and situated on the edges of the playground. These are mostly gone now, because the pressure on attendance is much lower. There are very few school-age children in the surrounding local neighborhoods. To fill the school, they bus kids in from other areas where the birthrate has been much higher.

During the Cold War when Nikita Khrushchev was pounding his shoe on the lectern at the UN, local school district authorities got nervous about atom bombs going off. They came around one day and started putting up blast shields (masonite panels) over many of the west-facing windows. This was because the presumed target in the area was the naval shipyard, naval station, and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and that's where any blast might come from. The masonite panels were to protect us from flying glass, but I'm not sure if they realized that the wood frame bungalows would just be blown to smithereens anyway.

Grover Cleveland was the only president to have served two terms non-continuously.

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