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Dave Goes Back in Time at Elementary School Reunion

Beacon Central High School, formerly Masonville Elementary. (Photo by Dave Spencer)

When I pulled up to the former Masonville Elementary School–now Beacon Central High School–it struck me, immediately, how small it seemed. THIS was the cavernous building I walked into for the first time nearly forty years ago?

A couple of months ago, I learned–via Facebook–of a reunion planned for June 24th at Masonville. Of course, I was on board. Before Sunday, I hadn’t been in the school since 1977, when I finished 5th grade. So I was anticipating hallways and classrooms that were much smaller than I remembered them. And that is exactly what happened.

Aside from the computers and other equipment that are there for the Beacon students and the library now located where the cafeteria used to be, the old building looked pretty much the same. I couldn’t believe how narrow the halls now seem. I was amazed that the floors are exactly the same.

Masonville gym--I killed in dodge ball...well, not literally. (Photo by Dave Spencer)

I was shocked to see actual chalkboards–most all of which have now been replaced by dry-erase boards. I was not shocked, however, to see a LOT of people, including former teachers.

Clearly, everyone who wanted another look and a big dose of memories arrived to soak it all in. And, I gotta tell ya, the memories just kept bubbling up. I went into the gymnasium and discovered it hadn’t changed a bit–the stage, the basketball goals, even those old red gym mats. I remembered all those Christmas shows we had there.

I remembered that little room next to the library, downstairs, where they took all us kids and checked us for scabies. Now, there’s a memory. I remembered what a great honor it was to get to vacuum the erasers. I don’t remember WHY it was a great honor, but it was.

Mrs. Martin's class...where the desk remains the same. Eerie... (Photo by Dave Spencer)

But the one thing just about every former student remembered was…Mrs. Martin’s 1st grade class. Well, everyone who had Mrs. Martin for 1st grade, that is. I remember all of my teachers, but Mrs. Martin–just as it is for so many others–stands out because I was terrified of her.

We all gathered in that basement classroom on Sunday afternoon–old friends, people I hadn’t seen in decades, my sister–and reminisced about Mrs. Martin and the fear she instilled in all of us. The creepiest thing was that the desk in that room was exactly where she kept her desk 40 years ago.

You know, the only time I ever got spanked was in her class. I’ll never forget it. I asked someone at my table if I could borrow a red crayon. I whispered it. Barely audible. Mrs. Martin–who was in a reading group on the other side of the room–was suddenly standing behind me.

“Didn’t I say, ‘No talking?'”

I nodded.

She said, “Stand up!” And WHAM! A thick teachers’ edition reading book met my rear end. She asked me if I was going to talk again. I shook my head, but said nothing. That felt like a trap, and I wasn’t falling for it.

It was stories like that that we all shared and it was a blast. I can’t remember exactly when Masonville stopped functioning as an elementary school. But I think it was sometime in the late 90s.

Regardless, it was incredibly generous of Beacon Central to open its doors on a Sunday afternoon so a great many of us could take a trip back in time.

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