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Thinking back, old school

Something dawned upon me the other day while I was watching my old high school being torn down. I was flooded with memories, all of them good. In the end, I don't know if all the memories in that old building were completely dependent on the building. The memories I had were of one thing: high school. They just happened there. I was excited for the future thinking that they were going to put up a new home for memories ... my kids' memories.

I guess I had really not been that affected by the school to that point. I have actually been glad that the tornado chose to take out an empty school, not a neighborhood. Last week, I was driving by and saw two guys with heavy equipment tearing up my school. I don't know why, but I had to stop and watch.

They were destroying the old principal's office at the time. More specifically, the old detention room. On a side note, I have always found it ironic my old detention room became the "career development center." That is why it hit me that day ... it was my old school. The Indian school, not the newer Wolverine school. I was not looking at any of the additions or changes, but directly into the heart of the old school.

I was instantly taken back to 1987. The first image I saw was my old history teacher Frank Kohoutek on my first day as a freshman. He was walking down the hall, bending over, peering below the TV as he pushed the "AV Cart" toward his room. I will never forget how funny I thought it was. To most, the humor wore off; we became used to seeing it. However, I always enjoyed the first day of school watching all the freshman see this for the first time. It took me back.

I was flooded by very random memories: Kangaroo Court watching two upperclassman spit gum all the way across the gym ... into each other's mouth. Learning the ways of rock and roll with the help of Mr. Langlie in the band room. Small Gas Engines with Mr. Zimmerman. I laughed out loud thinking about Mr. Aus. Not for any particular reason other than how fast he walked on the way to the bowling alley.

I thought of all the wonderful friends and rivals. I thought a lot about Curt Wallgren. He was my best friend and we caused a boat load of trouble. I lost Curt to a car crash years ago now. In the big scheme of things, I wish Curt could read this more than anyone else. He would love it -- he lived it.

Then I wandered in my mind to Bill Burns. I think everyone had a teacher in their day that helped them become an adult, someone to believe in them for who they are and demand they excel. For other people, I call their mentor "your Mr. Burns." It just happened that my Mr. Burns was the real deal.

I looked over my shoulder and I saw the remains of the old swimming pool. Holy cow, there were a ton of memories in that thing too. All the lifeguards names on the ceiling, hanging on the fence and the summer of the "poop in the pool" scares. But we all know why that pool rocked so hard: the high diving tower. If you ever saw Mike Jacobsen or "Caveman" jump off of that baby, you know exactly what I am talking about.

All of a sudden I started thinking about the old Junior High building. Aside from being home to roughly 47 million bats, it was also my school. It was old and run down and lent itself perfectly to trouble making.

Some of my highlights: When the firehose turned the stairs into a beautiful waterfall, Bill Larson almost wringing our necks on the first day for not knowing how to open our combination lock. I remembered how loudly the books would travel in the air vents from Mr. Kangas' to Mrs. Sundsrom's rooms. What pure darkness looks like in the Choir Room, the entire class hiding from Mr. Stave in the wall behind the hallway. Perhaps the best memory was Baldy shouting out our grades with "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog or Fox."

Some of my best memories were in what we called at the time "the big gym." This is our only gym now. For my money, it is still one of the greatest sports venues I have ever been in. I hope the planner at our school don't try to build a new gym for varsity games. They are sitting on a gold mine. It is plenty big and LOUD. If you were ever at an old District 24 tournament game, you will agree with me.

Just then I saw a truck drive right through the old high school. I was all smiles at this point. I just took a trip in my mind through three great old buildings. In a month, they will all be gone. Again, I was at ease. Yes, these places were now gone, but not my memories. The good times I had in school were not because of the buildings ... they were in the buildings.

Fate has dealt us an interesting hand. Instead of hanging our heads on what was lost, let's all move on. Whatever they build us, it will provide many a trunk full of memories. Our new school will not be exactly what any of us dream it to be. However I sincerely hope they use the old "Big Gym" for all it is worth. Our school will be our home for a long time. So, get involved, offer to help, or just support the school.

We need a school that draws kids from miles around. Honestly, that has more to do with attitude than bricks and mortar. Are we losing our school? No! Wadena-Deer Creek is getting a new home!