Friday, December 17, 2010

Going Back

The last time I was in the Brooklyn Elementary School in Brooklyn, PA was back in July of 1985. I had just resigned from my teaching position in order to move my family to North Carolina, and I went back to my classroom for about 30 minutes to gather up my personal belongings. While I’ve driven by the building every time I visit the area, I have never had the opportunity to go inside. However, during a recent visit to northeastern Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to spend a little time in the classroom where I taught sixth grade from 1975-1985. What a thrill to be able to ‘go back’ to the place where I have so many happy memories of working with students who were 11 and 12 years old when I knew them, and are now…well, much older!

The Brooklyn School was built in 1924, so it was over 50 years old before I ever set foot inside. It is a two story brick building…3 stories if you count the basement level. The interior, typical of the era, was constructed of plaster and lath. It had old cast iron radiators and large window panes with iron sashes. These windows, which have since been replaced, covered the entire width of the outside wall, and could be opened in, with chains supporting them in the open position. There were hardwood floors throughout, and though they were not always smooth and even, the wood itself was beautiful. Located in a rural school district, the school housed (during my tenure) one classroom for each grade K through 6. There were a couple of small offices on the top level, and a cafeteria, bathrooms, and boiler room took up most of the basement level. It was a simple building, but very functional for roughly 150 students.

The building remained an active elementary school until 1992, when the district opened a brand new consolidated elementary school across from the existing Jr./Sr. High School. Since then it has been used intermittently as a township building. The cafeteria has been turned into a municipal office, and part of the playground is now home to trucks, snow plows, and other road equipment used by the township. The remainder of the playground is now a town park.

The first floor classrooms are still being used occasionally by the township, so they have had some modifications made and are in good repair. The building serves as a polling place, and is where monthly township meetings take place. The local historical society also holds their annual meetings here. As I stood in the hallway, I was amazed at how familiar it seemed.

The second floor, where my classroom was located, is a different story. While all but one room still has electricity, this floor is only used for storage, and is no longer heated or cooled. Because of the extreme temperature fluctuations, the plaster is curling away from the lath and falling in chunks to the floor. Aside from that, however, I was quite surprised to see how little it had changed. The replacement windows made it look different, but otherwise, it was almost as I had left it. A sign that I had made and placed on the door 35 years ago that said “Fire Exit Left” was still there. My classroom bookcase was still there. And while the bulletin boards and blackboards had been removed, the floors and walls and closets remained just as I remembered them.

It was a chilly day, so I didn’t stay long. But while I was there, I could almost hear the chatter of a busy classroom full of students. If walls could talk, there would be stories I could listen to for hours. It was a wonderful experience to remember the happy times spent there. Among the happiest were the 15 minutes after lunch recess when I read aloud a chapter from the Narnian Chronicles. Ringing in my ears are the words that start the series…”Once upon a time there were four children named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.” Those words still give me the chills.

We can’t always go back like I just did. Buildings get torn down and replaced. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to revisit, for just a few short minutes, a place that has such meaning to me, and also to share a cup of coffee with 3 former students while I was in town…one of whom was a member of my very first class.

Funny how they've gotten older, but I haven't!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday in (Cold) Atlanta

Before it really gets started in earnest, I’m done with the cold weather. It reminds me how much I like wearing shorts and flips. It’s 34 with a stiff wind in Atlanta, and it feels like the dead of winter.

On my flight today, I was introduced to a frequent flier website ( by my seatmate. It has all kinds of information about promotions offered by the various frequent flier programs out there. Looks very useful. Tons of information. She also showed me an iPhone app called GateGuru. It’s like Yelp for airports, and I’m anxious to see a blackberry version become available (supposedly in the works). A quick way to find where the Sky Clubs are would be very helpful.

I continue to have a love/hate relationship with online shopping. Thumbs down to Sears today for not making it obvious how to edit the contents of your cart. Not to mention that in a promotional email, they advertised 10% off on tools (today only). Only after spending way too much time investigating, I learned that the particular tool I was interested in was not covered by the promotion. That’s why I like to shop at Amazon. They have their act together when it comes to ease of use and customer service.

Hotel internet service is working like it should in every hotel at this week's Fairfield Inn. Turn your computer on, open your browser, access the web. No logging in, no agreeing to terms, just browse. And a fast connection to boot! Yep...this is how it's supposed to work!

Shout out to Panera Bread. Friendly service, free WiFi, decent coffee, and the best salad anywhere - Fuji Apple Chicken Salad.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snowing Too Early

Having originally been promised only a stray flurry late tonight, this afternoon it snowed like crazy, leaving an inch and a half of the white stuff covering the yard. It’s December 4th. Still flip flop season in my book!

I’m glad not to have to shop so much in the stores this season, but this cyber-shopping is beginning to eat up enormous amounts of time. Deal hunting can be an obsession.

Challenging thought from a sermon by Eric Ludy. While we typically wait for people’s needs to present themselves, Jesus came to SEEK and to save that which was lost. Waiting is nothing more than an excuse for not meeting people’s needs, yet still feeling OK about ourselves. As the hands and feet of Jesus, we are called to seek the needs, and then be willing to give what we have to meet them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Leafy Alarm Clock

A rare sleep-in (8:15am) and no workout this morning. Awakened to the sound of the city’s leaf-sucking truck. Huge leaf piles are now history.

We have one thirsty Christmas tree. My daughter thought the same thing, until she realized her tree stand was leaking. Apparently her carpet was the thirsty one! Fortunately, our tree really is sucking up the water and the hardwood floor is dry as a bone!

Just did an interview with a writer who is putting together a white paper for a firm I consult for. The paper is on account aggregation, which is a service I’ll be implementing sometime in 2011.

Baby, it’s cold outside! (And that’s not just a song title!)

We have our kitchen table back! For two weeks it has been piled with gifts bound for our western grandchildren. Box is packed. Pickup is scheduled. Table is returned to its intended use!

We enjoyed a nice Providence Baptist Church staff Christmas Party tonight. Paulette is very part time staff as orchestra librarian. Nice to share a meal and the season with friends.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Random Mid-Week Thoughts

Persistent dark clouds today, but the sun is trying hard to take over. I’m probably a little weird about this, but I prefer consistent weather on a given day. I don’t care if it’s sunny or rainy. Just don’t change it up on me.

Pet peeve: wobbly tables. I like our local Caribou Coffee, but there are too many wobbly tables. Coffee catastrophe today due to such a table. Blackberry Torch momentarily sitting in a pool of hot coffee.

Fickle weather, fickle stock market. Dow is up almost 250.

Even though I have a quiet home office, sometimes I wind up being more productive at the coffee shop with people coming and going all around me. It surprises me how many guys bring their Bible and do their quiet time over coffee. Not exactly quiet, but I had a good one myself there today.

The Christmas tree is finished. Gets decorated on December 1, gets torn down on January 1. In between, I’ll sit and stare at it for hours. Always have.