I stand at the edge of the path and stare into the clearing.
The schoolhouse, long ago abandoned, somehow manages to retain its warmth in
the midst of the cold, forgotten landscape. Nowadays, schools resemble prisons;
sprawling gray fortresses children are forced to attend. That was not always
so, and the loss saddens me.
This red schoolhouse, like most of the others of its day,
resembles a church. Though even the churches have now grown large and
foreboding, haven’t they? We’re always striving for bigger and better.
Somewhere along the way, we traded our quaint lifestyle for 50-story high-rises
and shopping malls the size of small cities.
I look at the barren tree and recall the days of playing
Ring-Around-the-Rosie. I can almost hear the shrill giggles of my childhood
friends, as we clasped hands in a circle. Mrs. Schneider, our teacher, would
call us in after our fifteen minute recess and all our noses would be bright
red from the cold. We’d quickly settle into our seats, always happy to be
there. We all loved our school and our teacher. Learning was an adventure we
each eagerly sought.
I’ve been gone from this place for many years. I grew up and
married my childhood crush. Elliot had sat behind me from kindergarten through
fifth grade, right here in this very schoolhouse. He’d pull on my
strawberry-blonde banana curls and feign innocence when I turned to tell him to
As young adults, Elliot’s job took us far away. We settled
into our new life and raised four beautiful children. Our children grew into
wonderful adults, and soon we were blessed with fifteen healthy grandchildren.
When I look back, it all seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. Hard to
believe I now have seven great-grandchildren. And I’m a widow. I lost Elliot
three years ago. When I close my eyes, I can still feel him pulling on my
I have not returned to this place in all the decades of my
adulthood. The memories, though, remain vivid. This was a time of joyous
innocence, and I worry that this new generation of children will never know
such youthful exuberance.
My granddaughter, Barbara, touches my arm. “Are you ready to
go, Grandma?” she asks. “It’s getting awfully cold.”
I look at that little red schoolhouse and try to imagine the
scene through her eyes. She might describe it as old-fashioned, possibly even
bleak. Everything in her world has always been so much larger. She grew up in a
city of skyscrapers, and her son’s school is a huge block of concrete with
metal detectors and security guards.
This little red schoolhouse is where I learned about the
world, and where I fell in love. I don’t know how to tell her all I feel when I
Barbara senses my melancholy. She wraps her arms around my
shoulder and says, “Sad that they’re tearing it down.”
Tears sting my eyes. “Yes. Before long this will be yet
She slips a camera from her pocket and snaps a photo. That’s
what all our lives come down to in the end; just a snapshot in time.