So the other day my friend Sam shot me an e-mail containing this little piece of history:
Jeebus help me, that's Mrs. Wheeler's 1961-1962 1st Grade class--MY class--arrayed on the steps of Jackson-Wilson Elementary School in Waynesboro, VA. Sam is in the front row, third from your left, and I'm... well, see if you can spot me.
A couple of things:
--notice the distinct lack of... diversity... in the student population; Waynesboro schools weren't integrated/desegregated until the fall of 1965.
--Jackson-Wilson was originally Wilson High School and, at least as far as I could tell, had had no significant maintenance since it opened in 1922. During fire drills students on the upper floors exited via rickety fire escapes which under load tended to sway and pull away a bit from the brick walls. Didn't matter; the place was a firetrap anyway, what with all the tinder-dry wooden floors and walls, the latter being slathered with asbestos-laden-but-still-highly-flammable plaster guaranteed to save our parents the expense of having our little bodies buried after we asphyxiated from smoke inhalation. Oh, and our Civil Defense drills (the infamous "duck and cover" technique detailed in this masterfully understated 1951 film) were a hoot! The teachers would march us out of our classrooms and into the hallway where we assumed the ("kiss your ass goodbye!") position and waited patiently for the coming Nuclear Holocaust. Yeah, we were all going to die horrible radioactive deaths, but at least we were arrayed alphabetically!
Here's the original school complex--1st & 2nd grades in the building to your left (site of my class photo), 3rd and 4th grades (plus an auditorium) in the middle (note the aforementioned fire escape), a rarely-used gymnasium and the School Board offices to your right. To your farthest left (and all but invisible) is the "Cafeteria Building" which housed the (duh!) cafeteria, 5th and 6th grade classrooms, and the Main Office, wherein dwelled the Supreme and Exalted Ruler of our little domain, Mr. Wright, the Principal.*
And here it is as it stands today. They tore down the two middle buildings around 1968, soon after they moved the student population to one of the newer elementary schools (Berkeley Glenn, should you be that interested).
Another view. The Waynesboro School Board still occupies "The Hill," the metonymous term used by local teachers to precede the phrase "did something really stupid today." My mother, a 9th grade English teacher for 13 years (and head of the department for many of those years--her tales of Machiavellian manipulations within the school system would stand your hair on end), used that phrase a LOT.
The Cafeteria Building, still standing, still used, only now it's occupied by the (Shenandoah) Valley Program for Aging Services.
So did you figure out which one was me? No? Well, I'm the guy dead center, face partially obscured, standing between the two hot chicks (a feat rarely repeated since):
*Who was a nice enough--looked like someone's grandfather and probably was--but OMIGAWD! He had a spanking machine in his office! A SPANKING MACHINE! And he was allowed to use it whenever he wanted for whatever offense he so chose! I know this is true because the 6th graders told us!
Edit: For those of you too young to catch the Rocky & Bullwinkle reference in the title, here's some information on the Wayback Machine.