Thursday, July 28, 2016

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Look at Me, I Could Be Centerfield

This week has been a disaster for me me with regard to my columns. My book review was a day late and I wasn’t sure what I was going to write for today’s “Walkin’ Shoes.” I had some plans in mind for both, but I couldn’t really make it grab my attention. I know that if it’s not grabbing my attention, it would be absolute torture for some of you to read. Then I walked my kids over to the Fosters’ house so they could board the bus for VBS. My column for today came to me in a sudden burst of clarity.

As you all well know, I am a proud alumnus of Washington Hunt Elementary School. I’ve previously written about my time at the school. Well, you’re about to get a little bit more. My walk to the Foster residence took me past the old school. It’s been awhile and there have been a lot of changes since the last time I walked by.

The biggest change, and the one I’ll be focusing on today is the old baseball/kickball diamond. It’s gone -- completely paved over with stone. Obviously, for the new business to be successful, they needed an appropriate parking lot. That made the old kickball field expendable. I was kind of sad, and a little bit angry. I wasn’t angry at the new owners. I applaud them for taking on that big building and keeping it functional.

I am angry because we let our school crumble into obsolescence. Don't get me wrong. It's not just Washington Hunt. It's not even just schools. It's everything we build. We, collectively as a nation, tend to build great things, but then never upkeep them. We never build in legacy costs, or if we do we spend on other needs elsewhere. So, as a result, we're left with hulking, crumbling bastions to former greatness. Thankfully, at least in the case of Washington Hunt, a local business has taken on the task of maintaining our old school.

Enough of the rant part of this article. I came here to talk about the kickball field. Raise your hand if you remember kids climbing the backstop. Even better, jump up and down if you were one of those kids who climbed the backstop. Never fear, Mrs. Chilcott probably came over to have you get down.

I was a terrible kickball player when I was a kid. I was pretty small. The biggest of the kids could put some real spin on that ball when they pitched, and I could never seem to kick it very well. I could field with the best of them, but kicking was not my forte. Thankfully, I have gotten much better. I dusted off all the old skills for a celebrity match last summer.

It was a big deal if someone kicked it over the fence into the hospital parking lot along the left field wall. It was a bragging point whenever it happened. The lunch monitors would always want one of is to walk around the long way to retrieve the ball. Of course, we would always just jump the fence, much to the chagrin of the monitor.

I suppose we played baseball or softball there, too, during gym classes in the fall and spring. Those times just don't stand out as much as the kickball games. Those times definitely came flooding back as I walked by the school and saw the field stoned over. I still miss those days, and seeing that it was gone made me miss them even more.

Everything changes. There's not much we can do to stop it. Time marches on. (Add your own cliche here:____________) However, we can still relive it with friends over a beer or two, or by reading these articles. I am excited to see what becomes of Washington Hunt. It is a grand old building.

Craig Bacon is still sending secret messages in his posts. If you can figure it out, let him know on our Facebook page.