Monday, July 18, 2011

Building an Auditorium

This is a good example of the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Look closely, because the thousand words might be different from what you'd expect.

This is a class from the mid 1940's, probably around second or third graders, by the looks of the children. They are posing in front of the school. Scroll up to the current picture of the school and look to the middle entrance. That's where these children were. Where now there is a bricked wall leading up the steps, in the forties, it was metal. (More fun to swing on, I'm sure.)

Do you see what appears to be white barrels that the boys in the back are standing on? Guess again. Scroll up and look at the current picture. Those white "barrels" are there, too. They are the columns for the auditorium that laid in the early years on the ground, waiting "like giant bones scattered," according to one man I interviewed.

I heard them talk about those columns, about how they played on them, jumped over them, walked them like modern children walk the balance beam. I read the newspaper accounts about the bond issue that passed in 1947 that allotted money for building the auditorium, and I wondered. Why were the columns there for so long if it wasn't even built until the late forties?

Then I read the school board minutes. When the school was built in '41 and '42, the auditorium was a part of the original plan. Phase one was the first four rooms at the furtherest end in the picture above. The four classes moved into them in the fall of 1942 while construction continued on the second half. It was to be four more classrooms, a cafeteria, library, office, and auditorium. But, there, in the school board minutes, I found one simple comment.

Due to cost, (as usually happens in a building project) expenses ran over. The school board instructed the builders to forget the auditorium. Instead they were to remove the wall between two of the classrooms and turn that larger room into an auditorium. The school then would have six classrooms, not eight.

But they had columns, already purchased in anticipation of a real auditorium. What to do with them?

Nothing. Let the children crawl on them, play on them, pose for pictures on them. Leave them laying like giant bones as a reminder of what was taken from them or as a promise of what will someday be built.

That someday finally came and the results were beyond what the community expected. Still is. Look at it now at this auditorium link. So worth the wait.

Catch of the day,


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