Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Trip Down Memory Lane, Without (& With) Pictures

A case I am working on right now required me to make two stops on memory lane yesterday.

The first was at R.C. Waters Elementary School, where I attended from Kindergarten to fifth grade. Lawyers, you have not lived until you have applied what you learned in law school in the building where you learned how to add and subtract. As I sat in the guidance counselor's office (which used to be the assistant principal's office), I remembered sitting in there in fifth grade because I had been accused of cheating. (And just in case anyone is wondering, NO, I wasn't...)

There were two changes in the school, and neither were for the better: One was that, when I pulled in, they have added a bus loop to the front of the school. I remember getting off the bus and walking up a sidewalk that was not long, but was still a bit of a hike. There wouldn't have been any safety reason to add that loop (other than to keep the kiddly-didlets from having to deal with the cold for an extra fifteen seconds.) (God, do I sound old. "When I was your age, I had to walk fifteen seconds in the snow to get to the school. We didn't have no freakin' bus loops.")

The other was the far more disturbing. When I was there...OK, if I'm going to sound this old, "In my day," would walk in the front doors of the school (what used to be called the lobby), on the right was a picture of Ralph C. Waters, the man for whom R.C. Waters was named. He used to be superintendent of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District, and was something of a local legend.

Now, this was not a picture that exactly drew your attention. It was one of those gray-background, 1960s affairs. R.C. looked like a typical 1960s principal: He had reddish-brownish hair, very light complexion, and little horn-rimmed glasses. I always pictured him having a hump in his back as well, but that was probably just my exaggeration.

And that was the sum total of my connection with the man for whom a building in which Ispent my first six years of education was named, but that was enough. I knew what the R stood for, and I knew what Ralph looked like. (Actually, his wife was still alive in 1992. My dad purchasd a 1963 Monte Carlo from her and parked it in our driveway. My mother told him that she hoped he liked it, beause if it stayed there very long, he'd be sleeping in it.)

Anyway, when I looked yesterday, the picture of R.C. Waters was gone.

I find this disturbing on a number of levels. First of all, it was the only way I knew who the building was named after. I don't know particularly what Ralph Waters did, but I knew he did something, and that was enough.

This is how I figure the students of R.C. Waters today are trying to determine the name of their school:

Timmy: Gee, I wonder how R.C. Waters got its name?
Tommy: My grandpa said it was named after Ralph C. Waters, who used to be superintendent of the school district.
Jonny: No, you idiot! [Slaps Tommy upside the head.] Royal Crown Cola bought the naming rights, and Muddy Waters played the opening, so it was named R.C. Waters.

But here's the other disturbing thing: Someone took that picture down. (There are new certificates or something hanging up there. I didn't even bother to see what they were.)

I don't know who. I don't know when. I don't know why. But at some point, some decisionmaker said, "You know what? Why's this old guy's picture hanging here? He only provides kids with a link to the past and lets them know why we aren't named the 'Oak Harbor Elementary School,' so, it's serving no useful purpose. Let's take it down and throw it in a storeroom."

Alas, poor Ralph, I knew his picture well. He deserved better.

(If anyone from RC Waters or BCS is reading this, I beg you, let's restore Ralph to his position of former glory.)

Later, I went to the Oak Harbor Junior High -- oops, now it's the Oak Harbor Middle School. (For some reason, educational types that go to the trouble of renaming their junior highs as middle schools get very perturbed when the rest of the world doesn't follow suit.) Now, things there were pretty much exactly as I remembered them. They've, however, had a picture added, of Mr. Daniel Kalo, who was principal when I was there.

Mr. Kalo was a little larger than life. He was a former (not ex) Marine, who served in Vietnam. When he shook your hand, you remembered it for a week. Screwing around had no place in his school. If kids didn't like him (and I did like him), they at least respected him.

So, Mr. Kalo's picture is a little larger than life, too. (This is as opposed to the picture of poor R.C. Waters, who, even before consigned to the dust heap of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District, had a very small, square picture.) It dominates the wall, just like he dominated the junior hi -- dolgamit, middle school.

The sound of students changing classes sounds almost exactly the same, but they aren't dismissed with a bell now, they have "tones." (Which seemed a bit of a shame to me, really.)

But, for those of you OHJH -- er, -MS, -- alumni, the most important thing: Mrs. Weber is still there.

Mrs. Weber was the secretary when I was there. She still is. When I was there, it would have been an overstatement to say she ran the place, but she certainly knew what to do to make things happen. And she was also one of the zanier people I've ever met. The person you need as a junior high -- or, middle school -- secretary.

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