Every fall, the anticipation of a new school year is tinted with both eagerness and trepidation.
Triggered by joy or apprehension, the event is inevitably exciting and it creates lifelong memories. First day of first grade: Who are all these kids and how did they get here? Why can’t I go home? My mother will forget me if I’m gone too long! First day of high school: Who are all these kids and how did they get here? Why can’t I go home?
Over the years, student impressions haven’t changed much, but the details are different. Les Tweed was a seventh grade transfer student to Pequot School District #41 in 1937. As an adult, he wrote his impressions of the school and its people for his booklet "Boyhood Memories of Pequot."
He came to the Pequot School from a small, rural township in another state and the new place was suitably intimidating. The intimate setting of the one-room country schoolhouse was replaced by the three-story yellow brick monstrosity in a new town. With stairways that climbed up or down into the gloom, unfamiliar floor plans and stern-faced teachers whose focus above and beyond education was crowd control, a boy had every reason to feel unsure.
“No running on the stairs!” “No running in the halls!” Who would even dare?
The school was set up with the high school grades on the upper floor and the elementary kids on the first, along with the administration offices. Each school room had a cloak hall attached to it for coats and jackets and boots and lunches. Bathrooms were on the basement level, as was the gym, the kitchen and the mechanicals.
The Pequot Indians, with their orange and black colors, played their basketball games in the basement gym, to small crowds. Concrete is a hard substance and the gym was made entirely of it. The floor was free of tile. The ceiling was low. Out-of-bounds was no more than 2 feet wide and stopped abruptly at the cement wall. There was no room for heroic plays or diving saves.
The game of basketball has changed a lot from those days and safety issues are addressed in more sophisticated ways these days. The public demands comfort for themselves and their kids. Change extends to school design and rules of the game and demographics and money.
Back in the day, they did the best they could with what they had.
Please consider your stories of times past important, interesting and worth passing along.
Karen Bye is president of the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society.