My childhood school, the school where I spent the most important years of my life, is closing down. 90 year old Monitor Elementary is closing at the end of the school year, and tomorrow is the big celebration/reunion/goodbye or whatever you want to call it. Silver Falls School District is shutting it down due to declining enrollment. No big farm families anymore. I plan to be there to see old friends; friends I haven’t seen or heard from in 28 years! The town of Monitor is about 6 miles east of Woodburn and 4 miles NE of Mt. Angel. It’s just about 2 miles south of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm as well…most of you are probably far more familiar with that place.
I spent 2nd through 7th grade there, having to quickly move away in 8th grade when my Dad took a new job up in Chehalis. I mentioned to someone a few months ago that when I have dreams about childhood it’s always down there, not of 8th grade and beyond. I remember bouncing around the fields and woods of Marion County, sure that I wanted to grow up and be a farmer. We were surrounded by pig and dairy farms and many of the kids had parents involved in some sort of farming. This is where I gained my love of “long” Pacific Northwest Summers (at least it seemed that way at the time), gusty south wind storms, and days of soaking rain that made the creek behind the house flood.
Maybe a third of the school was populated by Old Believers. Those kids took a separate week off for Christmas and often didn’t start school for 2-3 weeks beyond Labor Day due to farm duties. I wish I could have learned more from them, but it was two totally separate cultures put together in one school and I don’t think parents of our generation had much interest in mingling.
I want to sniff the funny spell in that old wooden gym one last time, check out the “track” (a worn circle in the field), and see if the same old swings and monkeybars are still there. Plus, my sixth grade teacher, Warren Glaede, is STILL there! Can you imagine working the same job for 33 years? I wonder if he still gives out a bag of candy on each kid’s birthday…I thought that was SO cool.
Today I pulled out the 7th grade class picture to see how many names I can remember. Even at 41 years old I was able to recall most of the names. Isn’t it strange that we can forget short term names of people we’ve known the last five years, but something from that far back is “burned” into our brain?
The weather events are still “burned in” in there as well: My first (and only) experience with freezing rain until I moved to the Portland area more than 10 years later. The big November 13th, 1981 windstorm. Flooding at Christmas 1980. Sitting there in rain while seeing pictures of 5 feet snow/ice in the Gorge in January 1980; made me want to live there when I grew up!
Good memories, but life moves on! Some things never change though….we still have rainy Junes at times 30 years later…
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen