We found this tire swing behind an old, dilapidated, abandoned school for sale on the road to someplace else. The Sycamore tree it was hanging from must have been at least a hundred years old, and it stood guard just past the broken up pavement, waiting for the children to return and swing again ….
Looking in dusty, dirty windows, around spider webs and under dirt dobber nests, we found scarred hardwood floors, half doors with rusty hinges and ceilings so high we had to adjust our perch to see the top. Peeking around a door frame, I could see a curved arch of an entrance, and the corner of a stage. I imagine this is the auditorium, it’s last performance a distant memory of faded voices, quiet laughter and accolades for students long grown and gone.
As we stepped around weeds and through briars, we walked along the cracks and broken pieces of the curved driveway, around to the back of the school. There stood that magnificent tree, a sentinel that has stood the test of time, solid in it’s strength and quiet in it’s dignity. The swing hangs from it’s lowest limb, silent and still as it waits for children’s laughter and the breezes to blow through messy hair as they giggle gleefully with every reckless roar back and forth…..back and forth.
The Queen Anne’s Lace has choked out any other flowers in the field beside the school, a long ago forgotten playground, perhaps. Where kickball, tag, Red Rover Red Rover, (send Susie right over), and double hops on a jump rope held at each end by little girls waiting for their turn, all dressed in the same dusty saddle oxfords and snaggle toothed grins played out each day after lunch in a cafeteria with wooden benches, milk in bottles and sandwiches made from home.
As we turned to leave, I caught a glimpse of a broken window, ratty curtains swaying in the breeze. I imagined the office of a principal, a nurse, or a teacher’s gathering place, a small oasis away from the daily trials of students and life. In my mind’s eye, I could see a desk, papers stacked neatly on the corner with a small paper weight in the middle, holding down the corners as the wind played with the dust and swirled along the edges of the room. Sunlight peeked in through the sheer fabric, lighting the darkest spaces and warming the cool brick building, tossing shadows on walls and leaving a smile as it dashed from corner to corner.
Somewhere, this place is a memory to a little girl or boy, who spent years here learning fractions, the love of words in a hard bound book and how to write in cursive. They’ve long since grown up and moved on but the smell of hardwood floors and the feel of sunshine beating on their heads while they played in a flower strewn field will remain in their hearts forever…..
Note: The Historic Odgen School is for sale. Anyone interested in buying a piece of history should call Joey and Sonya Reid at Appalachian Land Company (828-361-3439).