Farewell to the old Delmae
By: Brenda Harrison
It was sad for me to watch the demolition of Delmae Heights Elementary School. Good old Delmae was my alma mater.
I started first grade there in 1957 – the year it opened. Back then we didn’t have public kindergarten. The school offered grades 1 through 6 and there were only two classes for each grade.
As I watched workers tearing down the old school last week, I thought back 60 years ago when I watched other workers building the school. Growing up right across the street, it was easy to view the school construction on a daily basis. I must have been five when they started because I was six years old when the school opened.
I remember my mom telling me that I would be going to the new school in the fall. I loved books, so I was anxious to learn to read. Mom said they would teach me to read.
Finally, the school was completed and it was time to go to school. I was so excited, knowing I would learn how to read.
Well, I was a sad and disappointed child when I returned home after that first day. I didn’t learn to read. In fact, I don’t think I learned anything that first day.
Mom had neglected to tell me that learning to read was a process and it would take a while before I could read a book.
Eventually, we tackled the Dick and Jane readers and began to learn to recognize words and sentences, such as See Dick run, and See Jane jump. I was learning to read.
After school and on weekends, the neighborhood kids and I gathered at the school playground where we slid down the metal sliding board, pushed or rode the merry-go-round and enjoyed trying to reach the sky on the swings. I don’t suppose we’d be allowed to do that today, but the school yard was not fenced in and there were no signs asking us to stay away.
As a child I thought Delmae was a huge school, but as I grew up it shrunk. The original cafeteria/auditorium was half the size of the one torn down. Also, when the school was built, there were just two wings of classrooms. It was enlarged over the years, and grew two or three times larger than it was 60 years ago, and that’s not counting mobile units.
I have lots of memories of my teachers, classmates, and activities. I remember dancing around the stage in a second-grade production of the “Shoemaker and His Elves.” I also remember buying pencils and paper from the small school store located in a room beside the school stage. I recall bringing nickels and dimes to school to buy ice cream after lunch. And, I remember the sixth grade dance in the cafeteria. All the girls stood on one side while the boys stood on the opposite side of the room. The funny thing is no one was brave enough to step on the dance floor until about 15 minutes before the dance ended.
Farewell, my beloved school!