Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blow the dust off.

Hickman Street School has been demolished, lost to the dust of the mind. Having spent seven years of my life in this architectural wonder, the dust of my mind can be easily blown off to reveal the memory. Not much of this three story, U-shaped, red brick monster escaped my exploration!

My grandmother Jones (Mam maw), Dad, Uncles Eugene, Gale, aunts Thelma, Linda, my older brother Henry, and his wife Marcia all attended Hickman Street School. Of course Mam maw would have started around 1910. Dad and Thelma would have attended early 1930s. Uncles Gene and Gale, and aunt Linda in the 1940s. My brother, Marcia, and yours truly would have stared mid-1950s. That's more than half a century that my Jones family wandered around this behemoth. By the time my brother and I started, the buzz was that Hickman School was condemned and would soon be torn down. It lasted at least twenty more years!

As you faced Hickman Street School from Hickman Street, you faced four tall, white Corinthian columns that guarded the front entrance. This elevated to a rectangular pediment that extended above the third floor windows. These large, third story windows gave the principal a commanding view to the front, and to all those who past through two very large front doors. Not that I spent a lot of time in the principal's office.

The school must have been built in three phases. The left arm of the U-shaped structure was the oldest, with wide 8 - 12 inch floor boards and an ancient stairway that made all sorts of squeaks, rattles, and moans when walking up and down to the third floor. An arched double door faced to the inside court with a large stone arch frame. I suspected this section was built much before 1910.

The front entrance and classrooms must have been the second phase, where a large atrium with bulletin boards, glass cases, and a multiple-step stairway that had those fancy brass edges that were to keep you from slipping and falling.

The right side of the U-shaped building was the latest addition with narrow wooden floors, smaller windows, and a basement with tiled floors. The basement with the tiled floors housed the first and second grades. You then moved up to the second floor for the third grade. Forth and fifth grades were in the oldest part of the building. These huge rooms had tall windows, and a never ending set of black boards that I frequently had to write upon after school stating "I will not..." for what ever it was that day. The sixth grade was in the middle part, and finally, the seventh grade was located on the third floor. My sex education class was the third floor boy's restroom, where wooden stalls were carved with all sorts of education.

Hickman Street School is now gone forever. Mam maw had a copy of the newspaper article which pictured the "RAZING OF" old Hickman School dated February 1974. A new office building with drive-up facilities and parking area was to be constructed on the site. "Walls Come Down" the picture is titled, but it only takes a second to blow the dust off.

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