Wow! I’m completely blown away by the response to the My Hometown Series #1 post yesterday. I guess I’m not the only nostalgic person around. In that same spirit, this second post was a piece I wrote for publication in the Grand Saline Sun in July of 2013 on the occasion of our school district opening a brand new elementary school. The old building had been the elementary school for over 60 years and simply was no longer a facility which could function as designed. There was (and still is, I guess) a lot of discussion regarding the fate of the building. To date, it is still standing empty with no plan for its future that I’m aware of. If you would like to contribute to the My Hometown Series (it’s not just about MY hometown), please see the contact info at the bottom of this post.

My Hometown Series #2 – The Old Red Brick Building

The building has stood through wind and rain; through heat and cold; through good times and bad. For more than sixty years, the old red brick building in the middle of Oleander Street has stood as a symbol of part of what we hold dear about our little hometown. For more than sixty years it has stood as generations of students sat in classrooms and listened to the thumps and creaks its old wooden floors made as their teachers returned with worksheets or textbooks.

“Shhhhh! She’s coming. Be quiet!!” The lookout would alert.

But, it was never fast enough. Before the warning was heard by most of the chattering students, the doorknob turned, the latch clicked, the big wooden door opened and Mrs. Starkey, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Stacey, Fisher, McNatt, Grant or any of the others who gave more of themselves than they were ever asked to give, was standing in front of the class openly aghast by their disobedience but secretly laughing at their attempts to fool her. None of them were ever fooled. None of us were quick or clever enough to make that happen!

It’s a building full of memories – too many to number. Memories of students seated in the wooden seats in the auditorium before school watching cartoons on the old console television in front of the stage. Memories of swinging on the monkey bars or sliding down the slide at recess. Memories of kickball on the old baseball field behind the gym. Each of the memories unique to each of us, and yet a common bond between hundreds of people – young and old – who share them.

It’s a building full of people – some of them still with us and some long gone. Which of us doesn’t remember Mrs. Bogan seated in her wheelchair in the office diligently working to ensure that the day-to-day business of the school was successful? Or, Coach Yates with his four and eight count calisthenics, bear crawl, and “pickin’ peas?” Which of us doesn’t remember ‘Miss Dot’ Jennings collecting lunch money? Or, Mrs. Fisher

The old Grand Saline Elementary School building.
The old Grand Saline Elementary School building.

leading the class singing K-K-K-Katie?! They were and are one of a kind and the roll call is a Who’s Who of dedicated women and men who cared for their students as if they were their own children.

They’re all there – the people, the sites, the sounds – they are all part of what makes us nostalgic when we drive by the old red brick building in the middle of the street. To be sure, things have changed over the last six decades. New buildings have been built and a few of them have already been torn down. Countless coats of paint have been applied to walls and doors and trim. Playground equipment has come and gone. But, that building still stands as a keeper of memories; a keeper of hopes and dreams; a keeper of history.

The halls are empty now. The last students to ever walk them left weeks ago, but the floors still thump and creak as teachers and workers walk them while working toward the big move. Each thump is a footstep from history. Each creak is a memory of days gone by. No matter what happens in the next months and years, those memories will remain. It will be 2023 before that last student to walk those halls walks the commencement stage and that will be almost 80 years since the first student entered the new red brick building in the middle of the street.

August will bring a fresh start in a brand new building. The floors won’t thump or creak. The latches on the doors won’t click as loudly. There will be new faces and new names; new toys to play on; new desks and chairs to sit in, and new memories to be made. But, for those of us who are lucky enough to have spent part of our childhood walking those halls, playing on that playground, and learning from those teachers, the memories will remain part of us. Whatever the future holds, for us Grand Saline Elementary School will always be that old red brick building.


If you would like to be a guest blogger for the My Hometown Series, or any other topic, please email me — jason@jasonawalker.com

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12 thoughts on “My Hometown Series #2 – The Old Red Brick Building

      1. Erica, thanks for reading and commenting! Yes I hope they find some other use for the building, too.

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  1. Beautifully written. That’s my dad’s office to the right.. In my mind I can still find the sugar cubes he kept in the cabinet in the corner. So hope we have notice if / when it is demolished. I really want a piece of it. Laura Anderson Chalberg

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    1. Laura, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I was so fond of your dad and mom both. By the time we got to GS he was the principal at the MS. I’ll never forget the time that I got called to his office because my locker was messy. I expected the worst! But, we talked for a few minutes about how important it was to keep it clean and about an hour about SCUBA diving! He was a wonderful man.

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  2. I am a graduate of the class of 1980 and also had the privilege of writing for the Grand Saline Sun from 1980 to 1984. I did not realize the elementary school was empty until I was there with my son for spring break in March. I related to all your memories, and to the teachers you named. Thank you! Keep the posts coming. Maybe I will dig out my feature on Dr. Wiley Garland, my great grandfather, that Woody and Fern Woodall were so kind to publish. (Memory of watching cartoons in the auditorium was spot on!. I also remember all the Salt Festival pageants that were held there too!) Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Susan! If you find that article and would like for me to post it here, please let me know. I didn’t know your great grandfather, but certainly knew your parents and your sister and brother–you graduated before we arrived in town. GS was a good place to grow up.

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  3. Thank you for writing this series. I am a graduate of the class of 1979 and this brought back so many memories. Besides all the teachers you mentioned I remember so many more. Mrs. Gautier, Mrs. Joslin, Mrs. Adrian, Mrs. Land, Mrs. Anders, Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. Matthews, Mr. Whatley and Coach King and his paddle. I also remember the days when that building didn’t have air conditioning and we would nearly burn up when school started back.

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    1. Lynn, thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I remember all of those teachers, as well, but most of them because they were friends with my great great aunt, Hallye Watson. Mrs. Adrian and Mrs. Gautier, were especially good friends of her’s and were frequent guests in her home. Of course, Mrs. Ellis was still teaching by the time I made it to 7th grade and she was wonderful. Mrs. Tommie Matthews substituted for us many times and I remember her quite fondly. Coach King had moved on to Wills Point before I could have him for class, but I was good friends with his son, Thomas, and I still consider he and Mrs. King dear friends even today. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. If you have any stories you’d like to share, please let me know and I’ll try to get them in!

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