Once upon a time my family lived in the truly idyllic town of Greenhills Ohio, just above Cincinnati. In the middle and very heart of this town was a school. The name of the school's main structure was the Community Building. I went to school there from the 1953 to '59. By the sixth grade, before we moved away, I had been literally every place in the school, except one. It took me a full fifteen years to finally see that one last place. No, it wasn't the girls' locker room; I'd seen that in fifth grade!
In the last year of graduate school I made a pilgrimage to my boyhood town. I figured that it might be the last time I would ever have chance to revisit it. That assessment was sound, for I never have had such opportunity since. On the trip I even manage to connect with my old best friend from the neighborhood – but that's another story. This is about the Community Building and my run of the place; I went where I pleased, if not always when I pleased. Such as the time I was sent to the Principal's office, but at least I could claim to have been there!
Going to a single school for more than five years will naturally get one into a variety of rooms and even occasionally closets in the course of things. It also gets you well known by most everyone, classmates and staff. Now this being the Community Building, naturally the summer-days program was held there each year. The building was open and there were few supervisors around to tell me where I could or could not go. Nor were they able then to catch me if I should dare invade - say – the girl's room! I confess, each and every one! But not the locker rooms yet, either of them.
When I was in fifth grade I got a job drying trays for the cafeteria. I got a free lunch as pay, but my folks gave me the cash equivalent (30 cents) on top of my half-dollar allowance. While the job lasted only the first half of the fifth grade before someone else was given it, the friendship I made with Clarence lasted until my family moved East. Clarence was the kindly janitor that sort of took me on as a mascot, if you will. I was eager to take the class trash out to the dumpster because I then would get to see Clarence. I would visit with him after school, he being off later than school let out. Clarence would take me with him as he went everywhere, that's everywhere in the building.
Yes, that's how I added the ladies locker room to my list of "been there's". But that was an easy score actually and of course the place was long deserted of all females. But that site was another item checked off and a feather in my imaginary cap. No, the real challenge was the projectionist room at the top back of the combination gym and auditorium. There was never the call for Clarence to go there, at least not in all the times I was around. I never did see that space secured by a well locked single door; until...
Until that pilgrimage to Greenhills in my late twenties. It was as I remembered the town. The Community Building still stood at the foot of the green parade ground in front of it. The stores lined just one side of the main street. Down at the south end of town the paddle-wheel excursion boats still ran on the man-made lake. On the north end of the village stood my old house, from where I walked the ten minutes to the school. "Don't dawdle David!" my mother would exhort me as I exited the door. I always took the short cut through the woods that flanked a small stream which was easily forded where the trail crossed it. There was a wonderful oak tree to climb which stood on the path along the side of a field, but that was saved for after school, usually.