March 29th………“WHAT NORMAL DUTY, IN THE COURSE OF YOUR CUSTODIAL WORK AT BATTLE GROUND SCHOOL DISTRICT, TURNED OUT EMBARRASSINGLY BAD”?
“WHO’S OUT THERE”!!!!! Came the fiercely fomented feminine flashes of fire-breathing words from within.
During my tenure of thirty one years with the Battle Ground School District, I often had the pleasure of helping care for the classic facility known as Central Elementary School within the city limits of Battle Ground, Washington.
I’ve heard that dear old Central Elementary School had been constructed in the mid 1930’s by local craftsmen employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The 1930’s were the years during which our nation endured what was called “The Great Depression”. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 had crushed our economy and millions of Americans were without employment and means to even feed their families. The Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped initiate the WPA to put as many of those people back to work in helping building schools, bridges, roads, etc.. Central Elementary was one of those WPA building projects there in our quaint town of Battle Ground.
Between the years 1972 and 2003, I was one of many support staff who worked in this elegantly constructed school building. Being a lover of history, I looked forward to each time my floor maintenance partner and I would arrive with our equipment and settle in to Central to do their floors.
There was an aura of immense majesty in the sheer size of that edifice of education. There were ornate wood carvings, at one time, on the corner posts of the main entry near the school office. Those multi-paned, double glass doors gave their trumpeted announcement of your entry by the squeaking hinges that needed some lubricated tender-loving-care on a more regular basis.
Once inside, I’d climb those wide, interior steps to experience the extra-wide hallways covered with “linoleum” floor covering. By the color, wear and dimpling effect, I’d ascertain that these floors may have been original from the school’s early days.
To step into any classroom of the upper, original building was like stepping back into a time-capsuled episode of “The Waltons” television show, that had, itself, been set in the historical period of the 1930’s. Here, in the early 1970’s, there still hung massive slate chalkboards which dominated the walls as you stepped inside. The weight of your feet on those beautiful wooden floors created a creaking sound of mellow seasoning which had been lent over the many decades of school children transiting education’s portals.
That year, Spring Break came around and all students and staff were home for a whole week of enjoying playtime, tulips and daffodils……….or so I thought!!!
One of my daily duties, even as a seasonal floor cleaner, was to patrol the building and campus to see if all was well before starting my work day of scrubbing and waxing Central Elementary’s floors. As I keyed my way into the empty school building, only my footsteps could be heard echoing a reply off the walls of that mile-long hallway. Near the school office, there was a little Staff Restroom. It appeared that the door was ajar and a glowing light emitted from the threshold area. I assumed that some negligent person, the previous evening, had likely forgotten the light on when they went home. Again, assuming that the door was ajar, I placed my foot against the thin wooden panel of that 1930’s era door and began to push it open so I could turn off the light. The pressure of my foot against, what actually was a tightly latched door, made the wooden veneer panel let out with a crackle/crunch sound. Another push would’ve likely sent my foot clear through the door and into the restroom. “WHO’S OUT THERE!!?? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING”!!?? Ohhhh myyyy goodness!! There was someone inside that restroom……and it was a LADY.…..and it sounded like Mimi Burda (the school librarian)!!! I was mortified at what I had just done by unintentionally disrupting the sanctity of her moment in that restroom!!!
I was thoroughly and deeply embarrassed!!! I’m sure she was thinking the worst and I surely didn’t want to endure the wrath of Mrs. Burda upon her exiting her domain of privacy. So, being quiet, scared and fast as a rabbit, I flew to the end of that hallway and hid around the corner. Like a lioness from her lair, Mimi emerged from the restroom and out into that empty hallway. Being safely out of sight at my corner and with ears peeled, I heard her steps begin to leave the hall and I timidly peeked around the corner. Sure enough, it was Mimi Burda!!! Of all the woulda-shoulda-couldas out there, that fiasco was one super embarrassing moment for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!!! 😉