Remembering Old Roswell High


by Betty Boellner - Jones


Worn brown floors, boards that creaked and groaned, steps that sagged, the lofty Gothic turrets that beckoned to scholastic heights...

You remember the sunshine, clear blue skies, the laughter, the first day nervousness, teachers that stood outside their classroom doors, welcoming the hordes to academic confusion. The bell rang, groups moved toward the doors to climb those sagging steps and wander the halls, carrying their hopes and their books. It was a time for learning, for wondering. You hoped you would get to sit by a friend, and if not, by someone smarter than you. And hour of classroom time wasn't long, you could always draw hearts and scroll initials inside, yours and someone you hoped would ask you for a date to the dance. Boys were always distracted by football, baseball, basketball, track or boxing. Didn't they know the girls were dressed in their absolute prettiest,-- acting so flirty, so witty,--

Oh, there he is! He's looking over here, if I can just get his attention. He's so neat looking in that red letter sweater, I could just die! What? How do I know what the formula is for an isosceles triangle? "Yes sir, I did my homework, Mr. Maxwell." I just can't draw a straight triangle. Now I'll never get a date to the Sophomore Barn Dance.

Down in the basement where my locker was, at noontime, the delicious aroma of real down home cooking,-- Mrs. Davis was frying chicken. Oh, the hunger pangs! Dodge all those wild cowboys on your way out, ignore the salty looks from their girlfriends, make for the stairs and freedom. "Wait, Georgine,-- my necklace is caught in the locker door!"

Latin class was in the ‘turret room.' You could look out those rounded turret windows and pretend you were a fairy princess escaping the wicked one, waiting for your Prince to rescue you, and what a climb he would have to reach you!

Alas, the delightful Roman herself, Miss Merkle, who would jar you from your musings, and then who in the world could concentrate on Caesar's Gallic Wars after "HE" called you last night, but only to ask you what the geometry homework was,-- not for a date. "Conjugate the verb,-- to have," she calls on you. "Yes, I did my homework. I can cite a phrase, ‘Te Amo." Why does everyone laugh? Why is this fiery little Roman suddenly throwing your book out of the window?
Maybe your Prince waiting below caught it. In this stringent Boy-less class which surely could only spawn Rhodes scholars, the best Latinesque visions were of Robert Tayor challenging Nero in the movie, "Quo Vadis." Or wondering who had a date with who this coming Friday night.

A sketchy description of Physical Education class, those who took showers and those who didn't, and those who said they did and hid your clothes so the boys walking by outside could peek into the low windows and see you hunting for your clothes. You took a shower and ruined your prettiness and were late to the next class. Those modest red-bloomer shorts with the elastic legs left crimps for hours. But the course was required, two miserable years of it.

You could endure anything after the noontime dances. You danced with anyone who came back early from lunch. Swirling skirts, bobby socks with thick cuffs, guys in jeans and plaid shirts and crew cuts. How you dreaded hearing the bell! We were having so much fun.

It was time to learn. And learn we did, in spite of ourselves. I learned more of history than ever occurred in Coach Witt's class. I hungered through Mrs. Dennis' interpretation's of "Macbeth,"and thought the language was funny. And who cared about diagraming sentences? We all knew what a proper noun was. It began with a capital letter.

Those glorious days set us on our feet to conquer what we thought then was an infant world, just waiting out there for us to embrace. And if we lingered by the north door, shaded by the late afternoon sunshine, our hand touching over the old brass door-pull, it was because we hated to leave.

Time took us on our way,-- but then, maybe we never really left those long echoing halls.