Today, on my day off, I decided to take a ride out to where I grew up. At least until I was about 11 or 12. It’s a village called Marshallton, and it lies between West Chester and Downingtown.
What is comforting about Marshallton is that it’s on a Historic Register so the entire village hasn’t changed at all In 50 years. I’m very fortunate to be able to take a stroll through my past and it physically looks the same. I felt like I was my eight-year-old self as I came around the bend to see my Red-bricked Elementary School at the top of the hill.
It’s a daycare now, but it really hasn’t changed at all. Back then, the school housed grades 1 through 5. Grades 4 and 5 were actually combined at that time. There was a large center hallway through the front doors. It was dark wood and it echoed when walked upon. There was a small stage and an upright piano for school plays to the right. Classrooms on either side of the hallway and there were cloak-rooms where we’d put our winter boots, scarves, and mittens (as well as an unruly student or two). The multi-paned windows were huge and welcomed sunlight and the darkness of spring thunderstorms. Perfect for daydreaming.
Our principal’s name was Mr. Rule (imagine that), and he had slicked back dark hair. He also wore thick dark-rimmed “Clark Kent” eyeglasses that gave him the look of a kind, but firm authoritarian. He knew every parent. I remember Mrs. Volpe, the round-shaped music teacher with the voice of an opera star who would dress up at Halloween by carving a big pumpkin and putting it on her head while wearing denim overalls.
The playground out back overlooked rolling hills and was centered with a big metal slidingboard, a few see saws (although I think we used to call them teeter-totters), and wood-seated swings. The monkey bars were popular as well. I walked to school back then. I think most of us did.
It seemed like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life living there.