Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Frank B. Cooper School Refrain by Susanne Swanson

Delighted to welcome Susanne Swanson to the Posts from Your Archives series, and her first post today shares her return to her kindergarten which was celebrating its 100th anniversary..(I don’t think Susanne was one of the first pupils!)

Frank B. Cooper School Refrain by Susanne Swanson

I’m not sure what I was looking for by returning. It was years and years ago when I attended Frank B. Cooper school, kindergarten through 6th grade. But it was the school’s 100th anniversary and the building, now the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, where artists live and work, would be open for celebration and tours.

But why go? Was I hoping to run into childhood friends? (Maybe.) Did I hope to trigger memories that were no doubt bound up in those indescribable hallway sounds and smells? Warm sandwiches left in lockers, new shoes shuffling on heavy floors, recess bells? Whatever the reason, I made the trek to the old school on Delridge Way, and was met by that overpass, still standing, though empty and lonely of children.

I entered through the front and was welcomed by young greeters. Had I ever been there before they asked? (Um, yes, maybe 50 years ago?) There were other alumni visiting they said, and encouraged me to look around. I could take a tour of the artists quarters too if I liked. I did a bit of both.

Almost reverently I walked through the building, tracing steps from long ago till I found the stairs I’d climbed many times before.

It was 4th grade and I was with my best friend Joyce, the one with perfectly blond hair (she was Scandinavian and her hair was almost white, and sleek and straight.) We were debating who was the best, Paul Revere and the Raiders (her choice) or the Monkees (mine), when Miss Warner interrupted and told us to stop acting like monkeys. How we laughed at her words though I felt my group had been impugned.

There was the auditorium/lunch room where we bought hot lunches for 35 cents from smiling ladies wearing soft shoes, dressed in white aprons and hair nets. I loved the hamburgers where much of the meat was stretched with oatmeal; and who can forget the ice cream sandwiches? Weren’t they 12 cents?

We ate in the same room that served us up assemblies and Disney movies after school and where I stood on the stage and spoke a part in the Christmas program.

I visited the gym and wondered how we’d played ‘red rover’ and ‘soak out’ in such a small space. (Did they still play the game where we got people ‘out’ with the sting of a red rubber ball? I doubt it.) Somehow we even had room to square dance to ‘pistol packin’ mama’, a song I’m pretty sure is no longer welcomed on school grounds.

And who could forget the naughty kids being sent to the Principal’s Office where they sometimes got the paddle for their foolery?

Not me. I was an ‘office girl’ behind the desk, answering the phones with ‘Cooper School student speaking.’ (I guess I was destined to be in an office.)

I wandered the hallways for an hour or so, taking pictures and looking for memories and stories to tell, perhaps hoping for an epiphany. Or perhaps waiting to meet someone from the old days. Neither happened. Or did it? Maybe the old friends were there under gray hair and lined smiling faces? And maybe the stories were found but are still waiting to be told? We shall see.

©Susanne Swanson

About Susanne

Hello! This is Susanne. After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up, I decided to explore the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

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In my blog you will meet my two favorite felines, Tiger and Benji, and see pictures and stories from my travels, especially in the Pacific Northwest where I live. Add in my garden, some rain (lots of rain it turns out), a few sunsets and reflections on life, and you have an idea of where we are headed. I hope you come along for the ride.

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It would be great if you could share your experiences of attending school reunions and Susanne would enjoy your feedback.. thanks Sally.


30 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Frank B. Cooper School Refrain by Susanne Swanson

  1. How nice to be able to go back and visit the building. The school district here is so busy tearing up our old ones to build new – ones that made to feature technology and air-conditioning/ better heating/more secure/more efficient – more ankle to survive damaging hurricanes. But they seem to have overlooked the importance of a solid old environment that speaks tales of former students and traditions of the past. Somehow those soak into an old building to make it warm and inviting – a comfortable place for kids and learning

    Liked by 2 people

    • My old primary school was a nissan hut with a tin roof that got torn down, and replaced with an army recruitment centre….. the playground is now a tennis court. But when I walk passed when I am home it still brings back memories… but I agree modern schools might have air-conditioning but are missing the tradition seeped into the patina on the walls..

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for sharing. There’s something so special about those early school days. It’s amazing how much we remember from them. I’m happy they kept this beautiful old brick building and repurposed it for the Arts, and I was able to walk through the halls again.


  2. Looking after the desk reminded me of my children’s junior school – one day I was cycling home and a fire engine passed me on the way to the school! It turned out that the two goodie goodie girls in my daughter’s class, looking after the headmaster’ s office at lunchtime, had decided to dial 999 for a joke!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice to see Susanne featured, Sally.
    I went to two school reunions, and met almost everyone from my old class. Most people were talking about being in successful jobs, or how much their house was worth. But it was the 80s! 🙂
    The best bit was seeing how little the teachers had changed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Pete! Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂 It’s great that you were able to attend one of your reunions. I’ve actually never been to any of my High School class reunions, for one reason or another. I’d gladly attend a grade school reunion or junior high for that matter, as my best memories are from those days, but they don’t seem to have them. At least this 100 year anniversary of the school itself gave me an opportunity to wander those halls again.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for taking us back to a blast from the past Susanne. I recently picked up my little grand niece from her grade 1 class at the public school I went to. What a weird feeling that was. And next week I’m invited to a high school reunion party. I’ve never gone and being coaxed to go with an old school friend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up- Glenn Miller, Roses, Mexico, New Books, Reviews and Guests. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  6. I loved this story, Susanne. Sounds to me like you found many memories. I can picture you and your friend on the stairway debating over the best group. A hard choice to make! I might have voted for Paul Revere and the Raiders. I’m so glad you went to the reunion!

    Liked by 2 people

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