I drove by Rowland the other day and wanted to vomit.

That schoolyard had been the center of our universe. In halcyon days, the decade where one’s only concern was threatened rain, it bubbled with activity. Imagine: no less than three swift-pitching diamonds (not counting the rarely-used one facing north outside Miss Roth’s office), two hardball venues, three football areas and a basketball court! No wonder there was always a group and always a game. Indeed, if you weren’t there “in the day”, you missed treasured times.

Those late 50’s/early ‘60’s, there was —at that corner— most of what we wanted and everything we needed. Sharing bats, balls, and gloves, newfound friends carved lifelong memories. Heck, if you didn’t own a bat, someone else did, (and he’d show you how not to crack it). If your ball’d roll in the sewer, some guy’d scrounge a coat hanger, bend it, and fish out the sphere. And yes—even if, Godforbid you were a gloveless nerd, some kid on the other team would flip you his (coming in). Heaven help you, though, if you held it the wrong way!

It was a perfect world, that school yard. Perfect.

That was then, of course, and this is now. That was long before I drove by…and got nauseous.

The first slice taken from our heaven came early. We were still in grade school when they installed the sign midway ‘cross the northwest corner on Wrenford. ”No Dogs Allowed”, it read. This one pole, strategically placed, eliminated touch football outside sixth grade classrooms.

Board Of Ed clowns: they weren’t done. Another post—this one mid the expanse of land on Bayard, was soon to sprout. It precluded not only baseball (played west to east), but fast pitch games against the wall.

Two strikes, though, were not enough. You know that swift pitching area adjacent to Miss Shafer’s room 24? A series of concrete cylinders (two feet tall, perhaps a foot in diameter) now spreads across it, from left to right where…wait for it: they’ve added a parking lot.

All this ensued in the 70’s, perhaps the 80’s. Married then, with children, I paid little note. Administrators had moved on too, I suppose, but while those players changed, their game went on.

Sometime in the past decades they pulled the signs and put in tar.

A driveway curls (this century) through Rowland’s northern grass, not far from an added parking lot….

And another drive—wide and permanent—goes, GET THIS, on the big diamond, the entire length of the foul lines, from third to first. Let me put this in SouthEuclidspeak; It runs from the closed end of the Boobus Bowl gridiron, by the fence where once hung a “Muck Fandel” sign, east toward the barbed wire fence against which we’d stand waiting to be picked for a game, then north, up the right field line (of blessed memory), and dies…where else? At a parking lot.

What is it, by the way, with all these roadways and parking spaces? Fifty years I’ve been gone from Mr. Goode’s class and they haven’t added one single classroom. Why all the parking? Are third-graders driving now? My guess is the only “green space” left is in contractors’ wallets.

It was Wednesday when I took that drive, gagging.

‘ Drove by today… just before writing…just to be sure.The basketball court: it’s gone too! How sad.

My pre-driving days, the friendly confines of Rowland’s fields was the safest, most productive place to be. We learned teamwork, competition, discipline, and on occasion, even grew up.

They paved over our memories at that school yard, to be sure. And so it is. Worse yet, though, they poured concrete on the good times of the next generations—and the memories they might have made.


  1. Grandpa Maisay says:


    Talk to me. Take a look at my hometown of Lomza, Poland. Oy vey.

    My new buddy Joe South (we just met this past September 5th) said it best in his marvelous song “Don’t it Make You Want to go Home”

    “But there’s a six-lane highway down by the creek
    Where I went skinny-dippin’ as a child
    And a drive-in show where the meadows used to grow
    And the strawberries used to grow wild

    There’s a drag strip down by the riverside
    Where my grandma’s cow used to graze
    Now the grass don’t grow and the river don’t flow
    Like it did in my childhood days”

    Some things just are.

    Hang in there.

    Grandpa Maisay

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