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School days, schools razed. Find them on this web page

By JIM BUSEK • Jun 11, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Does your school — not your class, your school — have an annual alumni reunion?

Mine does. Actually two of my schools have a reunion at the same time in the same place.

For the first few years of my school-going life, my school district was known as Townsend-Wakeman.

Later, it became Western Reserve.

Prior to the Townsend-Wakeman days, it was simply the Wakeman school district.

Now, alumni of all three of those old-and-current school districts continue to gather on the third Saturday of June to see their (increasingly) old schoolmates and remember days gone by.

This year will be the 105th such alumni reunion. And it’s quite a bit different than it used to be.

In the late 1940s and through the 1950s, The Alumni — that’s how my parents used to refer to the school reunion — was the social event of the summer in Wakeman.

Lynn Bailey (Townsend-Wakeman Class of 1958) recently emailed with fond memories of how my dad would back up his 1953 Mercury to one of the north side doors on the Wakeman school gym on the night of the Alumni gathering. His friends had their cars on that side lawn, too. All of them had trunks full of beer and alcohol and mixers.

And if that sounds outrageous to you, get this: my dad was mayor of Wakeman at the time!

But on the evening of The Alumni, apparently conventional rules were suspended.

We are much more subdued and law-abiding now. I say “we,” because I am involved with planning this year’s alumni event.

If I back up my car to the side door of the hall where we are assembling (St. Mary’s social hall in Wakeman), it will be to unload my computer bag and projector. We’re doing a slide show to honor the classes of 1949, 1959 and 1969. Much tamer than the booze-fueled events of way back when. But also much less likely that anybody will get a DWI citation afterward.

No, we will spend our time together that evening recalling our old schoolmates and teachers and things that happened in the building and on the playground.

Too many of those schoolmates and even a couple of our school buildings are gone now.

Yes, in our sprawling, consolidated school district we had schools all over our part of Huron County.

The Wakeman school sat just three doors south of my childhood home on River Street in Wakeman.

Townsend School was a mile or so north of Rt. 20 on Hartland Center Road.

And Hartland Elementary was way south of Rt. 20 on the corner of Hartland Center and Court Road.

The Wakeman and Hartland buildings are gone now; demolished and hauled away.

The Townsend school building — where I attended junior high, two of my happiest school years—is still standing; the front section converted to apartments and the old gym and cafeteria looking, well, pretty rough.

Naturally, I wanted to show all these old school building in my slide show at this year’s Alumni.

But good pictures of them are surprisingly hard to come by.

So I went online and found a website that had me mesmerized. Not only did it have pictures of the schools I was interested in — Townsend, Wakeman and Hartland — it had pictures of the schools that were in those communities before the ones I was looking for.

And, if you went to school in Huron County, I am guessing you can see pictures of the school you attended on that website as well.

Just go to oldohioschools.com/huron_county. All the old schools from this county — and I think you will be surprised to see how many there were — are pictured there.

Two warnings:

• The webmaster is apparently not very nostalgic and, beneath a picture of a school building you feel very warmly about, you often see blunt words like “Closed and demolished. Gone.”

• When you go to the website, you might want to take a compass. Otherwise, you may end up so far down memory lane you will never find your way back.

 

Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] hotmail.com.

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