A Colloquium From The Past……….#177 (80’s)

Kiowa Grade School

Kiowa Grade School

 Gary’s first acquaintance with South Barber Elementary School structure  commonly referred to by the populace as,  The Grade School,  a colloquium from the past built by the WPA in the 1930’s was engrossing.  It was inherit from his childhood,  people, places and events of the past instilled some sort of haunting mystical spell, especially the inner walls of a  building from an earlier era, one that absorbed,  listened,  and witnessing the initiation that was the foundation of their youthful years.  From the street the building appears to be a single story structure with the exception of the gym,  but in reality possesses three below ground areas.  Beneath the east portal and wing resides the cafeteria, kitchen and classrooms.  Beneath the southwest portal is the library,  boiler annex and in the gym rest a downstairs music room and  girls and boys dressing rooms.   Normal access to the school was by the Main entrances or the south teacher walkway.  The two west side gym doors allowed access for school bus traffic. Remaining was a stage exit door, two others on the east wing and the only classroom to have its own exit door, the kindergarten room.

South entrance - teacher parking

South entrance – teacher parking

Gary’s first accordance with the building was its appearance of disarray,  both sides of the halls amassed with desk and furniture from every classroom, a single path allowing passage but what struck him wasn’t the clutter but the abandon silence.  After a brief search discovering a lone person in the building, the new employee introducing himself to Shirley Sieber.  Shirley and Ed Hermon being the two departing custodians but Shirley agreeing to defer her exit until Pam Cooper could was available, Pam asking and receiving a delay in her starting date.   Shirley very well versed in her duties explaining the assignments to be completed during the summer months, most of which had already been accomplished.   The first project Gary was called upon was to assist Shirley in the stripping and waxing of the kitchen and cafeteria floors,  Shirley was well adept in the procedure  having already accomplished her appointments of classroom floors.  Gary discovering the experience laborious and somewhat calescent, the buildings window mounted air conditioning units not being allowed to be activated until the teachers arrived at the start of the school year, the Kansas summer heat having taken up residency.

New grade school principal Juanita Smith

New grade school principal Juanita Smith

With Shirley’s departure and Pam’s arrival, the two working together began restoring the rooms to accessibility,  a classroom appearance once again attained, the hall floors the last to be addressed with an effervescent shine.   Glen Piper’s arrival in the building,  presenting a walk-thru inspection and an introduction to Juanita Smith,  the newly appointed principal position.  The Grade School having done without in the past, the superintendent of schools having accorded the principal’s duties,  Mrs Smith to continued her commission as a fourth and fifth grade english teacher as well as the dual role of Grade School principal.  Gary’s work day schedule was a first, an anomaly,  a 50 hour week during the summer months and the normal school year requiring  a 60 hour work week, 12 hours per day,  5 days a week.   The explanation was coherent, the academia administration getting around the forty hour overtime by designating the added four hours as a separate bus driving entity,  the custodians bus driving assignment at least on paper, a separate employment.

Gated bus yard.

Gated bus yard.

Joe Cox & Craig Ragan

Joe Cox & Craig Ragan

The School buses were gated at the high school,  six 40 passenger Bluebird coaches,  one standard  54 occupancy bus and three 12 passenger 4 wheel drive Chevrolet suburban.   The bus driving assignments were dictated by location, high school custodians Joe Cox and Craig Ragan would provide for the transfer route between the Grade School, High School and the Hardtner,  utilizing two 40 passenger buses, Bud and Pam both residence of Hardtner would drive Suburbans securing  north and east of highway 281 in Hartner, their routes included the non-blacktop lanes of the rural roads.   Gary was appointed the longest route, his 1974 Suburban the oldest,  a maroon and gray 4 wheel drive,  a journey encompassing 38 miles,  10 miles of unimproved dirt road,  supposedly maintained with the township road grader;  Just prior to the start of school,  Gary notified Glen that he was going to run his route several time and make sure he introduced himself to the parents  and at the same time projecting an arrival time enabling the students to be promptly available in the morning.

 Before the start of school the  teachers began arriving  making ready their classroom and colloquium, the two custodians meeting with Juanita, Gary having taken the time to assemble a diagram  similar to a blueprint of the school,  designating all the rooms and areas of the building.   Presenting it to Pam to divide up  the work responsibility within the building.   Pam glancing at the diagram, apparently having already come to a decision,  immediately asserting that she would be responsible for 4 classrooms, two 3rd grades, Special Ed room and  one 2nd grade classroom.  In addition she would do the girls restrooms,  the administrative office,  cafeteria floor,  the stairwell and east  section of the hall,  expressing that it was all she was doing departed the meeting.  Gary finding he had inherited two-thirds of the building , composed of 8 classrooms,  teachers lounge,  the gymnasium, stage, bleachers, downstairs dressing rooms, the library, three-quarters of the upstairs and all of the downstairs hall.  Additionally he had  two city blocks of yard mowing and edging, maintaining the tennis courts,  little league baseball diamond.  Then the added responsibility for operation of the building’s heating system, the  low pressure steam boilers with their antiquated radiators,  plus maintaining the abundant fluorescent lights and ballast and the privilege to raise the and lower the National and State flags on the flag pole each school day.   Gary questioned whether the time allotted for his bus route,  the school and its grounds would be sufficient,  the answer would arrive with the start of school.


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