A Thankful Predication ..#177 (80’s)

Low pressure steam boilers – the school’s heat

.  Gary’s school day began at 5 a. m. unlocking the gate to the fenced security area accommodating the school buses at the high school,  accessing his Suburban for the journey to the grade school.  The custodians first assignment,  for a winter’s day, the firing of the two large low pressure steam boilers, otherwise,  his attention then given to the vacuuming of the library, the cleansing of two male restrooms,  finishing with his upstairs rooms desk tops  and the classroom chalk boards returned to an unused appearance, followed by the dusting of all horizontal surfaces, an unlocking of the entrance doors,  an activation of the Main Street flashing crossing caution light and the posting of the flags all to be accomplished in an hour and forty-five minutes before the 7:00 a.m. bus route embarkation.  In addition to his morning and afternoon regular suburban bus route, Gary inheriting a noon route,  providing the return of the rural morning Kindergarten students to Hazelton and east of town.

.  Gary found Mrs. Elwood’s math,  and Mr. McGee’s downstairs Science 4th and 5th grade classrooms,  conveniently vacated during the last period of the day enabling him to accomplish their room before the end of the school session.  The floors of Gary’s other six rooms and the hall were managed upon returning from his bus route as was the gym floor, it having been done in the morning,  and on an as needed basis,  especially during weather activity with the student utilizing the gym at noon, and while waiting for their bus transportation. The custodians goal was to have his eight classrooms in pristine posture at the beginning of each day when the teacher entered the room.  The other custodian, Pam Cooper,  evoking another tact, cleaning her classroom during the day, while the students participated at recess,  music or other out of classroom activities,  the teachers and students never really experiencing a primeval  classroom accomplishment.    This being his concluding task before the ending his day at 6:00 p.m. with the return of the suburban to the high school.

.  The grade school retaining the original Superior Boiler Works Pawnee boiler, one of two installed when the school was built in 1936,  the second boiler,  a kawanee,   slightly smaller in capacity,  both boiler having never been fitted with automated water level controls and had to be filled manually,  but having at least one safety device, fitted with an electric sensor that would shut the system down if no flames were detected.   The steam boilers providing the only source of heat for the entire building,  every room including the gym having fixed radiators.  The radiators speaking up when first experiencing the steam,  with a clanging sound out of a movie script.  Their clamor and clanking resonating throughout the building,  caused by non-returning  condensation, when the heat from the steam was applied to a cold convector.

.  Directed by Glen Piper,  Gary journeyed  to Wichita  attending  a two-day steam boiler operations, maintenance and safety class, his only operational knowledge was limited, coming from Ed Hermon the departed custodian.  The two-day boiler indoctrination provided an insight to the maintenance aspects, the checking and replacement of steam traps, the large industrial return pumps,  the inspection of the boiler tubes for leakage and the cleansing of the oxidation formed on the numerous tubes and seals.   Also included was the proper monitoring of water  level and pressure, Gary realized,  although the boilers were a remnant from a past era,  it was interesting that an another precipitous realm was making his acquaintance.

.  The daytime experience found the yard endeavor time consuming,  the only grass cutting appliance was a five horsepower Snapper mower with a 32 inch swath.  Mowing during the school day required scheduling, as there was an access restriction to certain areas dictated by the presence of students.   The grounds encompassed two city blocks,  including the little league baseball diamond,  which was always in a state of request for attention. The Main Street and sidewalk enhancing the length of the building,  each with four entrances, demanded an ongoing edging application.

.  The most arresting situation confronting the teachers, one that could cause untold frustration,  the failure of the copy machine.  Gary finding some staff members mechanically inclined,  able to remedy minor obstructions,  others obliging their ignorance,  calling upon him for assistance.   The lone copier having an antiquated backup, something the custodian hadn’t experienced since his Burckhalter Elementary ascendancy in Oakland,  an ink filled,  hand cranked mimeograph machine, the throwback to the  past,  seeing limited use.  Superintendent Piper approached Gary with a solution to the copy machine down-time quandary,   asking if he would be interested in working with the contracted vendor,  whom was finding it difficult to respond from Wichita every time a problem developed with the machine.   Gary agreeing to work with the serviceman,  the two meeting at the Grade School on a Saturday afternoon.   The technician  field-stripping the copier down to its component parts, Gary observing, taking notes, comprehending  their function,  and how to determine and resolve any problems.   The vendor satisfied with Gary’s hands on approach, his acknowledgement of the equipment’s operation,  and discernment to diagnose the cause of a malfunctions.

.  Glen asking about  the Wichita vendor,  questioning if their Saturday meetings came to resolution and the results, Gary relating the event was successful, expressing confidence that he could resolve most of the grade schools copy machine problems.   Glen continued, asking if he would be susceptible in performing this service for all the district copiers,  and if so,  he would see that he receive a monthly stipend as compensation.   Gary was somewhat hesitant in accepting Glens offer, considering the added responsibility, but also witness to  the inconvenience caused by a down copy machine, deciding to accept the undertaking.



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