By ROBERT MOORE CJ Columnist
CNHI News Service
Friday night, Decemter 30th, 2011, the abandoned old building that used to house Eubank High School burned down to the exterior brick. A good shove will send them tumbling into the chasm that remains of the smoldering ruins. Locals say this is the 4th or 5th time the building has suffered attempts at arson and it did not survive the last. As I stood there this morning I pointed out the rooms where the best high school English/Lit teacher, Mary Margaret Silvers, worked. Just below that room was the window of my history/geography teacher, Gordon Warren, who managed to get into my thick head the meat of his subjects. Over to the right was the classroom of M.L. Bodie who operated under the assumption that if you did not come to learn chemistry that was not his problem. Above that was the classroom of Bob Adams, who did his best to teach math. To many he was successful but to me he was not. I doubt it was his fault.
My favorite room was a gaping hole. The library where we had study hall under the watchful gaze of Principle J.B. Albright was a playground for me. Not only did I love the books but I loved the horsing around with the guys and trying to impress the girls. That earned me a stint as an assistant in the library just to occupy my time and relieve others from watching me.
I stood up at the head of the sidewalk and looked down the long band of concrete that used to run between rows of maple trees up to the front door. On warm days kids would be lined up, sitting on the edge of the sidewalk doing what high school kids did in the '60s. Right over there is the classroom I was in when we heard that President Kennedy had been murdered. November 22, 1963, I was a Junior.
When I entered college at Somerset Community College in 1965 I was very well prepared in the subjects that I had bothered to learn. I did not do so well in math. The lessons taught to me by Ms. Silvers and Mr. Warren are still with me. My love of writing and reading, my abiding interest in history and government. I can still pore over a map until I find myself wondering where the time went. A testament to my high school.
The principle and the teachers knew my parents and often word of my misdeeds would beat me home. That always made for a bad day. The teachers and J.B. made it their business to know mine. This is what makes the difference in the schools of today. It is not the teacher's fault for the most part. It is the parents who don't reinforce the teachers and who do not create an expectation of excellence in their children. On nights that there was a basketball game the town lit up. The parking lots were full and all the people the law would allow would jam the old gym to watch the local team perform. Everyone knew the player's names and their parents. The younger kids would run in and out, over to the concession stand for some fresh popped popcorn and a small cup of Coca-Cola.
When the high school closed, a victim of consolidation, the heart of the town died. The hub of interest and entertainment was missing and there was just no reason to be in the town of Eubank unless you had business there and that gradually faded.
Now it is a ghost of itself. A pale heap of painted brick and ashes with countless memories attached to them. I hope that soon the current owner, who failed his obligation to the town to contribute something, will quickly clear away the rubble so that the past can quietly die and, perhaps, make way for a future. The owner now cries that he was going to make a children's center out of it but they are crocodile tears. He had allowed the building to fall into such disrepair that there was no future possible for that icon.
Arsonists have become increasingly bolder in the Eubank area. It will be a relief when the perpetrators are receiving their just desserts. But for now, lift a glass to old Eubank High. It is gone but it will never be forgotten as long as we who passed through those doors hold our memories dear.
Robert F. Moore—Eubank Elementary and High Schools—1952-1965