Memories of Simpler Times

By on 11 October, 2017 in Sandra Nickel with 0 Comments

When I began kindergarten in Kirkwood, MO (a suburb of St. Louis), John Pitman Elementary School was already set for closure. Built in 1914, it had served long and well. But closing was just not to be. The Baby Boom was in full swing, and every classroom in our little town was pressed into service. Sometime classes even met in the finished basement of Pitman School!

Finally, after 64 long years of service, the school system sold the land to a local bank and John Pitman came tumbling down. All that remains today is the flagpole, which stands at attention on an elevated platform on the bank property.

Well, that’s not quite all that remains. Also lingering are the memories of thousands of people who attended the school during the idyllic years in the last century when times were simpler and children pretty much ran free from dawn to dark. No helicopter parents then! Among them was Wallace Ward, still a Kirkwood resident, who joined with other Pitman alums to stage the first ever John Pitman reunion, which I had the pleasure of attending last weekend.

Two hundred or more folks (my brother, Frank Piatt, and I included) crowded into what was once a small Kroger Grocery Story, now known as the Kirkwood Station Brewery. Those of us lucky enough to attend spent four hours reminiscing and imbibing. It was a magical time indeed.

I had fully expected to be among the very oldest present. To my surprise and delight, there were a number of folks who had attended John Pitman as far back as the 1940’s. To my disappointment, only three of my classmates (out of a possible 100 or more) were there and none of them had been among my really close childhood friends.

My takeaways:

  1. We were lucky, we oldsters, to have grown up then. We walked to school with no parental anxiety. We rode our bicycles far and wide, sometimes on long summer days as far as 20 miles from home. We were allowed to go to downtown St. Louis on the city bus — with no adult chaperone — at the tender age of 12 or 13. Imagine if a parent today allowed such personal freedom. He or she would no doubt be reported to the authorities as neglectful!
  2. Kids were different then. Teachers working alone often handled a classroom of 35 students without a lot of disciplinary problems. Attention spans were much longer and child behavior a lot less disruptive.
  3. It’s no wonder I love Montgomery! Big city traffic and congestion was fun to experience for a short while. But after four days, I was more than happy to return to the relative peace and quiet of Midtown. It retains all the benefits of living in a larger metropolitan area but without feeling congested and hectic. How blessed we are — even if the times are quite as simple anymore.

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 30 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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