Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Never going back, to my old school

So, they tore down my high school back in 2007... which is a shame really. It was a great old building with amazing architectural details, original moldings etc... (and they didn't even TRY to do any architectural salvage); but the real estate it was on was worth more to the town than the building was...

They had already moved the school to another building though. I was part of a class of 143, and there were about 700 kids total in the school. By 2004 when they moved iy, the school was over 1200 students, and the old building just couldn't accommodate them all. Plus they needed air conditioning (oh lord I remember how hot that place was in the late spring and summer), new wiring, new heating... It was just impractical to upgrade.

So, they took what was the middle school (about a mile away), tore part of it down, built the biggest possible school they cold fit up there, and made IT the high school. Then they moved the middle school into the high school. Finally, after they tore it down, they rebuilt a new middle school where the old high school was. You can see it out the drivers window of this video a few seconds into their drive. It just doesn't have the... presence, or grace, of the old building.

So anyway, my uncle sent me a link to the demolition video. He went to high school there, 13 years before I did. We had a lot of the same teachers in fact. Two of them actually made up a little song about him, and were still singing it when I, and my brother, went there; that's how memorable he was (and how odd those teachers were, but they were great teachers. Unfortunately both have passed on now).

Well, that got me to looking around the web for stuff about Milton High School, since I was already feeling nostalgic after last weeks facebook episode.

First thing was what I find to be an interesting, though poorly delivered, lecture on Miltons architectural history:

If you are interested in colonial period architectural, especially early federal style, and greek revival homes (though many have been renovated into a less ornate style); Milton is a bit of a wonderland. There are hundreds of remaining 18th and early 19th century homes still standing, and in good repair (and outrageous cost).

Then I went to the school districts pages, looking for some decent pics (and not finding them). As it turns out, a couple of the kids I went to high school with, now work there (one's a guidance counselor, two are teachers). Most of my teachers have retired or moved on, but there's still a few. My chorus director is still the school districts music director... she was great.

Then I found this little missive:

That's from a kid I went to school with as well, Corey Rodrigues, who's now a standup comedian. He was two years behind me, in my brothers class. I played football with his older brother Tuere (pronounced Tuh-Ray), and Corey was good friends with my brother Rob (as was John Jones, one of the first shout outs).

In his video, he namechecks about 30 people I also went to school with; mostly a year or two younger than me.

Corey is right, Jim Connelly absolutely cannot keep a secret to save his life. He's still one of the nicest guys I've ever met in my entire life.

"Gumby" (his real name is Jim) was one of my brothers best friends growing up. He's actually one of the idiots who burned my house down getting high up in my attic (they called my brother "wildebeest", Jim was Gumby, and their other idiot friend was "Stinky").

Lauren Hollien was definitely hot, though she and her brother Mark both look like elves. Seriously, Mark Hollien looks like Legolas, without the hair. Pointy ears and everything.

When I was growing up there, the town was very anti-business, and especially anti-chain business. They only allowed a few stores in two small commercial districts, and three little local markets or convenience stores, that had been there for literally decades.... The town still is anti-business actually, with some of the strictest zoning in the state.

One of those little markets was Tedeschis stores, (which used to be Curtis Compact stores which were actually founded in Milton, and grew into a chain after buying up two of the other little neighborhood stores the town had grandfathered in). Corey mentioned it in the video, because the one a few hundred yards from the high school was shoplifting central.

They used to be rabidly anti franchise; but that policy ended up actually harming the local businesses more than helping; except the yuppy/hippy/wholefoods/freetrade type places in Milton village. Corey mentions how they got stomped in his little rap.

Apparently they finally let a Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks into east Milton (the "poorer" part of town, by which I mean the average house price is only $400,000 instead of $700,000 plus in the rest of town. The median home price is $600k, even after the crash. Here's the Zillow page on the town) after the local coffee shop burned down in '07.

My stepmother, who also grew up in Milton, actually used to work across the street [from the coffee shop] at a barber shop. In fact, that barbershop is where she met my dad (who is from Ireland, and never lived in Milton... odd coincidence); after he got out of prison when I was 18.

It was an odd experience, growing up poor in such a rich town... But in general a good one. I regret that my kids don't have a town where they can walk around, with actual trees and sidewalks... and some real sense of community and history.