The parking lot is shaded under tall pine trees.
There are numerous stone stairways up to the school. Moss and fern sprout out through the rock, which has mica or quartz flakes that catch the sunlight and dazzle. The retaining wall around the school is reminiscent of a fortress, with various holes for water to flow out. These holes and nooks remind me of cannon ports on old fortress walls. They are cubbies for trash, but I cannot help but peep into each one expecting to find something unusual, a treasure. Oh Roosevelt, if there ever were a time to batten the hatches and powder the proverbial keg- now would be it. Put up your defenses!
A new bike rack has been installed at the entrance, where a sign shows he age of the building: 1922. I wonder why we do not stamp building with their birth date anymore? Do we not expect them to last very long? Many of the schools that I have visited have proudly displayed their foundation date, even the youthful 1949 Lamberton. The builders of these schools expected them to be here for a long time. How disappointing.
Paint cracks off the base under padlocked metal-barred windows.
The grounds are large enough for an expansive blacktop, which I could easily see remade into an orchard, field, play yard and basket court. There is currently no rim on the basketball backboard. I have been waging war with facilities at the school district to put a rim on one of the backboards at Lea Elementary. They have told me that I cannot do it myself or I would have to fill out two forms, get the principal’s approval, and pay $60 an hour for liability insurance. And it has been 6 months, and they have yet to put up a rim. I feel for Roosevelt and its rimless basketball backboards which taunt the neighborhood with possibility that cannot be actualized.
A ghost mural fades at the edge of the playground. ‘Stop the violence’ one sign reads. I assume it was painted by children. My favorite reads, “relative distance of the planets.” I wonder what it means. Are we relatively close to the planets- when one considers how vast the universe is and how close NASA and Elon Musk are to actualizing space travel and extraplanetary colonization? Are we relatively far from these other planets- when one considers the state of our poor planet earth and the plight of our youth and education system?
The Roosevelt Rough Riders welcoming mat which is larger than the anti-tresspassing signage to the left of the door. I felt welcome. I also felt safe. The school doubles as a fallout shelter. What will happen when the school is sold? Will the neighborhood have a fallout shelter?