Facebook friends remember the old grade school
July 26, 2010
by Mark Ollig

How many of us have been asked this question by a person at work or someone we meet during a social event: “So, are you on Facebook?”

Now admit it, some of us probably will pause for a moment to consider whether we really want this particular person to be reading all of our Facebook postings and viewing the photos we upload.

Let’s face it, when we are on Facebook, we are among our selected friends and so we sometimes let our guard down and become a little silly (well, I do) and just be ourselves on it.

Facebook has now officially reached the 500 million users mark, with each user having an average of 130 friends.

Friends on Facebook are constantly helping each other by connecting and sharing with other users more of the people and interests which matter in their lives.

As our Facebook friends find the pages of their favorite celebrities, community groups, businesses, and public organizations, we tend to see these same pages being recommended for us to join in the “recommended pages” column on Facebook.

I originally joined Facebook to more easily connect with family members and friends.

Little did I know that it would become the medium which allowed me to also connect with former fellow students who I had not seen or talked to in (gulp) decades.

During the recent demolition of the old Winsted Holy Trinity grade school building (where I attended school) Facebook all of a sudden became a popular source for the information being shared among the other former students.

Many of these former students now live in other parts of Minnesota or in different states.

During the last few months, when traveling to Winsted, I would eventually end up at the grade school building. I would get out of the car with my camera to take pictures of the old school. Upon arriving back home, I would immediately upload these photos to my Facebook profile, where all my Facebook friends could see and comment on them.

During May, I uploaded a six-picture photo album onto my Facebook page which included a photo of the school’s southeast corner, where the 1907 corner block had been removed. One of the first comments from a former student was, “Can we get a brick or two?”

Thus, the “tearing-down-of-the-grade-school” conversation began on Facebook.

Soon, other photos of the grade school were being uploaded and shared among other Facebook users and former students.

Facebook quickly became the place to meet and chat about the tearing down of our beloved grade school.

Many former student Facebook users began to reminisce about their experiences attending the grade school, and were posting messages about past teachers and memorable events which took place there.

These grade school conversation memories cascaded – causing a wave of nostalgia to set in.

“It looks very strange to see our grade school gone,” commented one Facebook user under a photo of where the grade school once stood.

“Looking at these pictures kind of makes me a little nauseated. Very sad, progress really sucks sometimes,” were the words written by another former student under a photo showing the school being demolished.

On July 10, yours truly uploaded photos of what was left after all of the brick and mortar walls had been removed. There really wasn’t much left, except for the stone foundation and a few piles of rubble scattered here and there.

Lying on top of a small pile of broken bricks, pieces of plaster, and busted lathes, I came across an item that immediately caught my attention.

I focused my camera and took a picture of a dusty and slightly damaged plastic cover case from an older phonograph record player (looked like a 1970s Fisher Price player) which still contained the paper jacket from a children’s record for grades K-6. The record jacket showed a picture of a small group of smiling grade school children with the words “Music! Music! Music!” written above them in bold colors.

It was eerily quiet as I stood out there alone on that hot afternoon, surveying the remains of my former school.

Seeing that picture lying on top the ruins of what was once a place filled with learning, laughter, and memories caused me to become somewhat taken aback and melancholy.

I then turned to my right and looked at the newly built grade school building, where brand new memories are being made by a whole new generation of children.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

This columnist is thankful to have been able to re-connect with former childhood friends and family who also attended Holy Trinity grade school, and he fondly appreciates reminiscing about the past with all of them.

To see the picture I took and wrote about in today’s column, go to http://tinyurl.com/2834dso.

A video of the grade school’s demolition can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/26fe7kz.