When they tore down the limestone walls of my grade school in 2008 part of me came tumbling down into the Oklahoma dust. It was the part of my childhood that soaked into my pores through simple exposure to the cold hard stone, the sheer structural mass of those Limestone walls, along with the soft warm hearts of those who taught me grace and patience mentoring and teaching me for seven years. Through the dust and debris of the demolition I’ve recognized that both areas in my life, the hard law of truth standing sure like those stone walls, and the softer side of my humanity, love and mercy and grace, both came to me in wondrous moments in that spot now occupied by heaps of stone. Moments of grace, truth, doubt and wonder. I still carry those moments with me…some longing for resurrection from the stone pile…others preferring to remain buried forever. Small moments in time: Sounds, sights, smells, tastes and feelings…a world of wonder, learning and hope tempered by a sense that life didn’t always treat everyone the same and nothing was guaranteed to be fair for me or anyone else. And so those moments washed over my adolescent soul in wondrous moments of hope and trembling times of fear and anxiety. As the Bible says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Here are a few memorable sounds from Limestone school.
The crushing violence of a high speed collision, metal on metal, outside at the Limestone intersection of highway 60 & 75 before there was a traffic light and only stop signs cautioned drivers as accidents interrupted the melancholy quiet and boredom of early afternoon post-lunch sleepiness. Sonic booms from passing military jets punctuated our afternoon recess reminding us how small and insignificant we were. The rattling clatter of the film projector along with the voice over by the never-seen yet ever-present narrator who seemed to know just about everything from the orbital position of protons to the fastest mammal, the cheetah, and the largest, the blue whale. That guys voice lived inside my head as a constant academic arch angel sitting on one shoulder counterpunching the angel of skepticism sitting on my other shoulder. Those guys had many running battles on days like Earth day and Nuclear Safety Day and the days we toured places like the National Zinc smelters. The skeptical angel looked like Alfred E. Neuman, the cover boy of Mad Magazine, with big jug ears, a missing front tooth and one eye slightly lower than the other, mischief written all over his face. Those guys still sometimes balance on my shoulders, battles between orthodoxy and mischief, although the battle lines are askew and not always defined quite as elegantly as articulated by the velvety voiced narrator in the 8 mm films.