Childhood is such that when you return to any place after many years, you are struck by how small the place actually was. We haven't even noticed the gradual change in our heights. With each year spent away, the myth of each significant place in our childhood becomes stronger, distorted, larger. Norrie School is one of those places for me.
Two schools in Ironwood really mattered to me during the 1970s: Ironwood Catholic Grade School and Norrie School. ICGS was where all my brothers and sisters attended on the other side of town, and Norrie School was a public school only a few blocks away from our house.
But Norrie School was different. It had a huge playing field that doubled as a baseball/kickball/football field in the fall and spring, and as an ice rink in the winter. (It even had a nice shack for iceskaters, complete with a fireplace.) It also had a long row of high swings, two basketball courts, and magnificent inclines. We always gravitated toward the school in the summer because one could bicycle round and round the building for hours and end with a heart-stopping leap over the edge of the school's parking lot and hold nerves steadily down the steep incline (see the slope on the right in the picture above) and race across the field of dandelions below. (I return to this place a few times in THIS WAY TO THE ACORNS.)
What you see above is nothing like the magnificient memories I have of the place. The fireplace shack next to the white house in the distance has been torn down; the long line of swings is gone, and replaced with--ugh!--an atrocious playground. But I did take a photograph below that, for me, captured that feeling of hope in going, somehow, beyond the world I knew then: "one day you will fly there / just close your eyes . . . ."
Copyright © 2001 by Raymond Luczak. All rights reserved.