Every November around this time of year they'd suddenly appear in the gym at PS 179. Like giant tall metal monsters they would all be lined up against the wall that faced our schoolyard.
As a kid I was always curious about what they actually were.
Maybe new refrigerators for the cafeteria? Maybe candy machines for our classrooms? Maybe some type of robot that would replace our teachers?
And then the next week they were gone, Just like that, gone.
I must have been in third or fourth grade before I finally knew what they were.
“How many children can tell me what those machines are down in the gym?’
Miss Saltzman looked as beautiful as ever when she asked that question. With long black hair, full red lips and white go-go boots, Miss Saltzman was any eight year old boy’s dream come true.
Oh God, I just had the biggest crush on my third grade teacher. And she even told my Mom about it too, how embarrassing was that?
“Yes Ronald, can you tell me what they are”
“They are voting machines Miss Saltzman”.
My face turned a deep red, because that’s what always happened when Miss Saltzman looked at me and smiled.
Her white teeth just glistened, lighting up our dark depressing classroom above Avenue C.
“Yes Ronald, that’s exactly what they are”. “And tomorrow is Election Day, the day that people all across America will vote for a new president”.
You know every time I go back to PS 179 to vote, a million memories come back to me. The years I spent there as a kid, my teachers, my friends, the games we played in the schoolyard.
There was our principal, Mister Gartenloub, The assistant principal Mister Tribach.
The Thursday’s we had to wear a white shirt and red tie because we had “auditorium”.
My first day of school in September, along with my last day of school in June.
The countess times we practied the Beatles "Hey Jude" for our graduation ceromony back in June of 1969.
And of course the day my brother died on June 18, 1969. Just afew days before summer vacation.
It's a felling I just can't describe, It's like your whole life comes rushing back to you in the form of a six story school.
Yeah, thats what happens everytime I go to vote at PS 179.
And it’s funny, but everything in there looks so much smaller than when I was eight years old. The gigantic vast gym where I first saw those voting machines looks no bigger than my living room.
The ceilings that always looked so distant, well, if I jumped high enough today, I think I could probably touch them with my fingers.
And Miss Saltzman, well, she must be about sixty five years old today. But I bet you she's still as beautiful as ever.
But you know what the funny thing is, Those voting machines still look like the ones I saw when I was five years old. Switches flicked for Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Regan. Along with those long red metal handles pulled to record your votes, Yeah they still look exactly the same too.
So who says you can’t go home and have a million memories come rushing back to you. Feel like a child again, and sometimes almost start crying when you walk out the door.
Yeah, all this is still there for me to visit, and I do it every few years when I go to vote.
At my treasure chest of childhood memories, simply called PS 179.