Monday, November 3, 2008

Going home to Vote

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.

Ron Lopez
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Anonymous said...

I came on your blog by accident. I am, unfortunately, a bit older than you and graduated from the sixth grade in 1955. However, Mr. Gartenlaub was principal during my time at PS 179

Ron Lopez said...

1955? The Gordons were our downstairs tenants before my Grandfather bought the house.
I believe they all went to 179 too.
Maybe a Richard Gorden?, they were all older than us.


Anonymous said...

Sounds vaguely familiar but in those days PS 179 was 90% Jewish and names like that were common.

Anonymous said...

I went to PS 179 from 1968-1974. Grew up on Ocean Parkway and Ditmas Avenue. I remember the Principal you mentioned was there for a short time when I started. Good memories from those days. Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on E. 2nd off Avenue C in the 50s and 60s. Attended 179 1955-1961. Nice memories. Great site!! You had to have lived near my friend Joseph Giunti (sp?). REally nice guy!!!!