Many years ago I had occasion to visit New York for the purpose of going to the Village Gate, a well known jazz club located at the corner of Bleeker and Thompson Streets in "the village"...Imagine my shock, surprise and chagrin when I arrived only to discover that "the Gate" had been closed and replaced  by a Walgreens drug store....The horror..."The Gate" was a temple...a shrine...and a land mark for all who understand the place that jazz and its venues occupy in our culture.... 

I had this idea for a post about my childhood neighborhood and education only to discover that, the school that I attended as a child had been closed...Budget cuts and cost saving had come to my childhood neighborhood in a devastating way....

This has fallen on me more heavily than my discovery that "progress" had cost me the location of the memories I have of getting piano lessons from some of the jazz greats.....

This was, after all, my hometown...My home...

In may of 2010 the Board of Education in my home town voted to close the school I attended from kindergarten through eighth grade,(1951-1960), Thompson Elementary School...

The house I grew up in is a Single-Family Home located at 20 Hall Street, West Haven CT. It has 3 beds, 1 bath, approximately 1,358 square feet of living space. The property has a lot size of 6,321 sqft and was built in 1924. It's still there!!!

Thompson School, is at 165 Richards Street, one block from Hall Street, less than a 5 minute walk. The arrow shows the location of the school. My house was on the section of Hall Street, immediately adjacent to I-95, between Washington Ave. and N. Union Ave. We lived on the other side of the street before I-95 was constructed and were able to move directly across the street when the highway came through...

The map here shows how Thompson was the center of my neighborhood and my world.  Outside of my home, the school was the anchor of my childhood existence virtually all of our after school activities, planned or unplanned, supervised or unsupervised, were in and/or around the school and the school yard...

I have stated in other posts that I was often the first or only black kid in a variety of ordinary or normal childhood activities....Look at the map...We were the only black family on grid and most of the grid not visible here....I have two brothers, but being the oldest, I was the first in everything and everywhere...

There area was ethnically diverse, blue collar as can be, but all white...

I was the penny in a march of dimes...A raisin in a box of rice....

I delivered newspapers to most of the homes in the area covered here...

My mother is buried in the cemetery shown here....as are my ex-wife's parents...

My first apartment with my wife and son was located on Wharton Street...I commuted to, and graduated from, UConn Law School while living there....

Thompson School is where my son went until he transferred to middle school...The school had gone from K-8 to K-6....

When I attended Thompson, the girls entered the building through the entrance located at rear on the left side of the building, the boys at the rear on the right...The front or main entrance was only to be used by parents, teachers, school officials and dignitaries....

 I'm completely and totally convinced that I did well in school because of the neighborhood school concept...I was educated  in an all white environment despite being a black child in an all white environment, not because I was a black child who was "bussed" in....

As a result, I know white people socially, culturally, intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally...I know more about white folks than most black people can possibly know and, I know more about white folks than I'm supposed to know...I'm not sure that I should be thankful...However, these are the people who left and indelible imprint on my psyche and who  had a hand in setting the course of my life...

Clarence E .Thompson Elementary School Teachers & Staff (1951-1960):

Ms Roberts: Kindergarten

 Ms Bitzer: 1st Grade

Ms McPherson: 2nd Grade

Ms Erickson: 3rd Grade

Ms Logan: 4th Grade

Ms Moran: 5th Grade

Ms Doherty: 6th Grade

Ms Hildrich: 7th & 8th Grade

Mr Walker:  7th & 8th Grade

Mr Russell: 7th & 8th Grade

Ms Reynolds: Principal

Mr Metcalf: Custodian

I produced this list from memory, testament to the effect and impact that these white folks had, and, in many ways, still have on me and my life....

Views: 163

Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2013 at 10:46am

`

Oh, You, Respectfully, Ron Powell: You no WASP.

`

You just seem to try to make us grown man cry?

Thanks. After draft - a hillside behind my Home?

Developer literally Plow the sleigh-ride Hill Away.

`

The Hillside was leveled. The Wood Lot Denuded.

I'd been away awhile. I visited my Nation's Abyss.

Greedy merchants didn't use a agrarian Ox-Plow.

`

I have returned to my grammar school Play-Yard.

Past. Present. Future. A Red-Tail Hawk Shrill Call.

Today. This Morn. A Red Tail Hawk. A Shrill Cries.

`

A few Bluebirds, Red Cardinals, and Private Thought:

`

A Youth's thoughts, A old man's cries, and Peace too.

I Hear You. Oh, Present. The Past, Future, and Now.

Today, I almost sensed? The Guilt, CEO's ` Guilty.

I witnessed White Cumulous Clouds. Dark ` Skies,

Now, Present, Now, we Live Awake. Dead` Alive,

and . . .

I can't explain the Pain, a Release, A Deep Cry.

I just was in the woods, alone, and A Grieving.

I almost feel indulgent, as if, I was Renewed.

`

Sure Enough . . .

Sad, and Hopeful.

So Much To Convey.

Thanks. Civil Strife:

`

I Listened attentively:

`

Dr. Alan Hedges -

`

American Civil War -

Antietam - Gettysburg -

Local Rail Roads - History -

Those who have No Clue -

Will Suffer Alone - Fate -

They'll Suffer Their Fate -

`

A Destruction of one's ` Self.

You help enlighten and convey.

Mere words often fail. We travail.

It's all right to hear 'our' Hearts:

`

It's ache. Pain. We must embrace.

The Sunshine sheds brighten rays.

Thanks again. We can go 'pop-off'

`

as in . . .

be attentive and be in a moment. 

As a Sun sheds warmth and light.

Glum thoughts (ideas) bum outs.

`

So, we wander off. Hear Melody.

Harmony is within. Chaos. Calm.

Maybe I'll polish this notion Idea.

`

Idea - means a small light bulb.

As in, a Flicker. A Light shines.

We sense Light. Oh, dark abyss.

`

It's Best to Choose Light. Cheese.

I owe Con Chapman Goat Cheese.

I stopped HERE as I wander` bout.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on March 23, 2013 at 11:13am

In the end, black or white, red, yellow, brown, green or purple... it isn't the color of a person's skin that makes any difference, "rather it is the content of their character."  Let's hope that our grandchildren have the chance to live in an America that is truly color blind and that MLK's Dream has become real for everyone.  Great post R&L

Comment by Ron Powell on March 23, 2013 at 2:02pm

AJ, again, your lyrics need music...

JMac, My upbringing has made me ambivalent about a number of things...What you see here is the tip of the iceberg AND the mouth of a volcano...Another post for another time....

Comment by Arthur James on March 24, 2013 at 11:22am

`

Ron Powell. You play piano.

I came to reread You etc.,

`

Gt Book of Wonderful Noises?

Dr. Seuss's Books do Singsong.

`

Mr Brown Can MOO! Can You?

`

That isa Dr. Zeuess title.

`

Knock Knock Knock

Tic Tock Knock Knock

I Heard this Old Fact

A Grandfather Clock

Has in just One Day

`

68,400 Tic Tocks.

I forget. Right?

I may be Wrong?

`

Maybe we can try to count?

One Hour has 60 minutes.

Sixty minutes has 60 ticks.

Stay out of  Street Trouble. 

Comment by Ron Powell on March 25, 2013 at 2:59pm

I'm a better arranger than I am a composer...However, I'd give your words room in a composition and provide a melodic and rythmic backdrop that pushes the words to the listeners ears on one level and releases the verse to float freely on another....

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