Friday, January 11, 2008

The Second "New" Casti Gym

Alice took me over on the bike to the opening ceremony of a new building at her old high school. She thought riding a bike over to see the new "Fitness & Athletic Center" would be a good idea. Something about avoiding adult-onset diabetes, she said.The last time she was on campus was for a 100th birthday party for the school last year. Lots of fun she said to watch each class year of students perform dances for each of the decades the school had been in operation. Ragtime, the Charleston, Swing, Jitterbug... Dance will be part of the "fitness" bit for the new gym.
In Alice's day at the school, there were several big events P.E.-wise. The original gym was torn down - a beautiful old shingled building with upper story sun decks and spots, but lots of splinters on the locker room benches. Then for almost a year, the Old Orchard House served as a locker room and rain or shine, they did sports outdoors without a gym. Around that time, field hockey was prohibited at the school thanks to too many shin injuries. Alice liked to be a goalie for field hockey during P.E. class since the goalie got to wear big shin pads. Flag football replaced field hockey for a few years. Yes, Alice learned how to body block.... and decided football was not her favorite physical activity.
She was there when the "new" gym opened in the 1970's. It had a lot of rough cut stone blocks on the walls outside. The locker rooms had lots of showers and everything was clean and new. Alice spent most of her time there in the gymnastics studio on the vault and balance beam. Like me.... sports involving balls.... just are not of interest. Music or sounds of nature, not squeaky shoes and echoing yells or screams, suit us best.
This new gym has two floors of basketball and volleyball courts. Those seem to be the popular sports nowadays. I wonder if in 100 years they will still be as popular?
Well.... speaking for Alice and myself we could see the current students were quite excited about this new gym. Mr. Ely who was there the last time a gym was opened looked a bit sad to Alice as she walked by him. He'd worked so hard to get the second gym built. Cathy Friedman who helped open the new-new gym today and who was a student leader for the opening of the last new gym seemed happy - but perhaps wistfull, too? She was a student athlete in the vanguard of the Title IX changes for ladies' athletics. I suppose she must have been thinking "What if?" she and her classmates had that new-new gym and the opportunties it gives to girls nowadays.
Alice remembers missing the old shingled gym very much when the cinderblock one opened. It seemed brutal. Hard. Cold. Dismissive of the past.
The new one feels like something from the 21st Century. Modern lines - yet with graceful nods to the past. All those new shingles. Big glass windows framing a lounge area with comfy chairs the students will fight over on rainy or hot days.Alice liked the floors with their colorful logos and looked at the empty walls in the lobby and stairwells which will likely soon be filled with art chosen by the students and trustees. Can't say I liked those floors at all: much too slippery for my furry dog feet. No grip at all! Like trying to walk on waxed slick hardwood floors. The basketball courts I did not want to go near - even slicker! (And besides, no scratchy dog nails or human street shoes allowed there!)
But, isn't change fun? And, aren't ceremonies great? Makes one think of the past, present and future all at the same time.