Now, a new and grand building, dedicated to the worship of God, is to be built on the site of the old school. Once again these noble old trees can add beauty and grace (and a bit of the past) to the entry to a beautiful architectural structure.The trees are old now (like a lot of us), but they have a few good years left. I pray that their value and meaning will be recognized and that they will be allowed to continue to shelter squirrels and birds and provide shade for children and old people. As the poet said, and the teachers of LHS taught us, “Only God can make a tree.”
Thursday, June 13, 2013
THE TIGER OAKS OF LOGANSPORT HIGH SCHOOL
It is June of 1948, and I am 8 years old and scared and excited. Our family has come to Logansport for the first time. My Daddy (age 37) has brought my brother Jacky (age 5) and I to see the school where he will be Principal. In my mind’s eye, I can see the three of us standing there under those two big oak trees, looking up at the entrance to the school. It is the biggest building I have ever seen, standing almost 3 stories (above-ground basement, first and second floors). It looks huge but beautiful. We walk down the walk and up the big stairs. On the second floor, across from Daddy’s office, we enter a classroom, and I stand on a chair to look out the window. I am looking out on the upper branches of the big oaks, and I think – “Oh my, we are as high as the trees.”
I learned to ride my first bike on the sidewalk in front of those oaks, and in winter when it snowed, we built a big snowman in the open area where the dark leafless limbs cast their shadows. When we took class pictures, we stood on those steps, and looked out at the oaks. Every day during the school semester, parents waited under those trees for their children to emerge. In the summer, the snow-cone man would stop his truck in front of the trees and all the children from the neighborhood would congregate; and after he left, we would eat our sweet ice while sitting on the roots of the big oaks. When students misbehaved, Mr. Jackson made them clean up the school grounds, and they all tried to clean the shaded area under the big oaks.
We made all kinds of pictures using those oaks as our backdrop. The cheerleaders posed there and the majorettes. Our championship girls’ basketball team took pictures in our uniforms standing with arms across our teammates shoulders. I have a picture standing between the trees wearing my graduation gown, and a picture in the same spot three years later wearing my wedding gown.
Those trees were home base when we played tag, and the finish line for our races. One night four of us sat under one of those trees crying our hearts out because we lost the final game in the parish tournament by one point. On a fall night, after a football game, you could see the moon shinning through the limbs of that oak, and many a kiss was exchanged in the deep shadows.
This photo, published on May 8, 1932, was taken after the dedication of the new school building, and shows the two oaks as young saplings carefully planted and supported. According to the accompanying story, the trees were dedicated to the memory of the Logansport men who died in WWI. Ninety years later, those oak trees still stand, the only memorial to the Logansport veterans of the First World War. For 67 years, those trees flanked the entry to LHS. That grand old school building has been gone for twenty-three years, but the oaks remain to remind us of what once was and is no more.