Traverse City Record-Eagle

Columns

September 10, 2012

School bell silent reminder of earlier education

Recently I was given the bell to the old Creswell Country School.

It now rests on a shelf above my desk with the muzzle loader I shot when I was ten, and grandma's ceramic elf perched on a green log. The bell is usually quiet. All the little kids it called in from recess have grown old or passed on.

Sixty-some years ago the owners moved the one-room school to the other side of the road. They renamed Creswell Road. They cut the wooden floor out of the back half of the building and turned it into a farm repair shop and tractor garage.

The aging John Deere tractor I built Stone Circle with is now parked there. The front half is used for storage.

Golfers headed down McLachlan Road to A-Ga-Ming pass right by Creswell School. They don't remember the fairways they'll play on were once woods, fields and pastures children crossed to answer the bell's call.

Old school buildings dot the countryside like shrines to an earlier and very different age. A couple miles northeast of my hometown stand some cement steps on the edge of a field. Gormer School has disappeared. The steps look like a surreal gateway into another time.

Maybe some starlit night I'll visit Creswell School with the bell. I'll stand on the crumbling steps under the sparkling dark and ring it, and see what happens.

Bruce McLachlan

We lived ten miles north of Elk Rapids.

Creswell School

was right on the southeast corner

of U.S. 31.

I went to that school through seventh grade.

Dad went to Creswell School

and grandma went there.

Three generations.

Then they closed it,

and I came to Elk Rapids.

When I was a youngster

dad was clearing land

behind the Creswell School

for our sweet cherry and apple orchards.

I can remember the stumps.

To get the stumps out in a hurry

dad was good with dynamite.

He had to be careful

with us kids coming and going

to and from school.

Boom!

Pretty quick things would start dropping.

Rocks would fall out of the sky.

It's surprising how far a rock will fly

before it falls down.

They usually did dynamiting

on Saturdays and Sundays

because it was too dangerous.

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