October 2007 Linn County Leader Column – “Ol’ BHS”

The halls of that majestic three story structure on North Main Street in Brookfield have been vacant for many years now (since 1989); the passage of time and inclement conditions have weathered that structure to the point of being an eyesore to many. Windows have fallen in and others are hanging at the precipice of ruin. Yet, the old Brookfield High School still stands…holding fast with stubborn determination against the elements

I pass by the building every day on my way to work from the farm in Browning. And, every day, I thank God for the opportunity that I had to grow up in Brookfield and attend high school there. Back then, it was a place of shiny waxed floors and painted walls; of the smells of oak wood and creaky old radiators in the wintertime that barely put out enough heat to make classes bearable. It was a place of shrill class time bells and rowdy cafeteria noises; of powdered donuts and Mountain Dew soft drinks purchased at White’s Grocery behind the school.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of memories of four years of my adolescence spent there; a time where I found out who I was as a person…a period in life where I found young love (and a great dance partner) with a teenager named Jeannie, but felt too afraid to ever tell her that I loved her until two decades had went by…a confusing and bitter span of years when I was angry that my parents were divorcing, but too prideful to let my peers know. All in all, it was 1,460 days of happiness, joy, sadness, tears…the whole gamut of human emotion…wrapped up in a shiny neat package that is called the “high school experience”.

Yet, I find it sad that as I pass by this dilapidated building, looming over the northern edge of town, it is almost forgotten now; just a shell of its former self. Discarded and unused; mildewed and musty. A place that needs condemned and torn down, before it falls down on its own and hurts those passing by or those living around the area.

I’ve made several attempts to contact the current owners of the old high school, trying to get them to allow Jeannie and I to go in one last time. It’s more for sentimental reasons that anything else; a chance to take pictures and video the interior for our memories, and for future generations to remember what high school life was like in that place. Just a few snapshots of a simpler, less hectic world where teen angst ruled supreme and adulthood was a mere four years away.

I still hope and pray that one day soon I’ll have another chance to wander the halls of BHS before it is no more. When that structure is demolished in the future, it will be another memory by the wayside, like the Cedar Cinema; or the Lin-Vu drive in, or Frostop, or….you get the picture. As our generation gets older, these things have less and less meaning to our young people, and unless we preserve those memories, they’ll be lost forever.

So, next time you pass by good ol’ Brookfield High School, remember the times that you spent there; and pass those times via pictures and stories to your families, friends, and loved ones.

Until next time, God bless you and yours!

Richard breaks out his yearbooks and shares a laugh about his high school days with his wife and family often. You may reach him via e-mail at sliceofhome@gmail.com or via his blog at sliceofhome.wordpress.com. His column appears monthly in the Leader.

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3 Responses to October 2007 Linn County Leader Column – “Ol’ BHS”

  1. Judy Shelton Brown says:

    Richard,

    You knew me as Rodney Shelton’s Mom back when you were in school. I have since married Lehman Brown (Leisa & Teresa Brown’s Dad) and we retired to Lebanon, MO. I pull up the Linn County Leader on a regular basis and your article on the “old BHS” rang a bell with both my husband and me. He graduated from BHS in 1954 and has always said that was a very well built structure and never should have been abandoned. We thought when the Mundell brothers bought it that they would do something with it but evidently they haven’t. We left Brookfield in 1999 and really don’t go back much as we became involved down here in the Ozark Hills. We love where we are, but do miss all our old friends in the Brookfield area.

    Thanks for writing that column, it was something that needed to be said and I’m sure there are others who agree with you as we do.

  2. Barb says:

    Richard,

    I just got finished reading your article about “Old BHS.” A couple of years ago, my sister and her husband were interested in the lights that were on the front of the old high school. After some search, research and detective work we were able to contact the owners. I was sent the keys to the high school and had the chance to visit the old high school and take pictures. I loved BHS also, but now I wished that I hadn’t visited. Most of the classrooms looked like a war zone. It’s not the BHS you remember. There is so much water damage in the building, it’s hard to describe. Most of the wooden floors look terrible, ,many ceilings have fallen down. I did take some pictures and you are welcome to see them if you would like.

    The auditorium wasn’t too bad, all the seats still there, but many of the windows busted out. There is a definite mildew smell. It’s hard to walk around the halls on the 3rd floor because of all the plaster fallen down. In the old study hall/library, it is down to the brick wall, no plaster left.

    I loved BHS and going to school there. I wish that I had not visited the school now because instead of all the good memories, I now think of about how it looks currently. It is upsetting to see how it has been left to ruin.

    I think that **** has a key to the building. He mows the lawn. I don’t know if he would let you in, like I said, it’s really a shame and a nightmare. You may want to hang on to all the memories of BHS as you knew and loved it.

    Barb Buckallew

  3. John Bagley says:

    Hey Richard,
    I enjoyed BHS too. I have a lot of good memories there. I meet my wife and had great time seeing all my friends there. I remember the fun stuff at BHS. The dodgeball ball games we had in the pit. Quency Ewing the Gym couch. Crazy Bill the shop teach.(crazy in a good way) Running the halls to loose weight for wrestling. And oh yea the minni skirts. HUH And yes hanging out at Whites for lunch eating the greasy burgers and drinking flat pop. Seeing freshman getting put into lockers and Sr.s walking around like they owned the world. Huh I just thought of the toilet paper races we would have with the stools that would flush continuously. Man that was funny. People would watch from the class rooms and just laugh as they saw the toilet paper go shooting buyin the halls. Well believe it or not I did do some school work between all that but most of all I miss the not haveing anything to worry about but school. I could go on and on but I would like to hear from some others about their memories. And thanks Barb I don’t think I want to go in to see the mess, just remembering it like it was is good enough for me.

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