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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog at sliceofhome.wordpress.com. His column appears monthly in the Leader.