Burbank Elementary School of my youth is gone. Sure there's a new Burbank School built over the Little Side and old Hunts cannery site. No doubt it has all the modern conveniences: computers, thermostats, water-saving toilets, ergonomic chairs and desk, OSHA approved play yard and no chain link fence.
Gone is the cafeteria and pigs in a blanket.
Gone is the principal’s office and the fear of the paddle.
Gone is the auditorium stage and the plays where nobody knew their lines.
Gone is the classrooms and the globe lamps shaped like the planet Saturn.
Gone is the tether ball and the smack of little fists.
Gone is the mighty oak tree, roots pulled, and branches long since chopped, leaves shredded and trunk smoldered in asphalt.
Gone is the grass of the infield and the thumps of kickball.
Gone is the fence clanking, although the chain-link surrounds the property like a forbidden grave.
Gone is the line of pine trees and their soft pile of needles.
Gone is the red rubber balls and the sting of dodge ball.
Gone is the afterschool snow cone sales and the cherry, lemon and cocoanut flavors.
Gone is the shouts of Kindergarteners, the questions of third graders and the insolence of sixth graders.
Gone is the line of cars waiting for their kids.
Gone is the crossing guard in his yellow vest and red sign.
Gone is the shrill bell and end of recess.
Gone is the teachers: Ms. Meanes – lovely Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Olson – white hair and glasses, Ms. Nakakawa – I wonder if was Interned during the war, Ms. McMasters – she didn’t wear a bra; Mr. Heath – taught me to ride a bike.
Gone are George – King of the School, Joey – George’s best friend, Douggie – great imitator of Yogi Bear, Manuel – hit me in the chest for no reason and got mad at me for refusing his punches, Ramon – the only boy to challenge George for King of the School title, bloody fight was a draw, but they were still good friends, Michael – Violent Kid of the School with obssessive hatred for Ramon, Georgina – O’ be still my beating heart, Linda – the only girl worthy of the King of the School, Dwanise– fell in love with Ramon after a wrestling match and Sam – chubby kid and avowed girl-hater.