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Columns

December 3, 2012

Chuck's daughter returns to a town full of memories

My daughter Frances, OHS Class of 2000, came home for Thanksgiving last week after not having been in her hometown for nearly five years. I asked her to be my “guest columnist” to share her thoughts about coming home for the holidays. I hope you enjoy her story.

“It was a blue, plaid jumper, a white Peter Pan-collared blouse and a navy cardigan with white embroidered letters. The ladylike cursive spelled out: “St. Mary’s,” and I loved every minute I spent in it.

From kindergarten to 8th grade I spent my days happily cardiganed and knee-socked, learning to tell time, and then spending it writing book reports and diagramming sentences. Having not set foot in the building since I graduated 15 years ago, I always see it like a clock forever stopped when the last bell rung.

But the clock only really stops in your head, and the world moves on.

Upon returning to Oneonta for Thanksgiving week I had no expectations of being able to enter my old school. But fate unexpectedly intervened in the form of a beloved teacher of mine, and my dad.

Mary Ann Hartmann, whom I adored years ago as she introduced us to the then-brave new world of computers, joined my dad in hatching a plan to get me inside the building. And suddenly I was not just looking at the beautiful front doorway, but passing through it, on my way inside.

I braced myself for a shock that never came. For walking up the first flight of stairs, I was walking on the exact same tiles that I had 20 years earlier. The walls wore the exact same carpeting, the lights fitted with the exact same fixtures. It was like walking into a time capsule, buried on my last day of 8th grade.

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