The old, red brick building that was High Bridge High School. I went to school there from kindergarten through 4th grade (1960-1965). I can still vividly picture in my mind all the classrooms, the hallways, the gym.
Behind the school was a big asphalt playground, with swings, slide, jungle gym and a full-court basketball court. My favorite place in the universe.
We had noon recess at the playground. And that was always wild — hundreds of kids running around screaming and laughing, playing in the sandbox, soaring on the swings. Usually there’d be a big kickball game going. I still remember the time this one kid kicked the kickball 50 feet in the air and it went right into the basketball basket. A perfect swish. A one-in-a-million shot. We were all stunned by that one.
I remember another kickball game in the 4th grade. Herby Cole got into an altercation with this tough kid at 2nd base. And the tough kid punched Herby in the mouth and knocked Herby’s front teeth out (the tough kid was wearing a big metal ring which I guess was like a brass knuckle). I remember I had to meet with the principal in a back room with Herby and the tough kid. We sat at this big table and gave our accounts of the incident (I was an eye witness). The tough kid ended up getting suspended and I don’t remember seeing him ever again.
Beyond the playground was the railroad tracks. And on the other side of the tracks was my house. I could see the b-ball court from my backyard. So I always knew if there was any action going on. I had a big gang of kids that I ran with back then. Lester and Buddy and Hoffy. And they’d usually be there.
I moved away from High Bridge after the 6th grade in 1968. When I graduated from high school in 1974 the first thing I did that summer was hitch-hike back to High Bridge. And the first place I went to was that great playground of my youth. I was surprised, and disappointed, that I didn’t recognize any of the kids that were playing at the basketball court. It was a whole new gang of kids. For some reason I half-expected that Lester and Buddy and Hoffy would still be playing there. Which was stupid of me. But there you go.