Sunday, July 7, 2019

You CAN Go Home Again - You Never Left

I was born in Union City, New Jersey. Within months of my birth (I am told) we moved to Cedar Grove, New Jersey. We moved from "the city" to "the country" as that is what Cedar Grove was back in the day.

Here in the USA, the sixth grade is the sixth school year after kindergarten. Students in the sixth grade are usually either 11 or 12, though could be younger or older, if they are promoted (skip grades) or held back for not reaching a standard.

After a fire, the new Pompton Avenue School opened in April of 1961. Leonard R. Parks, who began his career in Cedar Grove as a manual training teacher, became the principal of Pompton Avenue School and eventually the district's first Superintendent of Schools. He retired in 1965 and the school was renamed in his honor.

When you are a kid, you were taught to memorize your phone number, your address, and where you went to school. 

My first phone number:  201-239-0213.
My first address: 45 Bowden Road, Cedar Grove, New Jersey.
My first school: Leonard R. Parks.

Because of a fire, my first school in the '60s was BRAND SPANKIN' NEW. And, we had a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW Public Library in town, too. Everything was state-of-the-art. It was a big deal.

6th grade was my last year of school in Cedar Grove. We moved to Boca Raton, Florida where I would enjoy my "Wonder Years" on the Intracostal Waterway, and Spanish River Park. But before we moved from New Jersey to Florida, I looked up Boca Raton at the Cedar Grove Public Library.

The city's name comes from boca de ratones, a Spanish term meaning "rat's mouth" that appeared on early maps and referred to hidden sharp-pointed rocks that gnawed or fretted ship's cables.

We are moving from Cedar Grove to some place with RATS???????

I'm not going!

I remember the Librarian at the Cedar Grove library calming me down. The Spanish word boca, or mouth, often describes an inlet, while raton means literally, mouse. 


As in Mickey Mouse. I remember the Librarian and my teachers telling me how lucky I was to be moving to Boca Raton, Florida. Not that far from Orlando. The Magic Kingdom Disney World opened October 1, 1971. I remember asking (begging?) to go to Disney World for my birthday: October 2nd. I remember getting my wish.

Ah yes, my first home was Cedar Grove, New Jersey. And then Boca Raton, Florida. In hindsight, Mom and Dad had it all on lock-down.

Yesterday my wife had a patient in Cedar Grove - and I drove her from Boonton Township, New Jersey (where we now live). I saw the old house. The Library. The School. The playgrounds. Wow, what a time capsule.

You CAN go home again - but everything is so much smaller than you remember it. Thank you Leonard R. Parks Elementary School. Thank you Cedar Grove Public Library. I find it interesting how much of our lives are connected to schools and learning.

Is this where the term "lifelong learning" comes from? The ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Yeah, lifelong learning. It enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development. I don't know if PHYSICAL schools or libraries will even exist in the future - but home is where the lifelong learning will always live.

The back of the house.... 50+ years later

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