2018-05-24 / News

Generations of memories walk the halls of Mary Crapo

BY RYAN HICKS
View Newspapers correspondent


Swartz Creek resident Steve Shumaker studies one of the exhibits during the open house at Mary Crapo. 
Photos by Ryan Hicks Swartz Creek resident Steve Shumaker studies one of the exhibits during the open house at Mary Crapo. Photos by Ryan Hicks SWARTZ CREEK – “Happy sad.”

That was what nearly everyone said when asked how they felt about Mary Crapo closing.

That was the look on the faces while people sifted through the photos the Historical Society had on display. That was the feel from the posture of the folks who walked past the lockers, into the gym and stage area, through the cafeteria.

Tom Holmquist was standing in the middle of a classroom, reminiscing about being in 5th grade with Mrs. Delaney.

“I sat right here,” he said, finding his bearings the right distance from the board and the windows. “And you can see where they moved the pencil sharpener up further on the walls since so long ago.”

He pointed toward a wall where weathered sets of screws held the metal housing in place. “For shorter kids back then, you know,” he said.


Thanks for the memories … event organizers put considerable effort into setting up displays of old photographs and artifacts. Thanks for the memories … event organizers put considerable effort into setting up displays of old photographs and artifacts. Len Thomas, the past president of the Historical Society, was in the room as well. He was guiding people on, letting them ask questions, sharing stories of his own.

He was ecstatic that the Swartz Creek Community Schools allowed the Historical Society to move into a room at Mary Crapo, only to find out a few days later that the building would be closing.

Now, Historical Society members wonder where they’ll go next. Thomas said he’s certain it will be somewhere else in the school district so folks can always stop by and view the past through the lens of the present.

(For those who want more information about Mary Crapo’s history, the Historical Society Room will be open from 6-8 p.m. May 30. Visitors may look again at the photos and other historical materials.)

The room with the historical display was the busiest during the open house sponsored by Swartz Creek Center Stage on May 20. Dozens of people walked through and looked at iconic photos: sports teams, marching bands, yearbooks, maps - everything laid out to give a full tour of the history of Swartz Creek, and the history of Mary Crapo within that framework.

The people reminisced, shared stories and, sometimes in hushed tones, speculated about what the future may hold for the old building. There were snippets of “wrecking ball,” and “assisted living facility.”

But there are no plans set in stone. The only sure thing is that everyone and everything will be out of the building in a few months at the latest.

In the gym, close to the stage, Center Stage founder and open house organizer Katie Thompson displayed pieces of the community theater troupe’s history.

Play programs and photos were displayed behind glass. T-shirts from performances past were on the stage, where a solo trumpet player performed.

“Were you in a play?” Katie asked this reporter.

“I was the King of Hearts in the production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in 1980-something, when I was, I don’t know, five or six,” I responded.

She looked at me; I am 30 years older than she would have seen me last.

“Oh, you were in the original one then…”

Everyone who walked through stopped to talk to Thompson, and she told her stories and reminisced with the generations of Swartz Creek residents whose narratives she has helped to create over the years.

A man in a business suit walked back and forth upstairs in a dark hallway.

“And the principal’s office was right over there,” he said, entirely to himself, reliving something specific.

There are questions about what’s going to happen to the programs that are still a part of Mary Crapo. Adult Education. Swartz Creek Academy. Childcare. Classrooms of various types.

And the answer is that they will adapt and overcome. There’s room in Swartz Creek to move education around. There’s room to create new memories. But the people who came up through this particular building since it was built back in 1928 will mourn its loss even while they remember the good times, in their own happy sad way, as time marches on.

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