I heard that the old Central High School gymnasium was as dead as the War of 1812, but I wanted to see it myself. When I pulled up, I saw that the demolition area was surrounded by a fence.
I looked around to see if there was anyone I could ask to let me onto the site, but there was nobody around. Then, it dawned on me: if there is nobody around to GIVE me permission, then there’s also nobody around to tell me “No.” There were no “Posted” signs, so I walked along the fence until I came to the end of it where it was about three feet shy of touching the building. Noting that the space was large enough even for me, and seeing the dirt trampled down, I calculated that I wasn’t going to be the first person to use that entrance.
Not much to say about it
I mentioned in my last gym post that I didn’t have particularly good memories about physical education and the gym. I usually pick up a brick as a keepsake when I shoot an old building being torn down, but there wasn’t that much I wanted to remember about the place, so I passed.
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. One thing that DID catch my eye in the debris: there was a lone black toilet seat in one spot, and a white one several yards away. I wonder why the restrooms would have different color seats?
David Hente: “I started here in 1956. Fall. I’ll never forget the first day I walked through that door. This place was immaculate. There was a smell of varnish. The gym was only two years old at that time anyway, and every summer they came in here and redid the floors.
“When I worked at the paper, I was out here a lot for various functions, and, just for the fun of it, I always make sure to go down to the gym, walk in and just take a whiff. As soon as you’d walk in that door… and if they were still using it, you could get over by the dressing room and get that smell of water and whatever….”
More pictures later
I promised you pictures of the public’s last glimpse of the old gym, but I need more time to edit the photos and go through my notes. I’ll give you this quote from David Hente about walking through the door behind him on his first day as a freshman as a placeholder. I’ll post the rest later.
By the way, you can click on David to make the photo larger.
I had forgotten I had taken more photos in the gym when I wandered the halls in 2009. I was impressed then with how well the overall building and the gym had held up since it was built in 1955. Maybe its defects are hidden.
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images.
The countdown has started for the gym we old Central High School students remember. The Missourian reported that the 84-by-50-foot gym, built in 1955, will be replaced by administrative offices and other features sometime in March.
The public is invited to see the gym one last time on Saturday, January 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I guess it won’t matter if we walk across the polished floor in our street shoes this time.
Here is a collection of stories I’ve done where the gym was featured.
Kid Adam looked at this picture and commented, “Did dark socks not exist in that time frame?” The post has several random CHS photos in it. (Click on the photos to make them larger. Click on the links to go to the original story and more pictures.)
Students gathered around a TV hastily pulled into the gym so they could hear details about the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. Our Age of Innocence was over, and it was only going to get worse.
Locker rooms, real and imagined
I envisioned my female counterparts being ushered into individual cleansing facilities where there would be soft music playing, the water would come out at the perfect temperature, towels wouldn’t be needed because each compartment would be equipped with air-drying fans and there would be a gentle spritzing of the perfume of the girl’s choice on the way out. Attendants, probably freshmen, would take care of nail and hair maintenance and see that clothing was restored with nary a muss.
The September 21, 1967, Missourian listed the 1967 Girardot Queen court: Miss Mary Hirsch, center, daughter ofMr. and Mrs. Ralph Hirsch, 1855 Thilenius, was crowned Central High SchoolGirardotQueen at ceremonies last Friday in the school gymnasium. Her attendants are, from left,Miss Holly Lueders, daughter ofMr. and Mrs. Paul Lueders, 1115 North Henderson;Miss Jane Dunklin, daughter ofMr. and Mrs. Maurice T. Dunklin, 839 Alta Vista;Miss Georganne Penzel, daughter ofMr. and Mrs. George Penzel, 1844 Thilenius, andMiss Debby Holland, daughter of theRev. and Mrs. W.T. Holland, 2221 Brookwood.
Principal Dallas Albers, an inveterate suspenders-wearer, noticed Sylvester Johnson admiring the pants-holder-uppers at an assembly one day, so he made a “deal” with him: if the team won the homecoming game with Sikeston, Syl wouldn’t have to worry about his pants falling down at the dance – they would be securely held up by the coveted suspenders.
This pep rally made me think of the TV series Friday Night Lights.
Looking for contact lens
I’m pretty sure this was the first game I covered that involved a lost contact lens. Follow the link to check out the pep band in their tiger-stripe jackets.
After taking several outside shots, we moved the 1965 Majorettes indoors to the gym.
1970 aerial shows new gym being built
This aerial view of Central High School from the early 1970s is looking from the southeast corner roughly to the northwest. Caruthers Ave. is running along the right side of the photo. The new gym is under construction and the swimming pool with its bubble hasn’t been started. The post also has more recent aerials of the school.
World’s ugliest cheerleaders
I’ve shot scads of cheerleaders at high school, college and pro games. Every organization must have used different qualifications. Some girls were picked for looks; some for popularity; other for spirit; others for athletic or dancing ability; others must have been daughters of community movers and shakers. This group must have been selected for having the hairiest legs.
I remember Anne Buchanan
One of the pictures I found of Anne Buchanan was with the other cheerleaders collecting for the March of Dimes in 1963. She’s on the right.