The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bryson Bill

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bryson Bill

Author:Bryson, Bill
Language: eng
Format: epub

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid

8: SCHOOL DAYS

In Pasadena, California, student Edward Mulrooney was arrested after he tossed a bomb at his psychology teacher’s house and left a note that said: “If you don’t want your home bombed or your windows shot out, then grade fairly and put your assignments on the board—or is this asking too much?”

Time magazine, April 16, 1956

GREENWOOD, MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, was a wonderful old building, enormous to a small child, like a castle made of brick. Built in 1901, it stood off Grand Avenue at the far end of a street of outstandingly vast and elegant homes. The whole neighborhood smelled lushly of old money. Stepping into Greenwood for the first time was both the scariest and most exciting event of the first five years of my life. The front doors appeared to be about twenty times taller than normal doors, and everything inside was built to a similar imposing scale, including the teachers. Everything about it was intimidating and thrilling at once. It was, I believe, the handsomest elementary school I have ever seen. Nearly everything in it—the cool ceramic water fountains, the polished corridors, the cloakrooms with their neatly spaced ancient coat hooks, the giant clanking radiators with their intricate embossed patterns like iron veins, the glass-​fronted cupboards, everything—had an agreeable creak of solid, classy, utilitarian venerability. This was a building made by craftsmen at a time when quality counted, and generations of devoted childhood learning suffused the air. If I hadn’t had to spend so much of my time vaporizing teachers I would have adored the place. Still, I was very fond of the building. One of the glories of life in that ancient lost world of the mid-​twentieth century was that facilities designed for kids often were just smaller versions of things in the adult world. You can’t imagine how much more splendid this made them. Our Little League baseball field, for instance, was a proper ballpark, with a grandstand, concession stand and press box, and real dugouts that were, as the name demands, partly subterranean (and never mind that they filled with puddles after every rain and that the shorter players couldn’t see over the edge and so tended to cheer at the wrong moments). When you ran up those three sagging steps and out onto the field you could seriously imagine that you were in Yankee Stadium. Superior infrastructure makes for richer fantasies, believe me. Greenwood contained all that in spades. It had, for one thing, an auditorium that was just like a real theater, with a stage with curtains and spotlights and dressing rooms behind. So however bad your school productions were—and ours were always extremely bad, partly because we had no talent and partly because Mrs. De Voto, the music teacher, was a bit ancient and often nodded off at the piano—it felt like you were part of a well-​ordered professional undertaking (even when you were standing there holding a long note waiting for Mrs.



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