Today when I pulled up to the school there were lots of cars parked by the auditorium. I went inside to find about twenty senior citizens, all former Murphey School students. A free-lance writer had invited them for a tour as part of a Chapel Hill Herald story he was doing on the building.
They had a blast and so did I. I learned that the school had served first through seventh grades, with about forty children and two grades per class. They named the teachers who taught in each class when they were students. Mrs. Walker had second and third graders in mine. I found out that what we are using as the library and front office was used as exactly that. One elderly lady told of throwing a snowball and hitting a teacher by mistake, incurring her wrath. A man told about lunches at the school. Murphey School was one of the first schools in the county that had a cafeteria and served food. In other schools, students brought their lunches just as our students will. During the Great Depression, he told me, lunches were a nickel and students had their choice of vegetable soup or a plate lunch. More than once he tied a chicken’s legs together, stuck it in a sack with its head hanging out through a hole in the bag, and took it to school on the school bus. He then delivered it to the cafeteria staff, who would kill it, pluck it, and serve it as chicken and dumplings the next day.
One woman had brought a picture of students in her day standing in front of the building. They stood on the steps as the photographer recreated the picture. All of them seemed so happy that there would be children in the building again.
It seems very New Age to talk about what great energy this building has. But it feels so strong and safe, a place where success will happen. The teachers feel it, the kids feel it, and everyone who walks in feels it. It’s a place that has been loved a long time. The Carolina Chocolate Drops shot a music video there this weekend. Apparently they felt it too.
JRA will have an open house on Saturday, August 28, 2010, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Come visit and feel for yourself!