Apparently, they decided against making my old elementary school into a shrine

Mrs. Crank's class, Meadowbrook School

Over the weekend, my Mom said she wished she had taken pictures of some of the gazillion places we lived when I was growing up.

I said I’d try to find Google Maps Street View images of the ones still standing.

I had a little trouble finding the place in Norfolk where we lived when I was in the 3rd grade, but eventually prevailed.

I had found it on a previous occasion, and remembered I did it this way: I found my school, and then traced the well-remembered route that I walked home every day. Yes, kids, we did that back in the Dark Ages. We also had more than 30 kids in a classroom, and didn’t know how deprived we were.

But I had trouble finding the school this time. And I couldn’t seem to recall the name of it, either.

But I remembered that my teacher was named “Mrs. Crank.” She was a strikingly beautiful lady — the kind of teacher the Beave would have a crush on in a ’50s sitcom — but had an unfortunate married name. I thought if I could find her, I could maybe find the school she taught at.

I recalled that I had saved my class picture to my Ancestry profile, and that her full name had been on the picture, so I went there, and bingo! Not only did it name her as “Mrs. Elsie Crank,” but named the school as well. Meadowbrook Elementary (talk about sounding like something right out of “Leave it to Beaver”…). I then found a Facebook page for the school, which included the address, and I was home free.

There’s the picture above. I’m the second kid from the left in the back, hiding behind a book and looking miserable while my classmates smiled. I remember it. I was sick with a fever. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Crank sent me home immediately after the picture was taken (but obviously I only missed a few minutes of school, since the clock says 2:20). The only good thing going on here is that, you’ll notice, I’m sitting right next to Mrs. Crank. Way to go, Beave!

So I’m patting myself on the back for having found it detective-style, and I enter the address in Google Maps.Meadowbrook Dog Park

But no school. It had been replaced by… wait for it… a dog park. Meadowbrook Elementary had become Meadowbrook Dog Park. Really.

I mean, I didn’t expect them to turn it into a shrine to my youth or anything, but still…

Anyway, I put that behind me and found the house, which you can see below. I vaguely remembered it. It was a duplex. We lived downstairs, and upstairs was a lady who had a piano located right over my parents’ bedroom. She liked to practice at 10:30 p.m. I don’t remember it, but my Mom does.

I continue to think Google Maps is one of history’s greatest inventions. What’s the most fun you’ve had with it lately?

There's the house -- a bit worse for wear perhaps, but still recognizable.

There’s the house — it’s been almost 60 years, but it’s still recognizable.


11 thoughts on “Apparently, they decided against making my old elementary school into a shrine

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was a smooth operator, as you can tell from my getting a fever just to get next to the teacher.

    I’m remembering another smooth move.

    Mrs. Crank taught me my multiplication tables. I picked them up pretty quickly. But there was this one cute girl in the class (I can’t tell you which one she was after all these years), and she was having trouble, so Mrs. Crank had her stay after for some coaching.

    I piped up and said I could probably use some more practice, too, and she let me stay after with the girl. I thought myself quite the Casanova for pulling that off….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I was a pretty honest little kid, and it was part of my self-concept that I saw myself as someone who didn’t lie. It was important to me.

      But for years, every time I’d start to congratulate myself for my veracity, my conscience would remind me about staying after school that time on false pretenses…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    You’ll also note that integration had not arrived in Norfolk, Va.

    I’d had black friends in my class the year before, in Woodbury, N.J. But not in Norfolk…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      … and I recall one of the white kids in that 2nd-grade class giving me a hard time for being friends with one of the black kids.

      It was my earliest conscious encounter with racism, as near as I can recall. (That’s one of the things about having been in segregated schools in kindergarten and 1st grade — if your world contains only white people, you don’t learn which ones are racist.)

      I forget what the white kid called the black kid (I don’t remember their names, or the names of anyone in that class), but I remember what the black kid called him back: a marshmallow.

      I thought it particularly witty at the time. It was years before it hit me that he probably had not been the first person to think that one up…

  3. Norm Ivey

    I’m glad someone else gets a kick out of Google Maps. I recently made use of it to revisit my past.

    Daddy was in the hospital on this most recent Christmas Eve, and I was sitting with him to keep him company. I was reflecting on past Christmases and a story about Christmas Eve from 1968. I wrote and shared the story on Facebook, and I used Maps to grab a screenshot of the house we lived in at the time.

    I have a couple of favorite games/activities that integrate Maps. GeoGuessr drops you in street view somewhere in the world, and you have to figure out where you are by using context clues. lets you create a personalized timeline of locations and events using Google Maps and integrating your own pictures and text.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’ve played that — GeoGuessr or something just like it.

      And I can generally work it out. My very first try I was dumped somewhere out in the countryside in Scandinavia. And you know, trees just look like trees. But I kept clicking until I got to a town, and then bingo…

      It was fun…

  4. Johnny Jones

    Hi I stumbled upon the posted third grade class picture. The kid sitting directly in front of the teacher is me. The picture was taken in Nov 1961 which would make me six years old. Picture heading notes that we are in the third grade. Very odd since I was six years old at that time. Which would put in the first grade. Do you recall if our class was 1st through 3rd grade? Nevertheless that would make us both relics now. Thanks for the posting. Johnny.

  5. Dale

    I have a new group in FB called “Memories Of Meadowbrook” that I’d love you all to come join! I attended Meadowbrook from 1st grade – 4th grade, 1962 – 1965 when my stepdad retired from the Navy and moved our huge family to a huge house in Va. Beach. I felt SO out of place though. You can take the girl out of Norfolk, but ya can’t take the Norfolk out of the girl!


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