This was Gomer Elementary. Back in May of 1983 I was hired to teach kindergarten half day, title 1 reading the other half. By the time school started, I was doing reading all day with 1st and 2nd graders. It was my first full time job, and I was the youngest teacher in the building. For years! The primary teachers, K-3, became my mentors, my friends, my school family. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin my career, to grow into adulthood.
When I got an interview at Gomer, I was single. I’d never heard of Gomer Elementary. Really! But I learned where it was! I drove there 183 days a year from 1983-1999. That’s 2880 round trips…I did the math! Gomer is in Allen County, northwest of Lima, Ohio, southwest of Toledo It’s on old 30, Old Lincoln Highway. Back in 1914 when it was built, it was the main east/west highway across the USA.
This picture shows the oldest part of Gomer. In 1914 the building was brand-new, and it was named the Sugar Creek Township High School. That’s when seven tiny schools came together to make a new, larger one. As time passed the name changed to Gomer. The last superintendent was Ed Sandy. In 1969 Gomer became part of Elida Schools, and Ed became Elida's new assistant superintendent. When I arrived in 1983, he was still there, still involved with Gomer.
Find the power lines in the picture and follow them to the tallest tree. My first classroom was behind that tree, on the top floor. The room felt like it was carved out of an attic, just big enough for me, 5 students, a table, and a few cupboards. That was my school home till 1986. Every half hour, I would lead my group from the 3rd floor, down the stairs, through a long hallway, from the oldest part of the building to the newest section that was built in 1981. I’d drop off my group, pick a new one, and repeat. I worked with 5 students at a time for 30 minutes. It was a great job, but I wanted my own classroom. I wanted to teach more than just reading.
Do you see the section of the building that’s 3 stories high? The bottom set of windows was mine. I moved in and into second grade in 1986. By that time, I was married and was expecting my first baby. It was quite a year!
The best part of my room was the view, the parking lot. My students were never distracted, all they could see were tires.
Look at the picture again. Do you see the main doors? To the right was the office. That’s where I had my interview back in 1983.
The picture above was another view of the parking lot. The section sticking out was the library. It’s where I ate lunch with my school family for 16 years, 2880 days. Gomer was home!
The picture beside it was the playground and the middle section of the building. I’m not sure when it was built, but long after 1914. Do you see the last set of windows? I moved in across the hall from them, but I’m not sure when. I had my 2nd son in 1989, my daughter in 1992. I wasn’t pregnant, so 1990 is a good guess. In the late 80’s and 90’s I measured time by my kids. In 1990 my boys were 3 and 1. They kept me busy!
I spent 9 years in that classroom. It was my favorite because it was HUGE! Perfect for teaching, and for indoor recess! The rooms down the hall were new, but tiny. I'll take big and old every time.
This was the Gomer Gym where my kids went for PE, assemblies, and programs. Every year for 13 years I brought my kids here for Christmas program practice and performances. It was the most wonderful time of year!
In May 1999 I left Gomer. Elida consolidated buildings and sent grades K-3, and me, into Elida. Grades 4-5 stayed out at Gomer. I heard Gomer was heaven. It made me wonder where I'd gone, no LOL! When the intermediate grades returned to Elida 2 years later, I heard that 4th/5th graders were sobbing. OK, they were girls, but they were crying, about leaving. That's when Kindergarten was sent to Gomer, and once more I heard Gomer was heaven. It was!
Gomer almost hit the century mark. It closed 2 years early, in May of 2012, at 98 years old. So sad.
This was my last trip to Gomer. I was there for a staff reunion in 2013 or 2014. I don’t remember when, but I remember empty rooms and hallways where there once was so much life, my life. It was so sad, and so happy. I saw many of the people who helped me grow from single to married to mother of 3. They mentored me, became my family. A few became new Facebook friends. There’s no place like home!
I drove out through the alley that ran beside the playground one last time. Gomer was beautiful, with old trees and a perfectly groomed baseball diamond, Ed Sandy Field. Ed loved that diamond so much that kids had to ask permission to chase down their recess balls. Really!
In my memory I can see my 2nd graders jogging down that alley singing a marine chant that Gomer kids who were as good as gold. They loved our gym teacher, a former Marine and avid bodybuilder. There really was no place like Gomer!
This is what my playground looked like before demolition. It's where I did recess duty for 16 years, but the equipment was already gone. The picture beside it is the beginning of the end. The trees are down, and so is the building behind it.
Demolition on Gomer Elementary started July 25, 2018. This is what it looked like that day. A day later I took some German kids on a tour of Wapak’s Courthouse, but it was renovated, even though it’s over 100, That’s young compared to buildings in Germany. It’s sad that it’s cheaper to tear down old buildings and build new ones, than it is to renovate them, but…it’s the American way.
So Goodbye Gomer. Thank you for 16 great years, for the friends I made, the kids I taught, and for being a place my own children loved to visit. There was no place like Gomer. I'll buy a brick or two to help me remember my Gomer family and friends.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!