StoryRhyme After Dark: The Briarcliff Boys School

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The Briarcliff Boys School
By Harry Buschman


We spent a great deal of time talking about it. Long before the war came we talked about it ... at teacher's meetings ... with the boys in class and after school. We thought of little else. There was nothing else.

You’d think after all these years the memory of those days would dim a little. 

But no! I can still see the school corridor stretching from the top of the stair all the way down to the Dean’s office at the end of the building. Windows on one side and the heavy oak doors to the classrooms on the other. 

We left the windows open that spring to let the air in after the dark cold winter, and the weak sunshine filtered in through the casements. The heavy blue winter drapes had been sent out for cleaning and in their place the short cotton curtains with the Croix de Guerre emblem were hung at the windows that looked out on the playing fields. They were still creased from being stored all winter and they trembled in the cool afternoon breeze.

I can still hear the bored voices of the teachers and students filtering through the heavy classroom doors that lined the corridor wall. There were things to do and games to play after school on this early spring afternoon and both the faculty and the student body were impatient for the four o’clock bell. When it finally rang, all the doors burst open at once and there was a babble of young voices and the corridor floor trembled with the impact of running feet. The Dean opened his office door briefly to see what on earth had happened.

If you were unlucky enough to be in the corridor at such times you would back up flat to the wall and hold your breath as the eager boys stampeded by on their way to the playing fields for soccer, track or scrimmage. When it quieted down again, the teachers slowly and tentatively emerged from their classrooms until they were sure all danger had passed. Then they gathered at the windows overlooking the playing field and talked quietly of the war in small sad voices.

I think back on the passing of that time, and the yearly cycle of renewal that turned our children into soldiers and soldiers into dust. The cycle of seasons that opened the casement windows to let in the spring sun and rang the four o’clock bell.

(c) 2015 Harry Buschman
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