We go to Madison School, and it’s a short, quiet walk to the schoolyard. That’s another thing Mommy is really happy about. She gloats on the phone with her friends, telling them how she doesn’t have to worry about what Kathy, Mary Ruth and I are up to on our way to and from school.
I loved our walk to Darwin School in the city, so I’m not that keen on the school being so close. Kathy, Mary Ruth and I would walk down big, wide streets with storefronts full of new and used washers and dryers, televisions, radios, as well as the giant-sized boxes they were packed in, hats and ties, jewelry and handbags, fancy dresses—all kinds of interesting things. And people would see us walking together and smile. One old woman with twinkling blue eyes used to tell us we looked like three little steps when we lined up in a row in front of her. The best part of the walk for me though was seeing the parachute jump ride from Riverview amusement park sticking way high up into the sky. Every day even in the middle of winter when the park was closed, it was this grand reminder of a world of fast rides and a house of horrors, and games, and ducks to feed in the little lake right in the middle of the excitement. Mommy says we can still go to Riverview once a year in the summer. But it’s not the same when you can’t see the parachute ride every day.
A good thing about being so near our school is that Mommy lets Kathy, Mary Ruth and me walk there sometimes to play on the playground when school’s not in session. There are swings and a jungle gym and a merry-go-round type of thing. It’s round and spins, and you can climb on it. You can either push off the ground with your feet while you’re going around or you can take hold of one of the handles and run around and build up speed and then jump on. Oooh wee, does that ever put the butterflies in your stomach!
All of the playground equipment at Madison School is on grass that is silky soft, except for where it’s worn to dirt in some spots. That’s probably nicer than the paved playgrounds at Darwin School. It’s fun to get going as high as you can on a swing and then jump off, fly through the air and land on the grass way far out from the swings. We keep pumping harder to get higher than we ever have and then jump farther and farther. Landing in the grass makes this not very risky at all. I’d be more careful if I were jumping onto blacktop or gravel. Gravel would be the worst. So I guess the grass all around is another thing to like about this place.
Madison School is smaller than Darwin. It only goes through fifth grade, and Darwin goes all the way through eighth. Madison is just two floors in the shape of maybe three giant alphabet blocks stuck together. But it’s a pretty building made out of red brick with lots of white trim. It’s set way back at an angle at the corner where Sixth and Madison streets come together. There’s a really wide, long sidewalk leading to the huge double doors in front. There are doors like that at the ends on either side too. Daddy says it’s colonial style just like the building downtown that has the library on one end and the village hall on the other. That building is at the top of a hill, and from the library windows you can see the train station right below. A lot of buildings downtown are in this colonial style. Daddy says it’s one of the things that sets Hinsdale apart, the rules that so many buildings have to be like famous buildings back east somewhere.
“It gives the community some charm, like some thought went into it,” he says, “not like some of these other suburbs that let people slap things together any old way.”
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