Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Teacher's Lunchroom at Memphis

Some shots of the teacher's lunch room. I'm pretty sure the teacher's lunch room was on the second floor and faced Memphis Avenue. The old Magic Chef stove as photographed inside the lunch room before we pulled it.

The stove was given to me by the last owners of Memphis School in return for some photography work I did. It's amazing to think, in our work offices today, most of us use microwave ovens, back then, everything had to be reheated by stove-top or oven.
The stove looks to be from the late 1940's to 50's. The doorway you see to the right was to the teacher's restroom. The stove is now parked in a corner of our garage. We're getting ready for our daughter's birthday party and clambake tomorrow, and we'll be firing up the old stove for the 3' tall clam pot. It's so much easier to steam clams out in the garage than inside the house!
The old percolator coffee pot was a bonus as I found it stored inside the oven. It brews great coffee! Happy Fall, everybody!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Memphis School Ghost Story

Recently, a few visitors to this blog asked me to retell the 'supernatural' visit I had in our school shortly before it was torn down. I first wrote about this experience of mine in a story that appeared in the February 2010 issue of The Old Brooklyn News. If you haven't seen it, you can find it in this Blogs archives or go to:

So, in the spirit of Halloween, I will share with you one of the scariest moments I had of which occurred during my last visit to Memphis School.

It was an ordinary cool, windy, mid-October evening. I had just finished visiting with my mother who lives around the corner from Memphis and decided to take the 5-minute walk to the school. I remember the sun setting and the sky was a muted orange. The leaves outside the school were whirling in circles and it was pretty close to 6:00 p.m. As many of you know, the school building was, for the most part, accessible. I went in as I did a few times before by slipping into the school through the side doors that faced W. 41st Street.

As soon as I entered the foyer, I immediately heard a loud banging sound of which floated from the depths of the school. It reminded me of someone just banging away on a piece of sheet metal with a steel hammer. I convinced myself it was only a piece of metal flapping in the wind somewhere in the gym below.

There was just enough light coming in from the outside to barely illuminate the stairs and sections of the corridors, but the light dissipated into total darkness by the time it reached the center of the long corridors. The wind outside was blowing so hard that when it entered the school, it created a chorus of sounds that I can't even begin to explain. These sounds came to life as the wind weaved it's way through the classrooms and the corridors. With every window gone and the wind blowing at full speed, Memphis School turned into a monolithic wind chime. It sounded as though every schoolchild's voice and laughter were inexplicably funneled back into the school through some sort of mysterious time warp. 

Then there were the whistling noises. Depending on where the wind was, the whistle would start at one end of the corridor, then finish at the other end and back and forth it would go. Lastly, you can hear running water which found its way trickling down the walls. I was completely mesmerized by all of the sounds. Needless to say, it was an eerie experience. 

Undaunted, as many times before, I started to walk up the stairway at the same time being captivated by what I was hearing. As I approached the second-floor landing, I realized the banging sound had stopped. I found this peculiar since the wind never once died down. As unnerving as this realization was, I kept walking, at this point now, 'tip-toeing' up to the third floor.

Just as soon as I stepped onto the third floor corridor I noticed a bizarre scene at the other end of the corridor, a silhouette (much like in the sample photo above). I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was like 'Jason' out of the 'Friday the 13th' movies. Someone or 'something' was standing at the other end of the corridor with both of it's hands straight up in the air, like a referee signaling a touchdown. Whoever or whatever it was, it didn't move, it remained perfectly still. I myself froze much like a mannequin. My first thought was...what's a grown man like me, with a wife and kids, doing standing in a dark, condemned building?! I realized if I wanted to see my family again, I better get out fast.

I tore down the steps running and jumping two and three steps at-a-time, convinced the freakish shadow was either chasing me or that I would plow into it on my way down.

Of course...I made it out in one piece. Believe me, I was out-of-breath for the rest of the night. I'm quite shocked I didn't trip on my descent. That was my last visit to our old school. As crazy as it sounds, it felt like someone was trying to reach out to me. I'm convinced the sounds I heard were actually 'echos' of memories past. It still gives me the creeps just thinking about it!

Was it a ghost? You tell me!
Happy Halloween!

Memphis School Mystery Solved! Our friend Attila Barandi breaks the case! Date of missing homework is from 1958!!

That's Attila Barandi in the cockpit, flying a OV-1D Mohawk during his service to our country. Attila served our country as a military pilot during Desert Storm. Attila graduated from Memphis School in 1968. Click on this image to enlarge. More photos of Attila and his Mohawk can be seen at:
You can also visit Attila Barandi through his website:

According to there is an Elaine Mary Zychowski living in Cleveland who is 64 years old. That would put her in the 6th grade graduation class of 1959. Since she was in grade 5A (the A and B designations were discontinued in 1967/68 school year--because one of my report cards reflected the change) then it fits the puzzle that she had to have been a 5A student sometime before the 1967/68 school year. Also, I was a student at Memphis up until 1968 and none of the names look familiar, so they weren't students there between 1963-1968 when I was there.
Next time ask something hard!

Thanks for solving this mystery, Attila!

My good friend, Attila, will be receiving a vintage Memphis School textbook and a couple of classroom coat-hooks that will be sent to him, to his hometown of Hungary. Great job Attila!