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Rediscovering a hidden local gem

Jul 25, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

If you knew what you were looking for, there were clues.

What was visible were the old copiers, fax machines and the old chairs and boxes packed full of excess items from all of Riverton's schools.

And the ceiling looks different today, not unlike any drop ceiling with 2-foot by 4-foot acoustic tiles that you see all over town.

We were in a warehouse, after all.

Missing from the ceiling is the danger sign and the foam pads we would use to push off with our hands or our feet.

The lights inside now span both sides of the long, narrow room, and the duct work on the east side looks shiny and new.

I don't recall the room being bright, but it is now.

The floor is certainly more stout and expansive, now made out of sturdy plywood, with engineered beams below functioning just as they were designed.

In fact, there didn't used to be a floor at all.

Solid shelves now contain dozens and dozens of boxes, also packed full of stuff not readily needed for the new school year that is now just a few short weeks away.

Even though this is a Riverton school building, kids don't come here anymore.

Forty summers ago, the place had kids everywhere, every day.

There are more clues.

Stenciled numbers can be seen on a slab of cement that spans most of the length of the room and sits between that solid floor and blue tile, which, I now recall, also is a clue.

There is a 3 and a 5 and a 6 and an 8. That's as high as the numbers go, but those numbers are just as I remember.

And what is that ladder? I went up and down that very ladder thousands of times when I was a kid through my senior year in high school.

You can only see most of the top of the ladder today though. At floor level, it's almost swallowed up by that strong wooden floor.

There is a small opening near the ladder and and when I stuck my phone down into the dark expanse below and snapped a picture, another clue appeared.

It looked like the letter "T" was painted on the floor eight feet below, but I knew that the long tail of that "T" actually extended another twenty or so yards to the north. At the other end, I'm sure it looked the same, like another "T".

My brother, in town for his class reunion, and I asked to see the old four-lane, painted cement, 25-yard Riverton High School swimming pool a couple of weeks ago.

I closed my eyes for a moment. I wanted to hear Mrs. Gamble and Mrs. Tonkin teaching me how to swim.

From Red Cross swim lessons that saw us progress from first-year beginners to senior lifesavers, to the nights when the late Eric Hansen, our AAU swim coach, taught us what it meant to compete, thorough our four years on the RHS swim team, that pool, now a warehouse, was our second home.

"Breathe, bloooooooow," Mrs. Gamble and Mrs. Tonkin would say.

Let's go," Coach Hansen would yell.

It was nice to hear them again.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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2017-09-19