Vol 6 No. 16 - January 11, 2006

AME school auction brings on flood of memories

Above, colorful cubbies were a popular item at Saturday’s auction..
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE

By Cindy Lane
SUN STAFF WRITERS

HOLMES BEACH – Craig Meldahl remembers when his daughter and her friends would swing around the poles up and down the breezeway at Anna Maria Elementary School.

It was 33 years ago, but the memory is as vivid as the colorful cubbies that were auctioned Saturday at the school, which is scheduled to be demolished this month.

Meldahl and his wife, Cathy, from Longboat Key, came to the auction with their daughter, Sheri Bowland, and her husband and four children, who were visiting from Oregon.

" "I remember a limb on a tree we used to hang on," said Bowland, who started kindergarten at the school in 1973. "It’s gone, though."

The pole wasn’t on the auction list, which included everything else from the cafeteria sink to child-sized potties. Meldahl sauntered off to find out whether he could buy one of the poles for old time’s sake.
Maybe it’s the holidays, "auld lang syne" and all.

Whatever it was, the auction drew a great crowd and raise around $9,500, after expenses, for the school to spend on items for its new campus, according to Principal Kathy Hayes.

It was a real reunion for teacher’s aide Judy Arnold, who has worked at the school for nearly 30 years and was patrolling the hallways Saturday morning.

"I remember lots of faces," she said, but the names don’t come easily. That is, until they stop her, calling her by name, and remind her.

"It’s like old home week," she said.

Max Hennig of Anna Maria Island had his eye on a landscaping brick. Not all of them, like another prospective buyer who wanted to use them to pave his driveway. Just one, as a memento.

His son, Jules, 5, is in kindergarten at the school. He got a ruler, but had his sights set higher – on the pirate jungle gym in the playground.

Robert Hicks, 50, attended Anna Maria Elementary School four decades ago. He bought a water fountain, not because of any fond memories – it just seemed like a good way for his son, Dalton, and his friends to get a quick drink while they’re playing outside without having to come in the house. He also said he was planning to buy some chairs and tables to donate to a pre-school.

Auctioneer and pied piper Mike Holzman led dozens of bidders up and down the breezeways, selling desks, paper cutters, video cameras, chalkboards, even a coat of arms.
"Someone has taken the top off this pencil sharpener," he said in his best scolding teacher’s voice as he paused before auctioning it off. "Keep your eyes open."

Just ahead of Holzman’s approaching hordes, a frantic mother and son rummaged around a cluttered classroom, finally unearthing his project on Japan before it becomes rubble in the demolition.

Across the hall, a teacher hurriedly took down her students’ artwork before the auctioneer got to her classroom.

"I don’t think anybody would bid on this, but you never know," she said as she stashed the masterpieces in a safe place.

In the corner of the room, a stack of red and gold plastic chairs made Marion Robles do a double take.

"I’m discouraged that they’re selling good chairs," said Robles, whose grandson attends the school.

Blaine Jenefsky, who just started school in the brand new building behind the old school, explained.

"They just want everything to be new."

Hayes said Monday that she was happy to see a lot of things being purchase to be put to good use elsewhere.

“We sold a lot of furniture and a lot of it went to facilities that couldn’t afford new,” she said. “One churc bought items that went to an orphanzage.”

Hayes said the leftovers were sent to the Anna Maria Island Community Center to see what it could use and what was left would be sent to Mississippi for school in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina to use in rebuilding.



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