Crosby buildings may not talk, but its people sure can

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Posted 7/18/17 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

In some ways it seems like just yesterday when the new high school in Crosby was put in to service.
Maybe that’s why those of my generation still tend to refer to it as new.
Likely it’s the same in your hometown, whether you graduated in Crosby, Tioga or out-of-state.
It was late summer of 1971, and contractors were behind schedule. We were planning to start the coming school year in the old school, and move up to the new building as soon as it was finished.
The old place, as it had been since long before my mom and dad walked its halls, was headquarters for early morning fall football practice.
Then one morning, several hours before football practice was to begin, the fire siren sounded. Some towels with heat balm residue apparently had combusted spontaneously, and poof, the building was, well . . . toast.
We were the first class to graduate from the new building -- the Class of ‘72. As such we were the first to receive diplomas from Divide County High School. The Class of ‘71 got theirs from Crosby High School.
Today the new high school, because of, you know, age and such, sports new additions and renovations. At 45, the new school isn’t anywhere close to 100. 
But the courthouse is, and the imposing mercantile building on Main Street.
In just a couple weeks a couple thousand people will hit town to celebrate “100 Years of Building.”
There was a building boom in 1917, a hundred years ago. In addition to the courthouse and the Ingwalson Building, it was the year that the “old” white hospital started taking patients.
Not that I remember it, but I was born at that hospital. It’s where I had my wrist stitched up when my hand went through the glass in our storm door window. And where my head got stitched after it slammed into the brick school building when I was dethroned as king of the snow pile hill.
In the 90s, when the last efforts to save the old hospital had failed and it was declared a hazard, we salvaged bricks from its walls and sold them as mementos to raise a few dollars for the “new” hospital.
The Ingwalson Building nearly met a similar fate until a yeoman community effort in the mid-2000s set the stage for its prominence to continue.
To me the building will always be known as the Penney Building, because it was a J.C. Penney store when I was growing up. At 16 or 17 I got my first set of new golf clubs from that store. Northwesterns. I still have them. And I’m not 16 or 17 anymore.
It was also the place to go any time you needed a Christmas present for your grandma or a birthday gift for your mom.
But it fell on hard times, hosting a few short-lived business ventures, then standing vacant for many years before being saved in the nick of time, preventing Father Time from becoming its grim reaper.
Today, Divide Abstract has returned it to a place of prominence.
The courthouse has always been on prominent display at the end of Main Street.
In my memory, it was a place of high importance and higher reverence.
Among my clearest courthouse memories is the black and yellow Fallout Shelter sign, whose three yellow triangles inside a black circle pointed the way to what everyone believed was a place of safety from nuclear attack.
In Mrs. Romsos’ fourth grade class, when we practiced putting our heads under our desks for protection from attack, we learned the fallout shelter at the courthouse was a safe haven.
Now the courthouse, too, has been renovated and enlarged, solidifying its place as the defining structure in the community.
Touring these and other buildings that have been recently built or renovated surely will be a highlight of the Aug. 4-6 community celebration.
If these buildings could talk, they’d have some amazing stories to tell.
Instead it will be the people attending the celebration who do the talking,  drawing on thousands of memories of the place we call home.