PROSPECT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – PART 3
My Prospect Experience by Bruce Dzeda
Mrs. Lowry had a lesson that was what we would today call inter-active: She brought some cream to school one morning (dropped off by her milk-man at her house earlier!) and we kids sat in a circle shaking small bottles of cream for all we were worth for what seemed like 20 minutes. Then she collected the several bottles of shaken cream and put them in the wooden cupboards that lined her room on the north wall. The next morning Mrs. Lowry opened the cupboards and took out...butter! Our shaken cream had turned to butter! Thus began my entrance into the discipline of science.
Mrs. Lowry also read to us, a precious gift in those days before we could read for ourselves. She had us in rows and would read stories to us, which I loved. I remember looking around her room and seeing all the ferns she had growing in clay pots. Her kindergarten room was really a double room as it was two rooms opened up to each other.
I remember Mrs. Lowry as kind and compassionate, swift to comfort or praise a 5 year old kid. I have no photo of her and can't remember her face, but I owe that lady a lot. Her room was located in the 1910 building at Prospect. Until they demolished the building about 1980 I would revisit the place and look at the steps I as a kid would tread as I began my schooling.
Even better, in 1970 I was working as a young, fresh-out-of-college substitute teacher at Shaw High School, where earlier that year I had done my student teaching. That Fall I was assigned as a substitute to a Shaw class, I can't remember the subject, The class met in what Shaw in 1970 termed the "Prospect Annex". You may have guessed my point. For a day or two I held class in Mrs. Lowry’s room! The wheel had come full circle! I got to teach early in my career in the same room where I had attended kindergarten! I'm grateful to this day for that happy coincidence.
The next year, school year 1954-1955 saw me enrolled in Gloria Goodman's 1st grade classroom. My years at Prospect were about to become something other than the unmitigated happiness I knew under Mrs. Lowry's tutelage.
The 1910 addition to Prospect School featured concrete floors and steel and stone stairways. About this time the steam heating plant was built behind Prospect and it ended the need for a furnace in the school buildings. When the heating plant went online both Prospect and Shaw were heated by steam from a different building. Consequently both were much safer schools from a systems viewpoint. Well do I recall the coal trucks to the heating plant rumbling past Mrs. Lowry's windows bringing coal deliveries from the Board of Education's warehouse on Elderwood Avenue between Northfield & Strathmore; the Board building had its own coal trestle which was standing in 2017.
The heating plant was a brick building of two or three stories in height with a tall brick smokestack. I found it a fascinating place to look at. It was demolished in the early 1960's after both schools were probably converted to heat by gas boilers. In the bowels of Prospect I recall seeing the cold boilers in the basement; I imagine this is the space the new gas boilers were installed.