December 27th, 2009


Nostalgia, Sort of

On my way to visit the folks this morning I stopped at my high school, took a bunch of photos, and peeked into the area which has the sign over it which says

Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center

There's a story behind that which I'll get to later.

It was sad seeing the sign, on many levels. Robeson was a world class talent, but he had zero ties to Seattle, let alone Rainier Beach. The choice was a PC sop to the demographics of the moment, RB having become heavily African-American. When I went to RB in the 60's, it had one of the strongest theater programs in the city, despite having no theater, almost no theater funding and the smallest student body of any high school in the city. By the time the multi-million dollar theater was finally built, the teacher who had built the drama program had died, and there was no program at all. There is still almost nothing, maybe one musical a year produced by an outside non-profit group with minimal support from RB or Seattle Public Schools. What a waste.

Across the street is a large park, which was Atlantic City Park when I went to RB, but now the sign says "Ber Sheva Park", named after one of Seattle's 12,345 sister cities, this one in Israel. Amusing, because my older sister was very active in promoting Seattle's first sister city, Kobe Japan. She has since moved to Israel, and her husband worked in Ber Sheva before he retired. Total coincidence.

The school as a nice new football/soccer field with about 3x the bleachers we had during the no-win days. On the outside wall of the gym they have printed the basketball and track state championships RB started winning when the demographics changed, and RB became solely a Sr high school (middle school is down the street). Almost every year in the 80's, a few in the current decade too. There's also a baseball field which used to just be a playground. And they have done away with the student parking lot, it seems.
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