Two years ago, after standing for almost 90 years, one of our town’s old brick schools was torn down. Though I never stepped inside the school, I always admired its gracious steps, tall windows and the bow-windowed kindergarten room that poked out the side. I didn’t know this at the time, but at the heart of the old kindergarten room stood a fireplace.
In the weeks before demolition, former teachers and students stopped by the school to say their final goodbyes. Some took pictures. Others just looked and remembered. But one group did more. Our town’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board not only remembered that the kindergarten class contained a grand and beautifully tiled fireplace, they took steps to preserve it. And, in the process of dismantling the fireplace tile by tile, they discovered some small tiles, long-forgotten and covered with thick paint.
Now free of paint, the re-discovered tiles each depict a different animal, colorfully rendered in thick hand-glazed strokes. This week, I discovered those tiles on display in a modest little case at our public library. And to my delight, in addition to celebrating the story of their preservation, the exhibit included reproduction tiles available for purchase! I purchased several which now hang in my kitchen.
Like that old school, our lives, too, are full of forgotten treasures. And from a writer’s perspective, those tiles are a good reminder that the best ideas often require digging a little deeper into ourselves, scratching beneath the surface of first impressions to find memories worth exploring and sharing. May this week be full of forgotten treasures – found!