History is a funny thing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Sure you can go back and try to stitch the pieces together to make a record of a time and place, but the relics of the past are impossible to fully replace.
Some have no time for history. What’s past is past, they say. But some understand the value of yesterday and make it their mission to preserve it. And, more often than not, those people have a desire to share the history they’ve saved with others.
It’s those people who keep yesterday alive for all of us to look back on and enjoy.
Take the former Monroe Township School on East Main Street in Flora. It’s in pretty bad shape. What windows aren’t completely broken are cracked, and the rest are covered with plywood. There is a pile of bricks that fell from the third-story east wall. It’s obvious that its days are numbered. In fact, it’s slated for demolition.
Town officials are already in the process of getting their ducks in a row to do the demolition. This piece of history will be gone as soon as August.
We don’t blame town officials. There is no denying the schoolhouse is past the point of restoration and now poses a risk to the public.
Once the building is gone, it’s gone forever. But thanks to the efforts of a self-proclaimed diehard fan of the school, its history will live on for years to come.
That diehard is Pat Wisler-Meade. She graduated from the school in 1960, just one year ahead of the last graduating class from that building.
Wisler-Meade has acquired numerous old trophies, uniforms, yearbooks and photographs from the school’s heyday. She has more than 35 of the items on display in a meeting room inside her barn so that others can experience the school’s rich history.
And where did she find many of these priceless heirlooms? Many were retrieved from a trash bin after a building cleanup. Wisler-Meade saw value in what others didn’t.
Thanks to her, future generations will know the township once rooted for the Yellow Jackets. They’ll know the small school’s basketball team made it to the state championship tournament in 1946.
They’ll be able to see relics from the old schoolhouse that formerly boasted 18 classrooms.
We thank Wisler-Meade and the other Flora residents who are ensuring the school’s history will be told long after the building housing it is gone.