Memories of the Forrest School

By Don McAlavy: CNJ Columnist

By Judy Sours

“Saturday, July 5, 2008, marked another Forrest, N.M. reunion,” said Judy Sours. “I have attended several, including the first one held in 1966. The school had recently closed and the buildings were empty, no longer to be used to educate children.

“Small rural communities live through the school, as did Forrest, and this was the end of a great school. The school building may be crumbling, but the spirit of Forrest lives on in the hearts of those that attended the reunion.

“My memories begin in the 60s when I was an elementary kid myself. I never attended Forrest School, but oh, how I wanted to! The closest I ever got to that was to go to school with my grandmother and visit the classroom while she taught. That was a very special time for me.

“During this time that I speak, the junior high or high school was closed, and there were very few first through sixth grade kids. There were two teachers for them. On the bottom floor was a storage room of old desks and chairs not being used because there were such a small population. This was just another treasure in my eyes.

“The lunchroom served wonderful food. Ethyl Kitchens would make homemade loaves of bread. The milk came out of a big silver box, not in cartons. Later, the lunchroom was used for large community dinners, and a side room was turned into a ceramic room where many beautiful pieces were made by the Forrest women.

“The playground had a slide that scared me; it was so tall! The merry-go-round was a metal cone on a pole, and we ran to gather speed, then hung on and swung out until it slowed down, and it took lots of courage for me also.

There was a store owned and ran by Dupie and Andy Mitchell and all of us kids could play while the parents shopped. The store was a happy placed to be, with large candy and soda pop selection. The grape and red suckers were my favorite. If one happened to pick the right sucker with a piece of tape on it, put there by the candy company that meant a free sucker from that box. Wahoo!!

“After the school closed, it was used for Vacation Bible School directed by Joy Moon and we held the program there at the end of the week. There were lots of kids for VBS, and we marched around the gym during the opening ceremony singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” while Carrie Lindsey played the piano. Years latter, the little gym stage housed a live band and several dances were held there. Now that is versatility — vacation bible school to country and western dances.

“The Forrest School and the community people of Forrest need to re-unite every chance that they get. We need to tell our children of the magical place called Forrest and explain what a feeling of home and happiness we feel when we are here. We need to thank all of those who have worked so hard to preserve Forrest by reunions, keeping the church alive, and maintaining the cemeteries so we can return to our Forrest and find it intact. We can only hope and pray that our children and their children find a “Forrest” in their lives that will give them roots and a feeling of being grounded and belonging.”

Judy Sours email address is:

sours@plateautel.net