Tag Archives: McKinley Elementary School

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy, Part III

What I didn’t realize until after my MIL passed away was that she had painted my first school–McKinley Elementary–where I attended kindergarten. My grandparents lived across the street, and I stayed with them during the day while my parents were at work. Grandma walked me across Emerson Street every morning for school. In this painting you can see my grandparents’ house on the other corner. Sorry that the image below looks a little crooked. There is glass over the painting and I had to angle the camera in order to avoid the glare.

The school is long gone, but the house my grandfather built is still standing. When I was a kid it was white, but then it was gold. Now it’s white again. The gray house on the other side of theirs is also gone. Here is the house today as I saw it in October.

Here’s a little tangent away from my mother-in-law. Although the house looks modest, it was a wonderland to me. I loved every minute I spent there–from the 2nd floor with the 3 bedrooms still preserved as my mother and her siblings had lived in them (complete with books and toys) to the kitchen where my grandmother made homemade doughnuts and delicious farm suppers to the money plants and strawberries growing out back.

My gigantic classroom at McKinley was at the opposite side of the first floor from my grandparents’ house. It had a huge window which opened out to a grassy field. We could walk out through that field and sit under an old thick-trunked tree while the teacher read to us or we played post office. I do wonder sometimes what it is that makes us tear down public buildings that well served generations. Why do we need new?

My MIL’s paintings captured many buildings in Kalamazoo that had new facades put on or were destined to be destroyed. How sweet of her to paint my first school.

P.S. We discovered the painting after Diana passed away, and my husband and I gave it to my mother because it was her school, too!

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