Posts Tagged ‘St. John’

Size Class

11 March 2010

Dear J-

Back in Washington, the state used to classify school athletics by enrollment; AAA schools had a thousand students or more, AA schools were five hundred to a thousand, and so on until you got to the B schools, whose exact numbers I don’t remember, but I believe were less than a hundred students in the entire high school. The really big schools were all from the major centers — Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, and the Tri-Cities — and our town was big enough to support a AA school (I think our exact number was close to eight hundred when you counted in the 9th graders?), And our town was not huge by any stretch — eight thousand people inside the city limits, maybe a total of ten including the borders of the district.

Some of the B schools, though, had to draw from two or more towns to even field teams; that’s where you’d hear of names like Almira-Coulee-Hartline, Tekoa-Oakesdale, or St. John-Endicott (whose St. John contingent called “Emptysquat” to emphasize just how small the town was), and they were all, almost without exception, east of the mountains. This is the background that shapes my perspective; I knew about cities and subways but only as a theoretical exercise; a determined bicyclist could make it across town in fifteen minutes, which led to thoughts of becoming a bicycle messenger in a place with no demand for one.

In comparison the county and corridors we travel (fifty miles of city along I-5) are asprawl with concrete and streetlights; I still goggle at it every so often to remind myself of the St. Johns and Coulee Citys of the world, where time stood still for us one week each summer. With any luck we should be able to find ourselves someplace a world apart yet close in my mind, some time this summer; the unexpected reminders of home are always waiting to ambush my head.