Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Open forum: Good-bye, Richard Montgomery

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by Daniel T. Fahey

Another Rockville icon is demolished — Richard Montgomery High School. I graduated way back in 1969. It feels like yesterday, yet a really long time ago. It was tough driving by the old school. Like watching a dying patient, then lights go out for the last time, next the dissection of the body for parts and burial.

Yep, I am having a hard time with this. Despite the fact that nothing lasts forever, though in life lots of things make your brain think that. It makes you head spin when the smack of reality makes its mark, a distinct mark in the passage of time, the end of an era.

The grief is aggravated driving by the old school every day. You see the whole process, from knowing it was going to happen, seeing the last day the kids were practicing on the fields. Then the trucks arrive and one by one each edifice, tree, fence, bleachers, football field, the macadam surfaced track, the worn out score box, path, hill, backstop were removed. The ground dug up, pipes, cement, steel, plumbing, wiring, windows, brick and block replaced the spots I bleed and played on.

There are lots of other evolving evidence. A kidney-like tank was pulled from the old school, tractors were creating pathways, and windows removed, then tearing down the walls piece-by-piece, truckloads of debris. The shell is all that is left. Does anyone remember the old RM phone booth?

Last year, there was a reunion of all Richard Montgomery graduates. Wow, some of us were really toasty. Our class of 1969 was prolific, vibrant, alive. Go figure! But all generations back to the ‘50s and some ‘40s were all represented. I felt I had gone back in time and through a time portal, struggling to grasp this last experience.

Everyone toured the old and newer sections of the school hallways. Strange shadows of life, of time and memories raced through. All the while behaving as everything was normal, talking to everyone, meeting old friends, stories about school, family, kids, eating in the school cafeteria one last time.

Richard Montgomery represents one of the last of the major icons of old Rockville and the same strange feeling of 1970 watching old Rockville destroyed. It is the latest in a series of processes, our turn, my generation to feel and to experience this event, again.

For those who experienced RM, love it or hate, it represents a passage. For me it is a cruel reality. Richard Montgomery will be gone forever, replaced by a brand new shiny imposter, maybe a new one to be rebuilt in another 75 years, their imposter.

Daniel T. Fahey is president and CEO of DanSources Technical Services Inc. in Rockville.