This was a flashback weekend! We went to Westtown, PA for Slow Boy’s 15 year high school reunion. His parents moved away from his hometown when he moved out to Portland, so being his first time back in 10 years and my first time ever, there was a lot to see and remember.
The Pin Oak farm house
Slow Boy grew up in a farm house built sometime in the 1820s. His parents bought the house when it was in terrible shape, and put a lot of work into fixing it up into a beautiful and adorable home. A little nervous and awkward, we came by to visit, and got a nice tour by the family who had bought the house after them. Naturally things had changed: the shutters are now a deep red instead of blue, the then-popular-sponge paint had to go, the forest-covered lot had been cleared for their kids to play, and his teenager attic pad had been transformed into multiple rooms. But for Slow Boy, it was exactly how he remembered — except maybe smaller. It’s an amazing, antique home, with the original farm bell, a basement door so intimidating that Slow Boy didn’t dare go down by himself until he was double-digits, and colonial masonry work. We took seedlings from the Japanese maple, over a 100 years old, in front, in hopes to replace our dying one (sniff).
West Chester Friends
Oh, how I’d love to see Slow Boy as a little kid. We happened to pass his elementary school, where one time he and his best friend drilled a hole in the stone wall to get rock dust for a science experiment. We also looked for his initials that he attempted to carve on his last day there, knowing he’d be leaving forever. It was supposedly in a corner where the teachers couldn’t see him. I got to meet a few from his kindergarten class, and they say he looks the same. I think so!
I’ve always pictured “preps” and “rich kids” at boarding school, but was confused because Slow Boy is no prep. After visiting Westtown and spending some time with his classmates, I understand that this was really just early college. The school itself is impressive: founded in 1799, it’s a diverse school that builds on community and a strong education. It has a serious campus: 600 acres! There’s a lake, a cross country course, farms, an untouched forest…at a high school! Still, kids were kids: there’s the cool crowd, sneaking around, and getting kicked out. We went to meeting on Sunday, which is a Quaker tradition where everyone gathers together for one hour to sit silently and reflect. If someone feels moved, they can speak aloud; in the teenager’s case, it’s a great time to sleep.
I learned a lot from seeing where Slow Boy grew up. It helped me understand his love for old things, since every building he spent time in was at least older than 1850. His high school experience, though in many cases is like any other school and its adolescents, is unique by the strong bond it creates in these people’s lives. Where my 10 year reunion was one evening at a bar, this was a weekend of events, of visiting the dedicated staff, including Ernie the cook, who still remember you, and where there were alums from the class of ’49. Several times I heard people comment how they want their kids to go to Westtown. Westonians are lifers.