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OPINION: The way it is now with security

OPINION: The way it is now with security

I remember lots of stuff, but I’m also vaguely aware that everything I believe I remember didn’t necessarily happen exactly the way I “remember” it. 

I’m no brainologist, but I recall reading one time that when we remember something, our mental apparatus is not actually going all the way back to the original incident as it was logged in the old noggin way back when; rather, what we’re remembering is the last time we remembered that particular thing. Sort of like making a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy — a bit of blurring happens every time, until what you’re getting out of the copy machine can no longer be considered a faithful reproduction of the original.

Anyway, what I was remembering just now was a scene that took place, sometime around 1955, in the cafeteria of the erstwhile Kensington Grammar School in Berlin, starring Catherine M. McGee, the erstwhile principal thereof. I must’ve been 6 or 7.

Miss McGee wanted to make some kind of announcement, so she banged on the nearest table with a fork to get our attention (which shouldn’t have been difficult, since we were all terrified of her).

But when the fork came down, it came down on the hand of the unfortunate Marilyn Hart, who just happened to be sitting there.

Or maybe it didn’t — maybe the fork almost but not quite hit Marilyn’s hand. That’s what I mean about these old memories.

Miss McGee was tall — or was she? She had white hair and a double chin — I think. And I recall the sound of the many bangle bracelets on her arm, clacking together as she banged for silence. Or do I?

I also remember another day at KGS when I had lost my quarter for lunch, but somebody found it and turned it in to the teacher, and the teacher said whoever can tell her what year the quarter is can have it. I told her it was a 1925, so she gave it back to me.

Anyway, the stream of consciousness that brought up all this ancient history started with a recent report in this newspaper:

BERLIN — Construction has begun on the first of four new security vestibules in the town's elementary schools. The vestibules at each school are designed to keep visitors from accessing the hallways before a driver’s license security check. It is an enclosed room with access only to the main office. The school's Raptor system checks the license against the sex offender registry and other databases.

And I thought about how sad it is that we have to even think about stuff like this — that little kids, like I was back then, now have to worry about security. Security?

We had no security in those days. Even in 1969, when Berlin named its new middle school after Miss McGee, there was no thought of security.

But now we’re 20 years into the era of school shootings, and this is the new normal. 

Bomb drills we would have, at my next school. The teacher would lower the Venetian blinds (because there’s nothing like Venetian blinds to stop an atom bomb) and we’d crouch under our desks. But the bombs never came.

For kids today, the shootings keep on coming.

Reach Glenn Richter at