Perk Gym Demo Reveals Forgotten School Memories

When demolition of the old Perkinston Elementary School gym began last month, the wreckage revealed artifacts from a former time.

The gym was demolished as district-wide renovation projects continued. It has been used since the 1950s, but the structure is suspected to be much older.

“We’ve used it for a long, long time,” Superintendent Inita Owen said at the most recent school board meeting. “We think it was actually constructed in the 40s. It was actually an army barracks at one time. They brought it back down and set it up for us.”

At the meeting, Owen presented a brief slideshow of the progress and included photos of several interesting items representing just about every decade the building has been in use.

Glass soda bottles nearly 70 years old were somehow hidden in the walls along with rusted tins of Prince Albert chewing tobacco and cough drops from a now-defunct company, Sucrets Lozenges.

Owen said she believes many of the soda bottles and other items were intentionally dropped into open spaces in the walls by students years ago.

“It was actually amazing,” Owen said of the discovery.

Other items uncovered included old leather shoes, which resembled styles from the 1950s. One class photo (pictured above) flitted out of the debris and onto the pavement, where it was later found.

The only info on the photo includes the caption “SCHOOL DAYS 1962 - 63 HELENA.”

And on the back reads a brief inscription in faint pencil: “To a pretty girl I will always like. You are pretty, Sherry. Stay that ways for all of us. Love ya’.”

It was signed by an “Alliene.”

The Enterprise staff is interested in helping the photo get to its intended owner.

Owen mentioned several Perkinston Elementary alumni were heartbroken that the gym had to be torn down, but she said several pieces of the old building will live on.

The metal siding and other parts of the PES gym were removed before demolition and will be reused in the renovation at a later date.