Farewell to a Fallston landmark

Who else remembers fondly Youth's Benefit and more innocent times?

Nostalgia is defined as "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations." I felt a wave of it as I drove by the old Youth's Benefit School on my way back from work this week ("First part of Youth's Benefit replacement set for August completion, Harford school officials say," July 19). It was 1962 when I first saw it, and in those days it served not only as our elementary school but was the only public building in the area where young people gathered for after school activities.

I served as a summer camp counselor there and later as a student adviser to the "Teen Center" that held dances and "Battles of the Bands" on Friday nights. Those were such innocent times compared to today — the worst I can remember happening was an impromptu drag race out on Route 152 where there was no traffic other than perhaps the occasional tractor heading back to the barn after a long day of bailing hay.

Years later, my children would attend Youth's Benefit and receive what was widely considered one of the best educational experiences to be had in the state. The walls of the gymnasium/auditorium/cafeteria came down this week. I saw the clock on the east wall we used to look at to tell the band it was time to stop playing. The stage on which so many student events, graduations, concerts, elections and speeches were held lay bare and exposed to the mechanical jaws of the demolition excavator tearing it into small pieces.

So much local history, so many people touched in some way by that nondescript brick building that soon would be gone.

No doubt the community will gain much with the building of the new Youth's Benefit Elementary, but I can't help but feel we will also be losing a link to Fallston's history. The flag in front of the rubble pile, at half-staff for police officers killed while protecting us, seemed to also be flying for the passing of the years we spent at old Youth's Benefit and an era gone past.

Ted Wasielewski, Baldwin

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