by Jennifer Greene-Sullivan, former Chester Eagle Cheerleader and Student
Became Chester Elementary School in 1950 and Chester High School was originally built in 1927
This morning, my phone rings inside the truck at 6:50 am. I am taking a right turn onto Hwy 257 driving toward downtown Chester, Georgia. I answer the phone with a “hello.”
Chris, my husband, replies, “Do you have Liam’s bookbag?”
“Um, no, do I Sophia?” I ask my daughter who rides with me every morning to Alamo, Georgia, on our way to Wheeler County High School, where I teach.
I turn my head to look in the backseat, and there lies Liam’s Paw Patrol Bookbag.
“Yes, I have it,” I respond, “but I have no idea why I have it. I can leave the bag on the front stoop of the elementary school on my way through town.”
“Yeah, that will work.” Chris added.
I pull my dark gray F-150 with the lift kit into the parking lot of my alma mater: Chester Elementary School. I promptly tell Sophia I would place the bookbag on the stoop.
“I want to see it for myself. I haven’t been in this parking lot since I rode the bus on my last day of school for sixth grade. My daddy went here, my papa went here, even Teenie graduated from Chester.”
“Really?” replies Sophia as I hop out of the driver seat and walk Liam’s bookbag up to the front stoop.
The birds who are nested in the right hand corner of the stoop fly away. I ease the Paw Patrol book bag into the right corner of the front stoop and slowly back away from the doors of Chester Elementary, paying attention to the windows of the library as I recall all the trophies that were strategically placed around the shelves.
I still can remember going to visit Dale Rogers who was the librarian during my time at Chester. I recollect buying all the discarded books (kids books and teachers editions) from Mrs. Rogers before she dumped them inside the trash can. I couldn’t wait to take my finds back to my bedroom, which was my very first classroom.
“I am so lucky to ride by here and reminiscence each morning and afternoon. I got on my first bus to Dodge High School stadium in third grade to cheer on the field for the first time. I loved it here.” I say to Sophia. She pretends to be asleep.
However, now that I am adult, I feel sad for the blight I see on my way through Chester. The prison may still be here, but the downtown and the residential areas do not look as fresh and upkept as they once were. Wouldn’t it be great for Chester to be as special as it was to me as a child?
As a wife, mother, and teacher, I have no idea how to go about the revitalization of a small little town in North Dodge County. However, as a children’s book author, I know how to write about what I know. So, today, Chester, Georgia, as well as Chester Elementary School will make it into the newest edition to my Esmerelda series.
The name of the book is Attack of the Pocket Fuzz, and this very morning, I made a note to have the characters who run away from the Pocket Fuzz monster will hide inside Chester Elementary School while the monster attacks the rest of downtown Chester. No one can take away my memories or my nostalgia for my childhood, and I can eternalize my love for my hometown as well as my community (Chester and Roddy) when I create settings my children’s books.
I am attaching what I have so far with Esmerelda and the Pocket Fuzz monster as it lives and destroys CHESTER, GEORGIA!!
Attack of the Pocket Fuzz
by Jennifer Greene-Sullivan
It was a bright, cool day in late February, and Esmerelda sits in her dad’s big, overstuffed wingback chair. She kicks both her legs as they drape over the sides of her dad’s chair.
She kicks and thinks hard about something to do on this Saturday morning, but her mind could not imagine ANYTHING to do.
She hums under her breath to the beat of the sound of her legs as they hit the arms of the overstuffed chair. Her little chiweenie named Rudy sniffs the air as Esmerelda’s legs swing.
Rudy ponders what his favorite little girl might be about to do. “Rudy, there isn’t much to do today. It’s cold. Come over here and let me pet your light brown fur.” Esmerelda says so sweetly to her little dog.
Rudy jumps up with his short little chiweenie legs into her lap and licks Esmerelda’s face. Essie pushes Rudy away from her face while giggling at his funny little tongue. He quickly reacts and bounces around the chair until he notices the pocket of her jeans. Rudy delves so quickly with his chiweenie paws, and little black nails dig into the recess of Esmerelda’s jean pocket.
“What are you looking for, Rudy?” Esmerelda asks. Rudy barks and barks in excitement. All of a sudden, he sticks his snoot into the pocket and lifts out a bunch of…LINT! The bunch of gray, pink, purple, and blue pocket fuzz clings to the outside of Rudy’s mouth as he grasps the pocket fuzz with his teeth. Esmerelda laughs aloud and hops up off the chair, chasing her crazy little brown chiweenie with the pocket fuzz in his mouth. While chasing her cute puppy, Essie imagines an entirely new scenario.
In the blink of an eye, Rudy and all his puppy friends sprint through the city of Chester. They discover a hiding place inside the front stoop of the old elementary school. Chester Elementary School is positioned at the end of town, and Rudy and his puppy friends realize the school will be a safe hiding place from the POCKET FUZZ MONSTER.
The huge pink Pocket Fuzz Monster is destroying downtown Chester. The pups watched as the monster burst inside Ms. Stella’s Restaurant, wrecking tables, chairs, and counters. If only there were a hero to save Chester from the horrible attack of the Pocket Fuzz!
To BE CONTINUED…