The Observer got out to the storied halls of Little Rock Central High the other night for Junior's Christmas recital, the young'un lugging his tuba onto the very large stage in the very large auditorium there just off the very large entrance and then performing admirably, along with the choir, the beginning band, and the students of the Pulaski Heights Middle School dance classes.
Given how long your correspondent has lived in Little Rock now — and even though Junior is scheduled to be a proud Central High Tiger himself in just a few years — it's kind of shocking how few times The Observer has ever been inside the building itself, that monumental pile looking like nothing so much as Hogwarts' sister institution here in the States, complete with what appear to be statues of four becloaked witches or wizards of yore hovering over the front door. We've seen it in history books, of course — grainy newsreel footage, mostly — but we've only been inside once or twice. Then, as now, we were shocked by the grandeur of it. It's a lovely old place, and puts the crackerbox high school we attended to abject shame.
As Spouse and Hubs were sitting in the auditorium — comfortably installed in the back rows, as has been our habit since our days as a high school slacker — The Observer noticed something rather odd. Under many of the seats in the room are what appear to be large, domed bells, something like the red ones that went off in our school during the thrice-yearly fire drills, or what you'd see dinging in new rounds at a prizefight. At least, we THINK they're bells. If they are bells, why would there need to be so dang many of them? Surely even teen-agers couldn't sleep through the drone of a quarter that many clangers. The Observer was interested enough that we managed to snap a very grainy cellphone picture of said bell-like objects.
While we could probably make a few phone calls and clear up our confusion right quick — the ability to clear up confusion in short order is the one and only superpower bestowed on reporters at their creation, unless you count a superhuman capacity for drink — we thought we'd throw it out to the community and see if there are any old Central High wizards and witches among us who know what those little domes under the seats in the auditorium were used for. That tactic is always more fun than making a bunch of phone calls, and we figure that if those do-dads confused a full-grown fool like us, they have surely confuzzled generations of smart young Tigers — maybe even enough to sprout a school legend or three.
Christmas will be over by the time you read this, with all the gifts unwrapped and the remainder of the Christmas goose tucked safely away in the fridge, with a lot of minds turning toward either getting that tree back in the box or out to the curb. Though we used to be partial to Halloween, Christmas has slowly supplanted that spookiest of holidays in The Observer's mind as our favorite time of year, especially since we resolved to quit running around like a maniac trying to BUY! for everyone some years back and just decided to concentrate on loving, respecting and appreciating the weird, wonderful, always-inspiring family of our fellow Arkansans.
Whatever your religious persuasion — or even if you don't believe in nuttin' — The Observer hopes your holidays were a happy one, dear reader, and we hope your New Year delivers much of the same. The Observer is glad you're still around. Glad we're still around too.