In the Pipeline: School treasure is really old friends and memories

July 01, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Left: The outdoor Lamb Elementary stage in the early 1970s. Right: The Lamb stage last week when students gathered for a reunion.
Left: The outdoor Lamb Elementary stage in the early 1970s.… (Courtesy Chris…)

It seems like it's becoming a bittersweet ritual here in Huntington Beach. Students going back to the grade schools to wander abandoned buildings and overgrown fields to say goodbye.

Recently this paper did a story on students returning to Wardlow School just weeks before demolition began, to bid farewell. Other schools have also fallen by the wayside, and just last week I witnessed another event that saw students returning to the place where they grew up.

Lamb Elementary on Yorktown Avenue is slated to be razed in several months. Thanks to an active Facebook page and a motivated former student named Lisa Antonacci, a plan was made before the reunion party to meet at the old school grounds to locate a buried treasure. Literally.

It seems a time capsule was buried in the mid-1970s, and so former students set out to dig it up and see what is inside.

On a warm and sunny Saturday morning they began to arrive. Some were carrying old class pictures and signed yearbooks. Lamb Elementary was open from 1965 through 1979, and this was an all-year reunion.


Most recently the school has been used as a training ground for SWAT teams and other law enforcement organizations. The grounds where assemblies were once held and lunches consumed today are littered with broken glass and marred by graffiti. But nobody seemed upset. After all, there was treasure to be hunted.

Antonacci, a class of '80 student who now lives in Las Vegas, told me that as bittersweet as the experience was, she was still thrilled to see old classmates and talk old times. There is something about a reunion that brings out the kid in many an adult, as scrapbook memories are shared and long-ago friendships are rekindled.

I also spoke with Jerry Abrahams, 46, who has been with the Huntington Beach Police Department for 19 years. He told me the day was surreal, because even if he didn't know students from the school, he still recognized many of their names, and so to see them now as adults was a strange experience.

Also, his mother worked at the school, and so his memories were particularly personal. And yes, he was eager to dig in the designated spot by the front of the school to try to unearth the time capsule.

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