LCS @50: Kevin McNulty's Memories

2nd Grade- 1969/70

As Lincoln looks forward to celebrating 50 years of building a strong community, we rely on memories and anecdotes from some of the oldest members of our community. Kevin McNulty, the son of Frances McNulty who was one of the founders of Lincoln Community School, humorously recaps some of his earliest days on campus.

"I was not in the first year of Lincoln School but it could not have been too old when I started, as my oldest sister was in one of the first classes. At the time it went from 1st to 8th grade, so I was pretty young. Everything seems a lot bigger when you are younger, looking back, so I remember huge walls, huge buildings and lots of playground space. The usual story is that you go back years later and everything seems much smaller. In my case, I can't really say that. When I went back to Accra about 10 years ago and went to the site of the first Lincoln School I found out it had been turned into a hotel! The Alisa Hotel, to be exact. And it was quite a sizeable hotel. So I guess that says something.

Before it was a school, it was a house. Given the size of the house it was a house for someone that I am guessing had a very large swiss bank account at one time, but still a house. When we visited, you could still see the outlines of the old buildings in parts of the hotel, but it had definitely been added to. It was expanded on when we were there. It seemed like every year a room somewhere was added. First, the art buildings in the back, then patios on the ground floor were turned into classrooms, then the big patio on the second floor was covered over and turned into the French class, then the covered patio by the pool was turned into another art class. The pool itself never worked and was either empty or full of rainwater – a sheer danger to kids. These days you probably would have needed to have every parent sign a waiver to let their kids into the school grounds given the danger. But that pool was awfully attractive to us anyway as it was forbidden to us to play in. So of course we snuck into it when we could.

To get into the school, you had to pass through a great, big blue metal gate. But most importantly you had to get past the gatekeeper, Timbala. Timbala was a smallish, skinny man with a high voice. He was always friendly with us kids, and would laugh with us and talk to us. He was always good for news and rumors as we got older. If we wanted to get peanuts, PK bubblegum (six pence) or other snacks, he would go buy some for us. We could give him some money at a break, and then next time after class he would have them. There were always people selling stuff up the road. Not sure if he was supposed to do that. Probably kept a little fee for doing it. But it was win-win for everyone. No one snuck out, and he was only gone when everyone was in class. He would sometimes play soccer or other games with us, but wouldn't stray too long from his gate. He was good at watching the gate and I don't really remember anyone sneaking out, at least through the gate.

On the other hand, on the other side of the back wall, where the playground ended, was the Danish Ambassador's house. When I was about 4th grade, the Danish Ambassador's son was in my class. We would jump the wall at lunch or after school and go to his house. No one ever caught us doing that. But that was a temporary escape route until the Danish Ambassador moved. Once in the gate there was a driveway that led up to the front of the building. I don't remember cars using that much, so I imagine it was only for special occasions. Drop off and pick up were right outside the gate. I assume there was some reason for that but it seemed like sheer chaos as a kid. We would all be running around until someone said "Your mom is over there", and then we would pile into the back of the station wagon that was not air conditioned - all us kids and usually several friends, getting as close to the windows that popped out as possible for some air. But that is another story."

As we draw closer to the 50th Anniversary weekend in November, we will be sharing short anecdotes from some of the people who helped build the school. Stay tuned!