Helmet from yesteryear surfaces during demolition of old Imbler School

By By Dick Mason The Observer August 08, 2012 12:21 pm


IMBLER — A pair of unofficial time capsules were opened Monday in Imbler.

Two old locker rooms, possibly last used when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, were dug up under the Wade Hall gym as demolition of the old Imbler Elementary School buildings continued. The locker rooms had been almost inaccessible for more than five decades after construction work sealed off their entrances.  

An orange football helmet believed to be at least 60 years old was uncovered during demolition process. The well preserved sports artifact kicked off a buzz in Imbler.

“People are asking me, ‘Have you seen it? It’s pretty cool,’’ said Imbler School District Superintendent Doug Hislop.

The helmet surfaced as an employee for a subcontractor was operating a backhoe digging up the old locker rooms. Apparently sensing that history was calling, the operator stopped the backhoe and picked up the football helmet. 

“It’s amazing that he saw it. It could easily have been lost,’’ said Mych Wagner, who works for Alpine Abatement of Tumalo, which is removing hazardous materials from the buildings of the old Imbler Elementary School. Rod Anderson Construction of Pendleton is doing the demolition work.

The helmet, which has a large I on it, is now on display in Imbler High School next to an old megaphone. 

The helmet is plastic, meaning it dates back no further than seven decades ago. Plastic helmets were first made in 1939, according to the website www.timetoast.com. 

The helmet does not have a chinstrap or a face mask. Face masks were not a common accessory on football helmets until the 1950s.

A concrete wall in one of the locker rooms was still visible Tuesday morning. A portion of it had names and dates. One wall has the apparent name of a student and the year 1974. Hislop said the individual probably crawled into the locker room without permission. 

Most of the floor of the Wade Hall gym is now torn out. Words stamped on the bottom of its floor indicate that its wood came from Mobile River, Ala. 

Wade Hall, built in the late 1920s, is one of three elementary buildings being torn down. The others are its main building, constructed a century ago, and its east wing classroom building, built in the early 1950s. All will be replaced by Imbler Elementary School’s new $4 million building, the construction of which was recently completed. Materials were moved into it from the buildings of the old school on July 20.

 Hislop hopes that demotion of the old Imbler Elementary buildings can be completed before classes start Aug. 27.