Royal Oaks gym -- home of sock hops and Knights' basketball.
Inside the old gym, now home to many birds.
The pictures are from a visit to Madrid a few years back when I was the guest of one of the hospitals there. They graciously put me up in a hotel way outside Plaza Castilla. I got these weird feelings as we drove out the superhigh way towards Royal Oaks that night. The area is built up and the memory of the barren fields on the way out to the housing area were a thing of the past. The next afternoon I had some time on my hands and I went out walking to see if I could find the housing area. What had they done with it? Was there anything left? As I crossed over the super highway and went around a curve of thick cypress trees, the first of those quadirplex houses came into view. Along with it also came the rush of the memories of the bus rides out to the gym, the b-ball games, the sock hops, that first dance with a sweetheart... As I walked down the gradual sloping sidwalks it was clear these houses were all vacated but open. I got to a canteen/store where some security guards were getting ready for dinner and learned from them that no americans had lived there since desert storm. We apparently still "own" the property and it is waiting for those lucky dependents in case something heats up with the wacky-Iraqi again. I wondered who's making the money off this place...are our tax dollars being used for this? That kinda pissed me off, but then a lot of the defense waste does too. I can tell you this property sits in the heart of the northern Madrid expansion and must be worth millions. Could be interesting to ask a congressman about it.... The pool where Gus Ciano and I took the lifeguard course is still there but the trees are now so big and the hedges so thick I could not get a glimpse of the pool. At the bottom of the hill were some fairly new tennis courts, an old meeting building that housed the snack bar, and the gym. There were stray dogs wandering around. The snack bar building was pretty wrecked and tattered evagalistic literature from a past Sunday sermon strewn about. The gym was falling apart with birds buzzing around in the rafters. Why couldn't we make it into a community center for the the local children; what a waste! In one picture the admonishments written on the wall were so classic I had to record them. I left on foot; there were no cars, no people, and no noise. Tyvin Rich