It had one bell that you had to ring with a real rope, and if you were small, a first grader, you had to jump onto the rope and hang your whole body on it and feel the rope descend slowly until the bell rang once, and then jump off. Often the bell would get stuck, turned over, and one of the raw older boys who was already a car thief would have to go up into the tower and turn the bell over with his own great hands. Usually the boy would refuse to come down from the tower, and since he was older and fiercer than the others, and since his teachers were all women whose eyes trotted back and forth, he could stay up there all day. There was a rumor among us that at night these women turned the schoolhouse into a brothel, where workingmen came and drank. Each day I would look up at my teacher and imagine her secret life, her dress with the orchid print and the brittle 78 records she would play, afternoons, drinking brandy maybe, to get into the mood.  end