Hello Portland, my name is Kevin-Michael Moore and someday I’ll explain the hyphen. I’m an east county boy, raised in Rockwood. A Reynolds Lancer ’78-’82. My Reynolds school was where the Junior High is now on 201st and Halsey, before the Reynolds/ Columbia merger in ’89-’90. Yes, I’ve dated myself.
It’s May 1979. I had just closed my first play, “The Birds” by Aristophanes. I was into Blue Oyster Cult and Blue Oyster Cult only and I have a big game of Dungeons and Dragons waiting for me after school.
It’s seventh period, algebra with Mr. Erdahl (sp.) It’s hot and I hate math (still do). Halfway through class the fire bell rings. Mr. E stops us all in collective Pavlovian retreat by saying something like, “Everyone please sit back down, this is just a drill and I will finish what I’m saying before you all file out.” Mr. E then continues to lecture on for about forty-five seconds or so, until some kid in the back (I think his name was Steve C. but I may be wrong) raises his hand says, in a nasally prepubescent voice, “ Mr. Erdahl—Mr. Eeerrrdahl, there’s black smoke in the hall.”
Appropriate unnecessary panic ensues. One kid, (I think his name was Steve C., but I may be wrong) just could not let the opportunity pass him by and picked up a chair and broke out the window, “so we could escape”. The rest of the class exited through the door at the end of the hallway, our safety twelve feet away.
A couple of buddies and I walked up to 7-11 singing “I’m Burnin’, I’m burnin’ I’m burnin’ for you!” With big gulps in hand (a new thing at the time), we sat across the street and played Dungeons and Dragons as we watched our school burn down.
The fire was said to have started in the gym mat room; a couple of kids smoking. Once the fire started there was no way to put it out. Because, as one fireman was quoted, ‘the mat material just liquefies like rubber’. The fire was so hot that it boiled all of the water out of the swimming pool and melted the mortar holding the bricks of the three story gymnasium.
I remember, (and this is for all of the nerds out there that get it) I rolled a “ONE” just before we watched the gym wall collapse, so, I blame myself.