Old Wilson gym gone, but not forgotten

By: Robin Beal Email
By: Robin Beal Email

WILSON, Okla. -- After seven decades of history, long-time residents of Wilson are in shock after the beloved old Wilson High School gymnasium was gutted by fire Tuesday night.

The "Margie Garrett Old Gym" is a Wilson institution, a place where people in that tight-knit community have gathered for special occasions for years. Tonight, it is no more.

You could call Margie Garrett an authority on the old gymnasium. Her name is on the sign. At 77 years old, Garrett is a mother of seven and a 1948 Wilson high school graduate.

Now that sign is in her front yard after fire ravaged the historic old building Tuesday night.

"There’s a lot that went on in that old gym...sock hops... and so forth, so I know it's going to be missed but you know sometimes something like this has to happen to let people open their eyes where they'd see that they could do more to help," Margie says.

Few have done more to help than Ms. Garrett, who has always been active in the community. After working at the school for 27 years, Margie was always looking out for the building and its history by spearheading restoration efforts from paint and varnish to organizing events.

This charming lady painted more than just the inside of an old gym, she painted a picture for us of what used to be.

"Old memories I have of being young, of being able to run up and down bleachers, dance, and sing. I was a cheerleader in school. I loved being a cheerleader. We had pep rallies there in the gym, and of course all the boys and girls were claiming this one and that one. Those memories happen a lot around the gym. I just got a lot of memories…fond memories," Margie says.

Ms. Garrett walked across the gym’s stage to receive her diploma, a stage that is no longer there.

When asked about her favorite memory of the grand old bricks, she answered quickly without hesitation was watching her kids play basketball on the grand old hardwood.

There is still no word on what caused the fire. That is being investigated.

The mood around town was quiet Wednesday as the community is coping with the loss of a piece of their history.

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