Buy a little bit of OP School

For those people who just can't quite let go of the old Ocean Park Elementary School, Rudolfo Bautista has just the thing: Tiny pieces of their alma mater.

LONG BEACH - Would you want to buy the old Ocean Park School for 10 bucks? How about just a piece of it?

Local businessman Rudolfo Bautista thought that some people might as he drove past the deconstructed school site a few weeks ago. It was then that he conceived an idea to help memorialize the old building.

He walked up and asked the foreman on-site what they would be doing with the wood that he saw piled up everywhere and was told that the best pieces would be recycled and the rest sent to the dump. So he asked if he could have some for his idea.

"I explained I wanted to create something to give to people, to remember this building, its history," he said. "I got a pile of it. Not a lot, just a bunch of it."

The pile of siding boards filled up half of his truck's bed, he said. His plan is to cut 1-inch square pieces of the wood and attach them to certificates which will commemorate the building. He is planning to sell the items for $12.95, but said that to get things started he would sell them for $9.95, with $2 from each sale going to the school.

Bautista said that the majority of the wood is white-painted exterior siding from the southeast corner of the building, although there is some interior siding as well. Bautista offered to pay the foreman from R. B. and G. Construction, LLC. for the wood, but he simply gave it to him.

"He told me he was just coming into town and so I gave him a card for a lunch," said Bautista, who owns the Lightship Restaurant.

Though he had never been in the old school building prior to its deconstruction last month, Bautista saw the significance that it had in the community. He said he went to the library and looked up some of its history, even reading a journal by one of the first teachers.

"Everybody talked about how the school was and so maybe if I can do something where people can really keep it in their home, they will still remember the old school," he said.

Ocean Beach School District Board of Directors Chairman Ed Guelfi said that once they signed the contract with the construction company, all the wood became theirs to do with as they wished.

"It's up to the contractor to do with it what they want, including the salvage of lumber," he said. "If he's (Bautista) going to make a donation to the school, that's great."

Guelfi added that prior to the building coming down, the district had a large chunk of the beautiful old gym floor removed, which the vocational education department at the high school plans to use to make memorabilia as well.

Bautista said he was still working on the final touches of the certificates early in this week, which he said should be available in a few days. For more information about the souvenirs, you can contact Bautista at 642-3252.

"It's good for the community to have a new school, but it's also good to have a memory of the old one."

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