Monday, August 30, 2021

Back to School

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My little granddaughter started kindergarten last week. Oh, my, what a rite of passage that is! Do you remember your very first day of school? For me it was first grade, as we didn't have public kindergarten in my town in those days. I was an anxious kid anyway, so I was terrified. But it was exciting, too, and the most exciting part was getting school supplies. Number two pencils. Ruler. Scissors with blunt tips. Elmer's Glue and a box of crayons with that lovely waxy smell. Big Chief tablets and colored construction paper. A pencil case, oh joy, and art gum erasers. And last but not least, the lunchbox! (Branding was already underway.) We were ready to conquer the world!

 

 

Wren's school supply list was a lot more complicated, and her lunch box is a bento box, not a metal one with The Flintstones. But I'm sure she felt the same sense of promise and adventure, and I"m convinced that geeky kids who love school supplies never grow out of it. Some of us may even have grown up to be writers.


What about you, REDS? Any first day of school recollections? And what was your favorite part of the school supplies?


JENN McKINLAY: Fall was always my favorite season growing up in New England, because even though I was no scholar, I LOVED the social aspect of school. Uber extrovert - that’s me. School supplies are awesome! I still love buying a fresh clean notebook to jot down ideas and I love pencils and erasers. I was a weirdo when it came to the lunchbox, however. I passed over the Scooby Doo and Wonder Woman plastic boxes in favor of a metal red plaid lunch box. I still love plaid and I would still love that lunchbox if i had it. 

 

DEBS: I love plaid, too, Jenn, and would have coveted that lunch box. I saw one just like you described on Pinterest--maybe you could find one! 



HALLIE EPHRON: Oh my goodness do I remember the annual visit to the stationery store - an extinct creature today? Or Woolworths. See extinct. Buying such useful items as reinforcements. To be sure those precious pages would never come loose from my notebook. 


And that first day coming home after school making subject labels for the notebook dividers. Though I don’t think lunchboxes had been invented yet (no memory of anybody having book bags or backpacks, either), or at least I never had one. Just brought my lunch in a paper bag and bought milk (chocolate please) at school. 


The big deal for me was what to wear. Usually it was a plaid pleated skirt and white blouse (tucked in, of course) and shoes, oh the shoes had to be black flats or penny loafers with white socks. Oh, and where to sit. My favored spot , second row from the left, third seat back.

 

DEBS: Woolworth, Hallie! And we had M. E. Moses Five and Dime here in Texas, too. And as for the clothes, here's a photo I found of a class in 1959--

 


 Look at the shoes, and the dresses! And here's Wren's classroom on her first day--

 


I would certainly choose the modern classroom! And the clothes! Wren is wearing jeans and tennis shoes.


RHYS BOWEN: having grown up in England I never experienced the joys of shopping for school supplies or new clothes. Uniforms. And the school supplied all notebooks etc. And we ate in the dining hall   But Hallie reminded me of arriving early that first day to make sure I got the best seat. Second from the back, row beside the window! I could look out AND it was beside the radiator! ( my school was freezing cold). 

 

I remember being excited each year because each year came with more privileges: this table at lunch, use this play area etc until one day I was a prefect with a study. Privacy. Brilliant.

 

DEBS: So interesting, Rhys, and so different.


LUCY BURDETTE: Oh I loved school and I loved going back to school every year. Like you Debs, I was an anxious girl, not an outgoing socialite like our Jenn! So I’m sure I was nervous too, but I only remember the excitement of the teacher assignments. Did we get someone whom everyone loved? That’s what I mostly remember. And I can remember some cute dresses like a dropped waist brown plaid dress with a white collar, that I’d still love today LOL. There was some angst my first year because my parents wanted to be sure that I knew how to spell my name. So either it had to be Bobbie, which was easier but not very accurate, or learn how to spell Roberta. I always had my older sister Sue on the bus with me, so I’m sure that helped all along the way. Our grandchildren seem to love nursery school and pre-K, so that is great news. It would be hard to know how to help a child who did not like school!

 

And PS, I suspect my seat was always up front because I couldn’t see very well. I think I finally got my glasses in fifth grade and suddenly things were much clearer!

 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I had a lot of first-day-at-the-new-school moments, since we were in the military and moved around a lot from post to post. I think I really began to enjoy the start of the school year after we got out - I only went to two high schools, the last for three years, so I felt I belonged. 

 

My sister and I always got new outfits as teens, and I can remember spending what feels retrospectively like weeks going from sale to sale in August. My mother had a set budget, and the more things you could find that had been marked down, the more shirts/shoes/sweaters you could have! Like everyone else, I still love the new school supplies - paper and notebooks and organizers and pencils and pens. Honestly, September feels as much like a fresh start as January does.  

 

Oh, and Rhys, I'm sorry you didn't get the fun of new clothes, but as the mother of three kids who went to parochial schools, I say, "Thank God for uniforms!" They make it so easy for parents... 


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:I loved going back to school. With three ring binders, and yes, reinforcements which you had to lick, and I’m not quite sure why they mattered, but it seemed so organized. What to wear, yikes, so critical, I remember in eighth grade or so...a black and white wool houndstooth skirt and a red crewneck sweater,which looked great, but the first day of school it was like, 80 degrees and I insisted on wearing it anyway. Oh, and whether your tennis shoes had to be shoe-polished white or completely scuffy--the cool people decided that, and we all followed. Same with whether you put a penny or a dime in your loafers--one way was acceptable, the other was a signal that you were out of it.

 

Then there was the first day when I was almost late because the night before, our cat Mrs. Purdy had kittens in my closet.

 

And sign of the horrible times, my grandson had his first day at college Friday, and turned out his roommate was NOT VACCINATED! His parents went politely nuts, and he got moved. (And yes, the school has a vaccine mandate.)

 

DEBS: Oh, Hank, that's terrible. But at least his school has a mask mandate. Wren's does not, and she is the only child in her class (and one of the few kids in her school) wearing one. Teacher is not masked either. 

 

A last hug from Mom on Wren's first day!
 

READERS, what are your first day of school memories? And are you still school supply geeks?

100 comments:

  1. Wren is adorable!

    Pencils! I still love pencils and only grudgingly use a pen when forced into it . . . .
    Notebooks, paper . . . We had lunch at school, so no lunchbox, either.

    I liked going to school, but we always seemed to sit alphabetically . . . sometimes I’d always get moved up to the front because I couldn’t see the chalkboard . . . but alphabetical seating worked out well in Latin class because Jean and I sat right next to each other. Usually, I was happy to hide out in the back of the room [despite not being able to see the chalkboard] . . . I wasn’t then and still am not particularly outgoing . . . .

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    1. Were you and Jean put in separate classes, Joan?

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    2. Most of the time we were separated . . . it was widely believed that it was "better" to separate twins, but no one ever asked us how we felt about it [and we weren't happy about being separated] . . . .
      And since there was only one Latin class, there were no options and we were [happily] together.

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    3. And appropriate, too, Joan - I recall some of the cast of characters in my kids' Latin textbook described as "Sylvius et Sextus gemelli sunt."

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  2. Oh, I loved buying school supplies and the start of school. And, when the weather cooled off in the fall, wearing new sweaters and skirts (in junior high and high school). I was just talking to my husband today about how girls had to wear dresses to school, and when I was in elementary school, we girls wore corduroy pants under our dresses in the winter to get to school, but we took them off in the cloak room when we got to school.

    My first day of school was kindergarten in my basement. My mother taught kindergarten, which was privately run then, in our basement, so I didn't have far to go. Of course, I did learn an important lesson about having my mother as a teacher. I guess I thought I could bamboozle her when I was sick one time, and my mother set me up in the living room on the couch with the TV. So, not long after that, I pretended to be sick, but my mother wasn't fooled. Instead of getting to watch TV, my mother told me I should stay in bed for the day. What? No TV? I got well rather quickly and didn't try that stunt again. Oh, and I was one of those kids who liked sitting up front or close to the front. I either must have thought I was going to miss something if I wasn't up front, or I liked to be called on to read or answer a question, all of which was true.

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    1. We walked to school, Kathy, so we wore trousers under our skirts that had to be removed immediately upon arrival. I also remember coat, hat, and legging sets. I know I had one in green and the leggings had little stirrups under the arches so they stayed down in your boots.

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    2. Your mother had you pegged, Kathy! I didn't walk to school in first grade, it was too far. But the next year they'd built a school that was closer so I walked unless the weather was too bad. I guess it was never cold enough for trousers under our dresses, though.

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  3. I am still mildly convinced that the new year begins in September. Made sense to me for the first 18 years of my life! I loved shopping for school supplies, still do. Set me loose in a stationery store and I am in heaven. Still buy and use fountain pens and my office is adorned with multiple notebooks. So funny about reinforcements. I tracked down some and bought them a few months ago. I keep personal recipes and book bibles in three ring binders and needed some. I attended parochial schools so uniforms solved the clothing problems. Our biggest quandry was figuring out how high we could roll our uniform skirts without getting caught!

    Wren looks adorable, Deborah. So sad that there is no mask mandate! Hank, so glad your grandson was able to change roommates.

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    1. Oooo! Kait! Another fountain pen aficionado! What's your favorite, go-to pen right now, and what color inks do you prefer? (Because I am both geeky and nosy.) My current favorite is an Edison fine point with Diamine Sherwood Forest ink. Green, of course, to match the green of the pen.

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    2. I almost posted a photo of my current replacement for "back to school" supplies. I've been collecting Benu fountain pens during the pandemic and now have four of them. I love lining them up on my desk just because they are so pretty. And lately I have been on a quest for the perfect turquoise ink.

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  4. I'm with Jenn on the extravert thing - I loved going back to see my friends and make new ones. I had the red plaid lunchbox, too. New shoes, a new dress (sewn by my mother). A pear in my lunchbox, which still tastes like fall to me, and a sandwich I made myself (peanut butter with lettuce...).

    I don't remember buying school supplies until junior high - I think the school furnished them in elementary school. But in junior high we bought Peechee folders, noe for each subject - anybody remember those? And the girls carried them in a basket with handles like a briefcase.

    Going to school in Texas has to be fraught. Glad Wren is wearing a mask!

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    1. My sister had that plaid lunchbox, Edith. And it was crisp, tart, Jonathan apples for my first taste of fall.

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    2. Edith, my mother used to sew beautiful clothing for me - I don't think I ever bought a skirt all through my school years. I remember a VERY cool 1970's skirt and vest combo that she made in several different fabrics.

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  5. I don't really recall much about the first day of school for much of my school days. I remember the back to school shopping, which I typically hated. The one first day I remember the most was I think sophomore year of high school. We were only going to be there for 3 hours so I didn't bother to dress in any of the new clothes. (Even then, I didn't give a crap about what people thought of me) And yet people acted liked I'd walked in a trash bag or nude or something. Why waste new clothes on a half day was my reaction.

    I remember the quest for the Trapper Keeper folders that were Cabbage Patch Kid popular at one point when I was growing up. Beyond that, I don't think school supplies were a big deal. You got what you needed and moved on with life. In elementary school, the lunch box was a big deal though. I had various branded lunch boxes over those years. Hard to believe that they are such a valued collectible now, but you go look on eBay and there's a thriving market for vintage branded lunch boxes.

    Nowadays I wouldn't want to be a kid. The backpacks are bigger than you are and they have to complete a list of school supplies that is as long and complicated as if you were ordering parts for a nuclear missile.

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    1. You are so right about the size of today's backpacks, Jay. I live on a school route and I often wonder about how those tikes manage with their huge bags dragging them down...

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    2. I looked up a bunch of branded lunch boxes, Jay. Who'd have thought they'd be so collectible? But they mark a very specific era.

      And my daughter said Wren's school supply list was a nightmare, so complicated.

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    3. Amanda, I don't really see the kids waiting at the bus stop because I don't leave for work after they get picked up by the bus, so I can't tell you how weighed down they are here. But I'm sure they are.

      I think part of the reason the school supply list is so frelling long and complicated is the school has decided to place the burden of supplies on the parents rather than their own budgets. It's nuts to see what the schools expect the parents to buy sometimes.

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    4. And the teachers, too, Jay! Ross used to lay out several hundred dollars every year on supplies for his "kiddos."

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  6. Oh, gosh, no masks? That makes me a nervous wreck, Debs. Bet Wren was excited about school, though.

    Yes, school supplies--but way, way fewer than my own kids always had to have. Their supply lists always said stuff like "New box of crayons/washable markers", and "a dozen new pencils, with child's name on". By the time the youngest moved out for good we had umpteen hundreds of perfectly good pencils with "Robin" and "Holly" painstakingly printed on the sides, and roughly a jillion dried out markers and partially used crayons. They also had to have folders and notebooks for each subject, with their names and subject on them, so they couldn't be used the next year, even if they only wrote on a few pages. I still have some of their grade school notebooks that I use, and the two younger girls are now 34 and 37.

    I always had a book bag, but we carried our lunches in brown paper bags, with baloney or ham salad sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. White milk was two cents at school, but it tasted awful (I think now it was 2%), so I begged an extra penny to get chocolate.

    We wore dresses; many of mine were so very like the first girl in the photo from 1959. Plaid, high-waisted, cotton, and with a prim little collar. My mother had to iron them, can you imagine? We only wore them for school, and as soon as we got home we had to change into play clothes. In sixth or seventh grade my mother gave me my October birthday gift, a beautiful royal blue wool skirt. Which she accidentally washed and it shrunk. I mourned it for years. In high school we wore uniforms: Black Watch plaid wool pleated skirts with about three yards of material. HOT in early fall and late spring.

    And yes, this is the true beginning of the year, obviously.

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    1. I'm a fan of planners, and I love that you can get them by the calendar year or the academic year. The new season starts in the fall for performing arts groups, too.

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    2. September always feels like the beginning of the year to me.

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    3. Karen, I either bought lunch at school or brought it from home.

      However, my favorite year of buying lunch at school was in fourth grade. I attended St. Joseph's in Fairhaven, MA. And they didn't have a cafeteria. So every day for lunch you had a choice of a particular food from BURGER CHEF!!!!

      This was a dream come true for me let me tell you. One day was hamburgers, another day was cheeseburgers, I think there was a day with hot dogs. Friday's was a fish sandwich and every day you could order french fries! And at 25 cents a bag, a buck got you FOUR BAGS OF FRENCH FRIES! I was pretty sure that was heaven for me.

      And think about it, imagine being fed fast food for lunch now? Governments would freak the hell out. Back then, it was just what was done at the school. And obviously it made quite the impression on me both mentally and physically (my waistline, lol).

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    4. Jay, there was no cafeteria at my kids' elementary parochial school, but on Fridays, they ordered pizzas from the local pizza place next door. You had to order ahead - one slice or two, cheese or pepperoni. It was the undisputed highlight of the week for my kids, and a nice break for the lunch maker and packer (me.)

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    5. That's pretty cool Julia, but I still think Burger Chef tops the incredible lunch option pyramid for a 4th grader in the early 80's. :D

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    6. When my two youngest were in school there was pizza once a week, and at the high school there was some kind of pizza every day, and french fries. I volunteered in the college/career/counseling center for three years, and the last year all the materials moved out of an annex in the library to the counseling office itself. Several times students would come in and eat their lunches in the office, and more than once I saw kids having nothing but a huge plateful of fries for a meal.

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  7. I loved going to school on the first day. Going shopping for school clothes. Getting school supplies (notebook, pencils, and crayons) back in the day the school supplied the other items we needed. Meeting new friends outside and waiting to march into the school. We sat alphabetically and I couldn't wait for the teacher to write her name on the board because that meant, classes started. We always stood, placed our hands over our heart, faced the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. That stopped when I was in ninth grade.

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    1. So much anticipation for all the things we were going to learn, Dru!

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  8. I began in first grade. My school was girls only run by nuns. I wore uniforms from first to eleventh grade.

    My school being many blocks away, my father showed me the way twice beforehand. I went by myself on the first day and was very anxious and shy but the nuns were very welcoming and It was finally a very good first day; so many thing to discover and to learn.
    We were placed by size and , being tall, I was in the back. I didn’t mind, I could watch everyone and everything.
    No lunchbox either because I went back to lunch at home.
    And as far as I remember, I brought a little envelope with money and the nuns supplied what was needed.
    So no school shopping. It is interesting to read your different experiences.

    I wish Wren the best for her first year.

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    1. Thank you, Danielle. I'm sure she's going to love school.

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  9. I love to read all of your memories of first school days. I wasn't even 5 yet on first day of school, kindergarten in the early 50's. I wore a prissy red plaid dress. My mother loved plaid, I didn't. I remember being upset about the dress. First day of school in first grade, I wore a brand new red plaid dress. We moved from the country to the suburbs when I was in 9th grade. First day of school I wore a full skirt in turquoise and white and a peasant blouse with a scoop neck. What a shock! I was the only girl dresses like that. The suburb uniform was button down collars and straight skirts. Holy mackerel! I remember the panic I felt. I did eventually make new friends and my high school memories are pretty good. I go to reunions.

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    1. Oh, the horror of wearing the wrong thing! I don't think I was ever quite right, but I went all the way through school with the same kids, so at least I knew who would be wearing the right thing...

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  10. Oddly, I don't remember my first day of kindergarten but I do remember registration for it, which was probably a few weeks before. We lived in the village so I walked to school, which I have no memories of at all, and it was only a half day. Then in the spring we moved to a house out of town and I would be riding the bus - no memory of that either - and staying in school for the entire day. And that meant a lunch box, which I remember very well going to the store to choose. Although there wasn't much choice, mine was navy blue with light gray sides. Only a year or 2 later my brother got a Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox.

    Girls always wore skirts or dresses. Pants were unheard of and no one had jeans, or dungarees as they might have been called then. In very cold weather I think we were allowed to wear pants or snowpants under our skirts but they had to be removed as soon as we entered the school building.

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  11. Good luck to Wren! May none of her tablemates eat paste (or is it glue sticks all around now?).

    One elementary school memory tops the others: my son was in the "busy boy" first-grade class with a boy-tolerant pro for a teacher. No desks, just "stations" around the perimeter of the room, lots of floor pillows, and reading group in the gazebo at one end of the room. Easily the happiest classroom I've ever experienced.

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    1. Both my sons had that teacher in first grade. Plus lots of trips outside to study nature. It was perfect.

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    2. How fabulous--and for girls, too!

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    3. Margaret, my kids had a wonderful 2nd grade teacher who started every day with a brisk march all around the school grounds. Perked up the ones whose engines hadn't quite started for the day and got the jitters out of the high-energy ones. She was a gem, and I used her name as the principal of the local high school in my series!

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    4. Perfect! I received a phone call telling me to exercise my son for half an hour every morning before he boarded the bus. We either jogged around the neighborhood or shot hoops in the snow.

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  12. OH, yes, wow, Judy--the unspoken dress codes! And woe to the one who didn't get the message--I mean, HOW did the message get transmitted? We had YEARS of grosgrain-ribbon trimmed cardigans in heather colors with matching a-line skirts. Round-collars blouses with circle pins. That was ALL you could wear.
    Seniors could wear tight skirts.

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    1. Those sweaters and skirts, Hank! My sisters and I sewed our own skirts, and with me and the skirt being short, I could make one out of half a yard of fabric.

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    2. "The unspoken dress code." Hank, the perfect description.

      I was determined to have a happier school experience in my new home than I'd had in elementary school in the little town where I really stuck out. So, we shopped for the appropriate clothes and soon enough I looked like I belonged. I hadn't yet thought that being an individual was something of value.

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    3. We always shopped for back to school clothes in August and early September (school in those day started after Labor Day, at least) but it wasn't cold enough for the wool skirts and cardigans until late October or early November. Of course we wore them anyway and itched like mad. I so remember the grosgrain-ribbon trimmed cardigans and the heather plaid A-line skirts, Hank!

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    4. It was rarely cold enough for them in southern California, Debs - and we wore them anyway. Also short-sleeved wool sweaters - wha?

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    5. Interesting what you wore to school. I grew up in California and we could wear whatever we wished only ruled by the weather. Summer here lasts until November, so we wore shorts and in the cooler months cords and jeans.

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    6. All school supplies were given by the schools. I bought pens and special ruled paper, but that was because I didn’t like what the school supplied.

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    7. Yes, individuality meant "uncool" back then--I'm sure it's different now! Maybe. In a way. And as for jeans, whoa, I'm not even sure there was such a thing. We were not allowed to wear pants, that's for sure.

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    8. Shopping for school clothes was fun, but since my birthday is the first week of October my mother always said they were my birthday gift. You can imagine how that bummed me out!

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    9. Right, Hank. No slacks for girls and the dress code was strict for boys, too. Shirts had to be tucked into their pants. No jeans or pants with patch pockets ( meaning sewn on back pockets like pockets on jeans.) We live near a high school and watching girls in short shorts headed to school still seems strange to me.

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  13. Oh, the memories! Almost brought me o tears. My first teacher, in Kindergarten, was Miss Perron. If i close my eyes I can still see her. K was only half a day so did not take lunch, when I started in Grade One, had to take it as we moved to another house and it was far (all of 3 blocks). Loved getting the notebooks, pencils and crayons and I had forgotten reinforcements. I can still taste the glue to put them on as we had to lick them. Also that pasty glue that I liked to eat. (Ugh) My lunch box had Roy Rogers on it as I was a fan and i remember being teased about it. Can't remember buying new clothes but am sure we did.

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    1. I would swear I had a Sky King lunchbox, but I couldn't find a photo on the vintage lunch box pages. Lots of Lone Ranger, though. I don't remember ever eating paste!

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    2. Donna, one of my lunch boxes, toward the end of 2nd grade, was the Dale Evan’s lunch box “more grownup” with square corners and a thin thermos than the Hopalong Cassidy with rounded corners and a stocky thermos. Not sure how accurate the memory, but it seems that every few weeks a new lunch box was needed as the thermos liner would break or I’d leave it on the playground or in the school bus. Thanks for the memories, All.

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    3. I had a Quick Draw McGraw lunchbox, which I liked until I saw my friend's pink, bejeweled, padded vinyl ballerina lunchbox. Dang! I was envious.

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    4. Somebody always had a better lunchbox!

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    5. I had a Roy Rogers lunch box too!

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  14. I looked forward to first day of school, at least for elementary school. The school district sent out lists of school supplies for each grade to the stores. We'd trek to Weingarten's grocery store and buy our supplies: Big Chief tablet, crayons, that lovely metal box of water colors, paste, pencils, colored paper, construction paper, and ink much later. The teachers always immediately confiscated the last three items. The paper went into her supply cabinet; one bottle of ink sat on her desk for refills. I had a plain red metal lunch box with thermos; my brother had a matching one in blue. Later we ditched them for brown bags. I almost always brought my lunch and maybe bought milk to go with it. I learned early on you do not eat an orange before drinking your milk. It was still hot in September here and I puzzled how Dick and Jane could wear sweaters on their first day of school. Various merchants supplied the school book covers for our books so covering our books was our first homework assignment. Now junior high and high school were a whole 'nother ball game!

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    1. OH! We didn't get to pick where we sat. It was almost always alphabetical.

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    2. Ours, too, Pat. Until a teacher figured out who couldn't see the board well, or who talked too much with their neighbors!

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    3. Yes, alphabetical, and I was always at the front. And I was always in trouble for daydreaming, LOL

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  15. My first day of school was first grade, no kindergarten in Kansas at that time. I think girls wore dresses, often home made. Except for pencils and a Big Chief tablet, supplies were provided by the school, as it should be. By the time they weren't, I recall getting the very best zipper notebook, yesterday's answer to today's backpacks. No lunch box. I had an hour and walked home for lunch. Those were the days, at least for some of us.

    Seating was always alphabetical, by first name. So I got the front row for 12 years!

    Most important this year at our house? Sgt. Pepper went off to residential obedience school last Monday. He was sporting a new red collar, which they took off him and handed back to us! He's doing fine but we are miserable, having to hold back each day from going to get him. But Lucy Roberta, guess what! He has a girlfriend, a little Havenese that he adores. See, I knew he and Lottie should meet!

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    1. What is he learning, Ann? And when will he come home?

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    2. He will learn absolute obedience. This means skidding to a stop on command, even when a rabbit goes by. Plus all the things he needs to be a take anywhere obedient boy. Will respond to hand signals as well as voice. He then should be able to pass the requirements for a therapy dog although I don’t think I’ll do that this time. Toby had this training and for a few years he carried a caseload of hospice clients, very fulfilling. This trainer is amazing. A dog whisperer type.

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    3. Oh, Ann, that sounds wonderful. You'll all be happier for it.

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  16. I was and still am a school-supply nerd. Love new pencils and notebooks!

    We lived in Germany for a stint and the first day of school was made special because every child received a Zuckertüte (sugar bag) filled with candy. I think it must have been given by the family, because I have memories of arriving at school with my satchel on my back and the Zuckertüte in my arms. Bribery, anyone!?!? But I loved the first day of school no matter which country we were living in (also Canada and then England). And I loved the front row. #nerd

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    1. What great experiences of the different countries, Amanda. I'll bet your German teachers loved dealing with sugar-hyped kids on that first day!

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    2. Amanda, I went to an English language school on the Army base, so I never got Zuckertüte, but I recall my mother giving me square, pressed, powdered sugar tablets left over from the weekend volksmarch for "energy." I guess we didn't know much about sugar back in the day.

      I also recall my German-made school bag; a rectangular plaid and leather thing that looked a bit like an attache case wedded to a backpack.

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    3. Amanda, this must be a poignant time for you, first fall with no back to school?

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  17. I loved school--and yes, fall still feels like the year is just beginning. My 8th grade teacher laughed at me--while she was talking to the class, I was zipping through the textbook.

    Deborah, prayers for Wren to stay safe. My nephew decided to keep his son home for the start of this year as the school district is not requiring masks nor does it look like they are practicing much in the way of social distancing. A very vocal minority who wanted kids in school with no restrictions and a receptive administration. Hard decisions for parents!

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    1. I have a friend who chose to be a single parent, and whose son is pretty much her whole world. She is terrified to be sending him off to school without a vaccine, although he does wear a mask. At least as long as she is watching. I know it drives her crazy not to be able to protect him as well as she'd like to.

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    2. Critical word there should be “minority”, but these days it seems the squeaky (shouting, fist waving) wheel gets the attention [Grrr]. All schools should require masks. Period!

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  18. The start of school was always a little fraught for me, mostly because my mother loved saddle shoes that she could tie up tightly so I couldn't kick them off. And I hated them. Ditto her preferred "pixie cut" (aka bowl cut) hairstyle for me. Once we got past all of that, we'd go shopping for those high-waisted, full-skirted dresses. My older sister always got several, but I usually only got one because there were all these "perfectly good" hand-me-downs I could wear. I finally won the shoes and hair battles in the third grade, when I got my first pair of penny loafers (my perpetually sweaty feet were in heaven!) and convinced my mom I could brush and braid my own hair if she'd let me grow it long. Oh, and in high school? I got elected to the student council and helped write the dress code to allow girls to wear pants to school. Victory was mine!

    These days I still love office supplies, and have a completely unnecessary cache of mechanical pencils which I only use on the newspaper's sudoku and crossword puzzles. I add to them whenever I can. The rest of the time, as noted above, I write with a fountain pen. Lately I've been excusing my habit by purchasing small-company-made pens (Edison, BENU, and an Esterbrook) from mom-and-pop pen stores. I'm not quite the ink enthusiast that Debs is, but I do have a good supply of blue, green, turquoise, and purple inks on hand for any occasion. Anybody else start school with a leaky Sheaffer pen and Peacock Blue ink?

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    1. I know I had a Waterman, with standard blue cartridges. But I must have had Sheaffer Peacock Blue ink at some point because I'm still searching for that perfect peacock blue!

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  19. I don't remember my very first day of school. But September was always exciting and stressful at the same time. I liked the academics - hated the social aspects because I was not a "cool kid" and boy, did they let me know it.

    Julia, uniforms, yes. So easy.

    I took my son back to college yesterday. If you were not vaccinated (or had an approved exception from the school), you didn't get your room key.

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    1. That's great to hear, Liz. I wish our public schools here were that smart.

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    2. Liz, the funny thing about not being one of the cool kids is that while they may have held me in disdain, the feeling was mutual.

      The high school principal opened up each year with a speech at an assembly. He pretty much said the same thing every year. So in senior year, when he got to the part where he said, "look to your left, look to your right. A lot of these people you will never see again after school". I'd had enough and said loudly enough to be heard by the room, "Good. I didn't want to know most of these idiots in the first place".

      Let's just say he wasn't happy with me.

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    3. Debs, he goes to a college in NY and they've taken everything very seriously. But I'm glad because it was so nice to move him in and go about campus unmasked (optional if you're vaccinated as long as rates stay low). He might have a normal year!

      Jay, LOL. My mother recorded my high school graduation. You see me coming back from the stage and receiving my diploma, when a hand reaches out and I high-five it. It was my father. "I'm outta here!"

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    4. Yes, but HOW MANY EXEMPTIONS?? The system has a huge and scary hole.

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    5. Liz, at my graduation, instead of a guest speaker giving the rah-rah speech, we got a guy who gave a speech that was an ad for the town's 350th anniversary. So I said out loud that we got an infomercial instead of a speech.

      When they dismissed us from the ceremonies, we were supposed to wait for the honor society kids to leave before we did. But we had enough of that crap so we got up and left. I walked to the back of the room where we had all assembled beforehand and walked right out the back door. I was GONE!

      Hank, the exemptions almost always seem to come down to "Wahhhh, I don't wanna!". If they don't have a REAL reason, they should be told...get it or get gone. PERIOD.

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    6. Hank, there are those who need exemptions: folks in cancer treatment, folks who are alive because they have transplanted organs. And even with covid-cynicism I have to believe these folks are being as safe as they can, living their lives as best they can, and grateful for those of us who can be vaccinated get vaccinated.

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    7. Absolutely. I understand those particular exemptions, of course. But if one of them is my college freshman's roommate, he should know that before everyone moves in, so he has a say in HIS life, just as they have a say in theirs.

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    8. All the schools in California have a mandatory mask mandate. All teachers and school employees must be vaccinated or their employment. will be terminated. Only medical exceptions, no religious exceptions.

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  20. Deborah,

    Speaking of lunchboxes, Maureen, who is the widow of my trivia team partner Brian (and a team member as well), is a collector. But with the passing of Brian, she's going through stuff to get rid of and it turns out she has a bunch of lunchboxes. I told her to go through and look it up on eBay to see if it would be worth it to list them for sale.

    I have a former player who is now a kindergarten teacher. Before her first year, she was asking people she knew for books that she could use for a classroom library. I didn't have any at the house but I went out and bought some new books instead. I also bought her some classroom supplies including crayons, kleenex (for the little snot factories...I mean students), aspirin (for her) and other necessities. I dropped them off to her mom's place and joked I left out buying her the alcohol nip bottles that she'd likely need on some days because I couldn't figure out how she could disguise them at school on the days when the kids made her need a drink. :D

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    1. One H.S. teacher entered the realm of notoriety because he kept a bottle of "cough medicine" on his desk and reached for it frequently.

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    2. That would've been a lightweight scandal compared to some of the stuff that happened when I was in school.

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    3. We had a ninth grade English teacher who just went missing one week in the fall. He was a kind of slimy, greasy guy, and after two weeks they hired the handsome young male substitute for the rest of the year. The first guy was found drunk in San Francisco!

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    4. Keep in mind eBay is not a good gage of value since it’s usually the seller’s dream sell price.

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    5. Rick, that is true but it does give at least some idea of what something might be going for. I use it as a baseline only, not the be all end all type of price.

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  21. Yay, Wren!!! How is she in school??? I feel like she was just born. Oy. I may have to look for that lunchbox, Debs!

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  22. I'm finally out of the school cycle. Having worked at a college for years (even in admin), I always felt that beginning of school pull. I just realized that colleges are starting up again, and it felt very strange to me to no longer have that as a cycle in my life.

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    1. Mark, you make me think of a long-time teacher who was a patron at the Very Small Library I volunteered at. She retired at one June and I say her when she came in to the library around this time of year.
      "How are you doing?" I asked.
      She looked a bit bemused. "This is the first time in thirty years I haven't spent this weekend stapling construction paper leaves to a bulletin board."

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  23. Finally back here after a week of being sick! I am gradually on the mend after a battle with a cold/fever.

    Barely remember my first day of school since I was going to pre-K right after my 2nd birthday. The school district at that time had a policy that if a child was born Deaf, they had to start school at 18 months (now it is 6 or 9 months). Since I lost my hearing before my 2nd birthday and my hearing test was right after my 2nd birthday, I had to start school. And I was NOT ready!

    Though I do not recall my first day of school, I have memories of getting ready for the school year. Yes, the year I went to Catholic school was when we wore green plaid skirts and a hunter green cardigan. Now I love the colors but when I was a kid, I got bored wearing the same thing every day. LOL. I agree that it is a good idea to have school uniforms for many reasons.

    Yes, I remember my 6th grade teacher telling us about getting school supplies. I learned about school supplies. Before that time, the schools always seemed to provide school supplies.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, my oldest daughter, who spent 12 years in Catholic school uniforms, won't even LOOK at anything plaid. She's happy to wear dresses, skirts, etc, but if it's in tartan, no way.

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    2. Julia,

      Believe it or not, I hated plaids at the age of 4. By the time I was in high school, all of the teen magazines showed plaid skirts as the IN thing to wear. I didn't really like plaids again until I was in college. I also love tartan since I am 1/4 Scottish.

      One of my classmates from Catholic school refuses to wear dresses. The school uniform was the only time in her life that she wore a skirt. After Catholic school, she never wore a dress again! Not even a skirt. Way more comfortable wearing pants. Even at her wedding, she wore pants!

      Diana

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  24. Think 1950, southern California. I was 5. Kindergarten was half day, a nap and milk break half way through, mid-morning. It was about 11 blocks, I walked to with older brother, my Mother came to walk me home.

    We moved, so starting 1st grade I rode the bus to the K through 8 elementary school. I liked buying school clothes, a new pair of Levi’s, new tennis shoes (black), a couple of new shirts (collar required), new belt (required). The only school supplies I remember my parents buying were Crayons, Big Chief tablets, pencils, notebooks, and one ball point pen. After about 2nd grade no more Crayons or Big Chief, just pencils (Ticonderoga brand #2) and notebooks. All other supplies were provided by the school. We were always seated alphabetically, so as an “R” I was towards the back, which was fine with me.

    I was in the same room all day, with one teacher, until 7th grade, when it was the teacher who changed rooms, not the kids. I didn’t go from classroom to classroom until high school (9th-12th grades). I don’t remember clothes being a big deal, all the guys wore jeans, shirts, tennis shoes (elementary school) or loafers (in high school). Girls had to wear dresses or skirts, no pants. There was a dress code, but as a guy it was just socks and belt required, along with a collar on the shirt. I think there was a length rule for skirts / dresses, at least knee length. Shorts were only allowed in gym class, which I didn’t take as I was on the swim team.

    The one thing I wish we’d had then is backpacks. Carrying books and notebooks and stuff in hand was a hassle.

    The K-8 had a cafeteria, so no lunch box for us. In high school I brown bagged it, not wanting to spend my meager allowance at the snack bar. I don’t remember the cafeteria food being very good.

    I really enjoyed reading all the comments today!

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  25. I loved all the stories but have been unable to post here today. This is a test.

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  26. 1. Pencil cases! We moved in first grade - form one end of state to other - and everyone seemed to have these cunning boxes, long and slim with real snaps to hold them shut, made just for pencils and crayons. I remember desperately wanting one. 2. Lunch boxes. Never had one. In those Boomer days, we all went home for lunch in elementary school, where our mothers could force us to eat healthy, well balanced meals. I ate a peanut butter sandwiches every day in junior high. But by then the "grown up" thing was to carry lunch in a brown paper lunch bag. 3. The "secret message" about what to wear? In high school, I finally figured out I needed to read Seventeen!

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  27. Hi, on my first day of school I went to Kindergarten andI cried because I wanted to sit by my friend of which our families and all the kids were friends with. Anyways my teacher did sit us together , we had 2 desks joined , so I was happy then. I do love looking and shopping for school supplies, I actually give my 2 grandchildren their catechism lessons here at my house, and have been doing it for the past 8 years, even if I didn't give them lessons I would still look and buy school supplies. Have a great week and stay safe. aliciabhaney(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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