Friday, September 6, 2013

Back To School With Random 5 Friday

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Fall is in the air in the Black Forest of Germany

Fall is so quickly blowing in. During the day it may be almost 90˚, but I take my dog out at night and I see dried leaves curled on the sidewalk and the air feels like I should build a bonfire. Soup weather is quickly approaching. I need to find some Jonathon apples and make my first pie or apple crisp of the season. Of all the signs of fall, none signal it more than the march of children back to school.

And so as part of Random 5 Friday I offer five memories of starting school each September when I was young.

1) Mom took us to The Model, a clothes shop in downtown Kirkwood. This was before shopping malls, or boutiques, or national chains. We got to pick out our first-day-of-school dress – always a dress per 1960’s dress codes – and our saddle shoes, sometimes black and white, sometimes tone on tone. My oldest sister recently told me that she had found out at some point after our mom had died that Grandma always paid for our shoes. With four girls in the family, paying for so many shoes a year was an issue. Grandma paid for a pair of school shoes and a pair of Keds for summer. If we were good and patient while all four of us tried on the clothes, sometimes Mom would take us to The Velvet Freeze ice cream shop across the street for a scoop of the world’s best ice cream.

2) We walked to school. There were no buses except for students who lived on the far edges of the suburban community. So all the kids on our cul-de-sac gathered by 8 a.m. in the morning and walked together, down Wilson then half a mile straight uphill on Simmons then right on Peeke to cross at the crosswalk on Geyer guarded by Pete, the retired policeman. He lived on Evans, across from my Brownie leader, who held meetings on Tuesdays. And we reversed it on the way home after a quick stop at the gas station across the street to buy some Bazooka gum. Often I walked alone because I dawdled or because I had Brownies. We only got a ride if it rained hard. Not even in the cold winter months. We didn’t live in a world of “stranger danger” and “Amber Alerts,” unlike now when parents are buying GPS trackers for their kids, anticipating every possible horror.

3) The best part of starting the school year for me was buying the supplies. Such a cornucopia of folder and notebook choices! Even down to the small spiral assignment notebook. Oh, the colors and themes. The perfect color for each subject. And the excitement when I finally was allowed to switch from wide-ruled to college-ruled. From fat #2 pencils to thin ones – even to mechanical ones in high school. And then blue Bic pens. I never have outgrown my obsession with just the right notebook. I will buy them now assuming before I die I will have filled them all with writing. And I’ve started buying even more when I’m in France because, well, they have different kinds.

When I started back to school to earn my MFA this year, I stocked up on notebooks for writing, found my best pens (2 – one in purse, one by computer), and wandered the aisles of Office Depot hoping I would spot some special school paraphernalia that I absolutely had to have. This go-round for my education, though, it’s just going to involve taking my student ID to the Apple store and getting a new computer. Not half as exciting as new notebooks.

4) The buying of the metal lunchbox (with matching thermos, of course) took more mental space than anything else I ever did in grade school. I’m pretty sure of it. I gravitated toward animal themes over teen heartthrob themes.

5) We actually carried everything to school each day. Like, in our hands, unless we rode our bike, at which point we put stuff in the metal basket on the handlebars. We didn’t carry it in a car, or in a backpack, or on a computer. We carried actual stuff in our actual hands and shifted the books from side to side in response to that biting ache that came from keeping the wrist bent just so and arm straight to hold it all tight against your body to keep it from tumbling to the ground. Which it did on several occasions, so you hoped that you were with friends who would help you chase down handouts, permission slips, and homework that needed signing as it blew down the sidewalk and into the street.

Most schools around here start long before Labor Day now. However, for me it’s the early part of September that always brings out the nostalgia. It also is my emotional New Year’s Day. Perhaps that seasonal cycle became so deeply ingrained because I also taught school for so long. So all I want to say today is Happy New Year!

The tiny notebooks I carry in my purse on a daily basis for writing ideas, taking notes at the doctor's, or jotting down the name of a contractor someone recommends. The Moleskine notebooks are for travel because they're lightweight and flexible. The larger Mead are for writing at my desk.
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What memories do you have about the start of school for you as a child or when you were a parent sending your own children off to school. Share them with us in the comments box.

And you can find other wonderful Random 5 Friday writing here.


Rose said...

Oh, wow, I walked to school, too...down a railroad for 2/3's or 3'4s of a mile, then, a couple blocks to grade school. In high school, I still walked that same distance, only to catch a bus and travel a few miles to the high school.

I still love paper and pens and pencils...searching for that perfect paper...paper that has lighter colored lines on it and feels oh, so smooth when writing on it.

Nancy said...

We grew up in the same era Julie -- and I so enjoyed reading your school memories -- so much like mine. Only my mom made our first-day-of-school dresses. I had a Charlie Brown lunchbox and I can just smell the bologna sandwich now -- and maybe a Hostess cupcake. Best lunch ever.

Thanks so much for sharing your memories at R5F. Such a pleasure to read.

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for reading, and I never ate bologna although my sisters did. Couldn't stand it, so it was Welch's grape jelly on white bread for me (couldn't stand peanut butter either)

Cheryl @ TFD said...

My mother made a lot of my clothes when I was a youngster. A lot of full skirts and tops to match. The skirts were pretty easy to make, just gather the material on the waistband. The hardest part probably was the hemming of that full skirt!

We carried our lunch and it was usually a bologna sandwich with chips and a banana or apple and a Twinkie or something sweet. Once in a while, we would get a piece of chicken. Nothing was refrigerated but we never got food poisoning!

Muriel said...

For me, the best part of school was the little snack that my mum was giving me at the end of the day. Come to think of it, I haven't changed much.

Ewa said...

I love your notebooks....Sort of an addiction to me! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sharon Wagner said...

My parents walked to school. If I would have had to walk to school I probably would have ended up at the north pole. I hated school!

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