Wednesday, August 17, 2016

School's in Session, Already!

I don't remember school starting so early in the past. We got out on Memorial Day and went back after Labor Day. And it was still too hot to be in school clothes without air conditioning. None of the schools had air conditioning then. [I'm old, remember.]

What has happened to summer? The summer break is so short now that I wonder how they have time for summer school for those who need/want it.

For that matter, what happened to school clothes? I see kids going to school in shorts and t-shirts. If a kid showed up in that when I was in school he'd be sent home immediately! I know that some schools have gone to uniforms, which I think is an excellent idea. No competition to have the newest fashion. It has been shown to reduce violence in schools, as well. Reduces distractions and sexualizing because the uniforms are less revealing. Families don't have to spend as much on the latest back-to-school fashions and the uniforms can be passed down when outgrown. Yeah, I know, the kids don't like them much, but they can dress to impress off campus.

Shoes were almost always needed to be new for school, as we outgrew them. And we didn't wear our school shoes to play in when we got home. We had old shoes until we wore them out. The problem was that our feet kept growing all year round!

Image result for saddle oxfords for women black and white I remember saddle oxfords being THE thing to wear in high school. And we had to keep them cleaned. So we had both black and white shoe polish. Gym shoes were required in high school. They were the old fashioned high tops and there weren't many varieties of styles like today. I remember the girls' were white and the boys' were black. No one competed to have the most popular style and they didn't cost anywhere near what they do now.

"Back in the day," as my grand-kids say, girls wore skirts and blouses or sweater sets in high school. Before high school we wore dresses. Jeans or slacks weren't allowed. Back then I had no sense of the expense being such a hardship. But looking back I realize that it must have been hard for my folks and most of the families in our neighborhood.

 Every year at the end of summer we went back-to-school shopping for clothes and school supplies. Are you aware that most families now spend over a hundred dollars for school supplies to start school each fall? That alone must be challenging for many families. I don't remember needing to replace more than just the paper, crayons, and pencils/pens each year. We usually took care of our binders, rulers, and pencil boxes so we could use them for more than one year. No one used backpacks, no one had calculators before high school, nor would they have been allowed to use them. And where I grew up the books were provided by the schools and we turned them in at the end of the school year to be used the next year by someone else. We'd have to pay a fine if they weren't returned or if they were in bad shape. We weren't supposed to write in them and didn't have highlighters.

I remember how uncomfortable the new clothes and shoes would be the first few weeks of school. My clothes were meant for colder weather and my shoes were not yet "broken in." The schools weren't air conditioned but they had large casement windows and sometimes caught a breeze if the hall door was open. I don't remember there being screens on the windows, either. But there might have been. I don't remember being bothered by flying insects in the classroom.

I always liked school. I loved to read and to learn things. I have always had a curious mind and liked new challenges - except for math. I've always had a problem with math. My brain just doesn't seem to work that way. I wonder, though, if I'd had better teachers, ones who could teach in more than one style, if I'd have loved math. I've never been one to click with rote memorization and that seemed to be the only style I was exposed to. I remember asking one of my high school math teachers why theorems were true. He got really frustrated with my why questions and finally told me not to ask why but to "just do it."  I seemed to ask why about a lot of things. And in other classes that was a good thing, it drew me forward to learn more. But not in math, at least not with Mr. Kessel!

In grade school I loved recess. We had a playground with swings, teeter-totter, basketball hoops, and a sliding board. We used to save the waxed paper from our lunch bags and ride down the metal sliding board on the waxed paper. It really made the board slippery! We'd go flying down. We played tag, played on the swings, played games like Upset the Fruit Basket, Red Rover [], Freeze Tag, Simon Says, Dodge Ball, A Tisket a Tasket, jump rope, hopscotch, Mother May I, just to name a few. We all looked forward to recess.

Nearly everyone carried their lunch to school. There were no cafeterias in grade school where I grew up. If you lived nearby you could walk home for lunch, and I did the first couple of grades. But my mom went to work when I was nine so I carried my lunch. I lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch for years. I still love peanut butter and jelly. There was no way to refrigerate our lunches, so our sandwich choices were limited. I remember what a big deal it was when I started carrying a thermos with milk or sometimes with soup. The problem was that I'd dropped my thermos too many times. They were glass inside and shattered when dropped. Having a lunchbox helped protect the thermos and by fourth grade nearly everyone had one. They were metal and some were more decorated than others. I remember having a red and black plaid one for a long time. One year I had a Hopalong Cassedy lunchbox and matching thermos. I was a big fan of his. []

Back then, when school didn't start until after Labor Day,summer still had a couple of weeks to go - to go barefoot, to go swimming, to go out and play. I'm sorry that the kids now are stuck indoors so early and the teachers have such short summer breaks to prepare for the school year.

What did you like best about summertime when you were a kid? What games did you play at recess? What do you remember about getting ready for school in the Fall? Did you like school? Who was your favorite teacher?


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  2. Great memories! I enjoyed your post as I remembered a good bit of my growing up. I also had the red/black plaid lunchbox. I LOVED AND LIVED ON peanut butter and jelly in school.....through college too....and it's even a nighttime snack every now and then. Such a comfort food item for me! It's like that steady friend that's always been there. And that preparation for the school year was my favorite time of the year. I loved going back to school more than the summer. New supplies, new clothes, new school year, new teacher. I used to get excited to see the classroom list posted just to see who was in my homeroom. Every school year, even now as I'm in my 50s, I feel like this time of year is my 'get back to business' time of year where I look back and if I haven't accomplished something by September, I'm trying to get caught up before the next year comes, because it's time to get back to business after the summer is over. It's like a second New Year's for me.
    Again, great post!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Glad to hear from a fellow P and J fan. I still love it, too.