“School bells are ringing loud and clear; vacation’s over, school is here.” 

The weather is perfect. The temperature is 70°. The morning is clear with a bright sun and a Crayola aquamarine colored sky. The breeze is ever so slight. It is a day to savor.

When I was a kid, the first of August was the beginning of the end. School was no longer inching closer. It was roaring towards us at a rapid speed. School clothes shopping was the first reminder of what was coming. My mother brought all four of us to the stores, but they were mostly quick stops. We didn’t need much. First was the shoe store. My feet got measured, and I got to see the bones of my feet in the x-ray machine. My mother picked sturdy shoes hoping they’re last all year. They never did. The next stop was for school uniforms, for a new blue skirt, white blouses and an ugly blue string tie. My mother bought the rest without us, the socks and underwear.

My favorite stop, the longest stop, was at Woolworth’s for school supplies. I got to pick what I wanted. I spend time checking out all the pencil cases. I wanted the perfect case. It was choosing the decorated top that was important because the cases were pretty much all the same. They were made of heavy cardboard and you slid out the holder. Inside were always pencils, an eraser, a six inch ruler and a compass and sometimes small colored pencils and some scissors. I never had any idea what the compass was for except to draw lines and semicircles. The next, the most important piece of going back to school, was the new lunchbox. When I was young, I chose lunch boxes with characters like Annie Oakley or Roy Rogers. I still have one with the Mickey Mouse Club on the top, but when I was older, I wanted designs. In the fourth grade it was a black and red tartan plaid design. My mother only filled the thermos on really cold winter days when she’d give us soup, usually chicken noodle. She always put in a few Saltines. By the end of the school year my lunchbox was usually the worst for wear. It had a few dents and a bit of rust inside, but, regardless, its usefulness continued. It became the repository for crayon stubs. Now, I use a cigar case. Things change but not by much.

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2 Comments on ““School bells are ringing loud and clear; vacation’s over, school is here.” ”

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    I remember going back to school. My mother would take us to buy new clothes. In Dallas the standard boy’s back to school uniform was white tee shirts with blue jeans. I always liked the ‘Lee’ brand because they had a leather patch on the waistband. The patch had the letters ‘Lee’ branded into the leather patch. I could thread my belt through the patch along with the other belt loops. I also wore Keds tennis shoes. I liked the black high top tennis shoes.

    When I moved to NYC it was a genuine shock. Boys in the eighth grade were expected to wear dress slacks and leather dress shoes. Additionally, I had to wear a shirt with a collar so I could wear a tie. To this day I hate ties. I have no idea why they prohibited dungarees, sneakers, and tee shirts. My cousin had to translate the meaning of the words dungarees and sneakers. 🙂 When I got to High School, the ties went away but the prohibition of blue jeans and tennis shoes continued. That’s when the NYC public schools had both dress and academic standards. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Here, when I was in high school, girls wore skirts and dresses and boys had to wear shirts with collars and pants, not jeans. My brother got sent home from school because he wore a sweater with no collared shirt underneath. He knew the rules but didn’t care.

      There was even a dress code when I was in college, but it disappeared during the winter of my sophomore year. It was so cold that we were told we could wear pants. Once there, the college couldn’t go back to forcing dresses.

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