Tuesday, August 5, 2008

School Daze

Teen Angel starts school tomorrow. Whew! Where did her summer vacation go? She worked during most of it, saving about $900 that she tucked away in her newly opened savings account. Good girl. She’ll be a sophomore this year, turning sixteen in December. I’ll soon be taking nitroglycerin for my pounding heart (and valium for my nerves). Driving, dates and boys, oh my! A trip to the mall last night wrapped up her school clothes purchases. God bless you Rue 21 for a sale and darn you Buckle for selling $70 jeans. She finished her summer reading assignment today, and grabbed up school supplies during a trip down the aisle at Wal-Mart last Friday. Geez. That was like going to war. It took body armor and a billy club to wade through that crowd. She is ready, but all that shopping and an email exchange last week with an old grade school buddy got me to thinking about back to school time.

While standing amid the school supplies, Hubby looked around at all the kids anxiously picking out their stuff and remarked, “I don’t remember being this excited about school supplies.” “That’s because you didn’t like school,” I said. “Hmm. You’re right.” I was different. I loved going back to school. I liked the thrill of buying new clothes and opening a brand new notebook. Of hooking back up with my friends and seeing how everyone had grown over the summer. “Oh, look! R. got boobs over the summer.” Remember, I grew up in a rural area, so we didn’t see much of each other during vacation. Facial hair and boobs were big developments. Or not so big in some cases.

When I was a kid our shopping for school clothes and supplies started around July. Mother would drive us to town to Finkel’s to buy jeans and shirts. The jeans were bell bottoms, and the tops were baseball jerseys. I was really proud to score the first "I shot JR" t-shirt in my class in sixth grade, thanks to a trip that summer to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
And if you're too young to know who JR was, you're not old enough to read this blog. Off with your young self! We also bought a new pair of shoes, sometimes earning a plastic egg from the Red Goose Shoes goose. Converse All-Stars were big, but so were earth shoes. Everything was put in lay-away and not retrieved until right before school started. That way it stayed nice until the first day of school. As we grew older, my brothers had the unfortunate luck to have their jeans purchased at Sears. They were the victims of that 70’s fashion fiasco known as Tough-Skin jeans. Because mother sewed, she made a lot of my dresses and blouses, usually from Simplicity patterns. Fourth grade was the year most of us girls got our first bras, not that we needed them. But my, didn’t we feel all grown up in those little stretchy things. We washed our hair in Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific and Farrah Fawcett shampoos and coated ourselves in Blue Jeans fragrance.
And Love’s Baby Soft. Oh, and as we got a little older we begged for Tickle deodorant and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. School supplies were just as important as the clothes. Just as it is today, back then it was important to pick out just the right stuff. While I don’t remember needing a lot of supplies back then, I know it was important to have a Trapper Keeper.
And a Frito Bandito eraser. How politically incorrect was that? Have I ever told you I missed my first recess of fourth grade because Larry O. took my pencil with the Frito Bandito eraser? We argued about it until Mr. T. made us stay in during recess and write “I will not talk in class” fifty times. It was one of many reasons why the conduct box on my report said “Talks too much” and “Out of seat too much” that year. A good metal lunchbox was important too. My friend Cathy had a Yogi Bear lunchbox, and it was okay, but all the really cool kids had something like Evil Knievel, Emergency or the Holy Grail of lunchboxes, The Land of The Lost. For the life of me, I can’t remember what my lunchbox was because I usually ate whatever the lunch ladies served. We actually had good homemade food served on rolling carts in the hallway that you could smell as lunch approached and the other students were served. We didn’t have a cafeteria. We brought our trays back to our classrooms and ate there. A great day brought homemade pizza and chocolate pudding. Good times.

I liked the feel of new clothes on the first day of school, the smell of new notebook paper and the touch of new unused pencils and erasers as I boarded the bus. It signified a new year, a new start, a new beginning for relationships and learning. Holding a notebook in the aisle of Wal-Mart last week brought all of that rushing back…and yearning just a little bit to step back in time…long enough to get my eraser back from Larry.
Photos courtesy of: bigredtoy.com, ilovethe80s.com, stuckinthe70's.com, dressthatman.com, martyshoe.com, cafepress.com, knitti-me.blogspot.com and vintagetrends.com.


oreneta said...

Hula, you may have grown up in the south, and me in Toronto, but we could have been next door neighbours. How do you remember all that stuff? And goodness, don't you go back to school early.

Jason said...

Whatever happened to layaway?

Mia said...

Ditto Jason! I am jonesin' for some layaway. My lunch box was The Partridge Family.

karisma said...

Too funny! It always amazes me that stuff from when we were young is considered vintage already! Geez we are not that old!

You know my girls all loved the back to school stationery binge! Over here, they only take six weeks off over summer but they still always need new stuff! Since you did not realise I had so many kids I will let you know my 3rd dd is the same age as your TeenAngel, (she is the only one still in public school) and as all my girls are artists the back to school binge is quite costly! Only the best brands will do! Thank god they wore school uniforms or the clothes would have killed me! (Having said that, I am a bit anti uniform, but then again I am anti school as well, so who cares?)

Cameragirl (my oldest) had a real obsession with lipsmackers! Can't say I remember them when I was at school!

Amy said...

Hula, thank you for the memories this morning...I had forgotten all about my infatuation with Love's Baby Soft.:)

Other than I grew up in the city....We have the same memories of school...But I do remember my first metal lunch box...It was the kind that the thermos goes on the top...and it looked like denim and had a picture of a dog and flowers on it.:)(It's one of the ones on display at the Smithsonian Institution's metal lunch box display...along with my Fozzie Bear one.)

I love this post...Oh the joys of a new school box with a fresh box of unbroken crayons!


Supercop said...

As I recall your lunchbox was the Flying Nun with Sally Field. You didn't carry it long though and it ended up in the dump out in the field behind the old farmhouse.
Probably worth millions now.LOL

Amy's Angels said...

I just came across your blog and laughed, laughed, laughed!! Such a good Friday afternoon work break.

I loved back to school. All the school supplies and new clothes.

Quangaroo said...

I think most people from that era have similar experiences. Your post brought back a flood of memories for me too. If you think I'm wrong about the similar experiences tune in to an episode of the Wonder Years and see how long it takes you to identify with one of the characters. Personally, I always liked making mini super balls out of the rubber cement.....

A New England Life said...

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I remember it all to well! My new pair of shoes and maybe some new geranimals, or a pretty plaid skirt with a white shirt were always a highlight for me.

Having a 15 year old daughter is quite interesting, isn't it? I can hardly wait until the prefrontal cortex is fully developed in mine.