School Daze

Photo by Luis Quintero on

Ah, Labor Day weekend. Summer’s last hurrah. A chance to celebrate workers. And in my part of the world, the days leading up to the advent of the school year.

Of course, this year’s Labor Day weekend and the weeks that follow will look distinctively different than those of the past. As with many districts around the country, our kids will go back to school with remote learning courtesy of video-conference instruction, digital assignments and virtual group projects.

It’s smart. It’s necessary. It’s the best solution in a tough situation. But I still pine for those old school back-to-school experiences. Here are some of my favorites:

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

Chalk dust flying through the air as the teacher writes his or her name on the blackboard.

The sound of backpacks being surreptitiously unzipped before the bell rings.

Those all-in-one desk-chair thingies.

New shoes.

Newly pegged jeans. (Anyone else remember–and maybe love–these?)

Doodling pictures of horses, three-dimensional cubes or an imagined new last name (preceded by Mrs., naturally) on my Peechee.

Practicing marching band formations.

Freezing at football games.

Walking the halls with a gaggle of friends.

Flirting at the lockers at lunchtime.

Ordering a giant cinnamon roll and chocolate milk from the snack bar.

School dances where nobody dances.                            

Instructional slides, complete with a “beep” to signal the operator to advance to the next image.

That’s just for starters.

So how about you? Do you have any fond-back-to-school memories? Please share!

53 thoughts on “School Daze

  1. Kathy… memories! I miss ALL of this. There’s nothing I loved more than back-to-school shopping and all those fresh notebooks and pencils and file folders. I loved it as a kid and loved it as an adult shopping for my kid – way more than she did. Hope your kids are okay and the world lets them get back to in-person learning sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I loooooooooove back to school shopping! There’s nothing quite like new folders to feel like the year’s off to a fresh (and good) start. Here’s to back to in-person learning sooner than later–and hugs to parents and kids.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I fondly remember clothes shopping (yes, I remember pegged jeans) and supply shopping. Unfortunately, since I was most definitely not “a cool kid” any enjoyment pretty much tanked as soon as I got to class.

    With two in college, supply shopping looked much different for me this year. I hope your kids return to normalcy and stay safe!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Great memories, all. The big memory for me is playing football on Sunday afternoons during my elementary school years. Looking back through the telescope of 40+ years, the weather was always perfect in game day!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Most of my back to school memories are not fond ones. I attended Catholic schools, K-12. Most of my memories involve trying to keep my head down so I wouldn’t get pegged for something, assigned extra work, kept after school, or in high school, get slapped around. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t get that none of this was normal. But summer was a blessed relief from anxiety, and I did not look forward to its resumption in the fall.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My mom was, in her words, “a Depression baby,” so she was thrifty and took me shopping at Penny’s for school clothes (rather than letting me buy name brands like Levis), so the shopping thing wasn’t big on my list.

    But I do oh so fondly remember hanging out in the band room at lunch, ditching “band P.E.” to go drink unlimited 10-cent coffee at Sambo’s across the street from the high school, and especially that thrill of the first day, when you’d get to catch up with all your friends you hadn’t seen since June. That’s gotta be the hardest thing for the kids this year. So sad…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The catch-up time was so great. I wonder how different kids’ “what I did on my summer vacation” essays will be this year.

      My mom was a depression baby, too, AND my grandma worked at Penny’s for, like, 30 years, so that was always the first stop. (I’m envious of your 10-cent coffee!)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Aw, great post, Kathy! Some of you guys are too young to remember this one: the scent of paper fresh off the mimeograph machine! And I still doodle “three-dimensional cubes, lol.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Wow, that is so cool, Leslie!! Looking forward to the new table read (new cast) of FTRH coming up soon. Too bad we won’t get to see your high school, though.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Are “dittos” the same as mimeographed copies? If so, I remember! My mom was an elementary school teacher so I often helped with making dittos, cleaning the chalkboard and my least favorite chore, changing out the bulletin boards.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. The crisp fall air as I walked to the school bus stop. Meeting my new teacher with hopes of being inspired. I loved school! New books and folders, new Sox, new hair barrettes. We sewed our own clothes so the only shopping was for shoes. I’d save my whole shoe budget for a pair of suede boots! Electric blue in 1965! Tan fringed suede in 1967! I still love boots!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I remember making book covers out of grocery bags cause we couldn’t afford to buy them.
    My best memory of starting the new year? I can’t believe I’m saying this. Waiting for the opportunity to do extra credit writing assignments so I wouldn’t have to make friends.
    Yup. That was me!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Making friends is excruciatingly difficult. I spent a lot of time in the library avoiding unknown humans. That extra credit has made you extra brilliant!

      We made book covers out of grocery bags, too. My son actually did that in kindergarten, back when books ruled over iPads.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My mom always covered mine (I could never make them fit right) with paper samples from those old-school wallpaper books. There was only one per book per year, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. My favorite part about school starting up again was seeing friends I wouldn’t necessarily see over the summer. And yes to book covers out of grocery bags! I used to be really good at making those (if my memory is accurate), but now I doubt I’d have a clue.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I loved school and school supplies with all my heart. I don’t think I’d be as resilient as the kids seem to be these days. I would be in absolute mourning if I had to do school remotely. I always got new clothes and shoes, but we were poor (and there were 8 of us kids) so we didn’t get name brands or anything too fancy. But i remember one year, I think I was in 5th grade, I got this beautiful pair of leather shoes that had hand-tooled (okay, machine-tooled) designs on them. I loved them so much until one of my daintier friends came to school wearing the same shoes. Suddenly my feet were enormous and I felt like a walrus on the beach. My feet are only size 7s now, so it couldn’t have been too bad! And there was the year I begged my mom for a completely inappropriate-for-Casper-Wyoming red pleather (okay, plastic) coat. She finally relented but told me I’d have to wear it all winter. That was the year I froze to death.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s so interesting how treasured those clothes were when there wasn’t budget for extra. I had a similar craving to your red plastic coat: a silk jacket that was weather-inappropriate and a bad idea for the girl who still sports Taco Bell mild sauce stains on most of her clothes. My mom relented and I was grateful for…well…forever.

      A size seven shoe sounds downright wee to me! I often veer into double-digit territory.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post, Kathy! Loved the fun nostalgia items. My most vivid back-to-school memories, clotheswise, involve pre-spandex knee socks and tights that would never stay in place. I’m sure even Marcia Brady had that issue. My favorite part of school ahopping? Picking out my metal lunch box for the year. Hello, Bewitched!

    Liked by 2 people

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