School daze

I’ve been enjoying all the first day of school posts lately on Facebook of my friends’ kids and grandkids. Standing on the front porch are smiling youngsters holding a sign that says: “Duncan – First Grade” or “Natalie – Kindergarten.”

When my sister’s oldest child started kindergarten, the teacher gave the parents little care packages to take home. (One way to get the lingerers to leave.) I knew her kid would be fine, but I thought I should check on my little sister. The care package she’d received contained, among other things, a bag of herbal tea, suggesting she have a cup and relax. A cotton ball taped to a card that said, “To remind you of your child’s gentle spirit.” And a tissue, which she promptly blew her nose with. “That cotton ball was a low blow,” she told me, tears streaming.

My brother and sister-in-law reacted a little differently when kindergarten time rolled around for their first-born. They decided to wait until the next year to send her. Their daughter is an exceptional child (this is her aunt talking) and would’ve been just fine I’m sure, but her parents needed to be held back a year. She’s a junior in college now. But my brother’s youngest kid goes away to college this month, so I’m sending thoughts and prayers to the empty nesters. Maybe I should send them a care package.

I remember the mixed bag of feelings I had as a youngster when school would start back in the fall. I didn’t want my summer vacation to end, but I wanted to see my friends. I had the feeling my parents were quite ready for school to start. My mom would take my sister and me clothes shopping. We’d hit the back-to-school sales at the department stores, where there were all these cute sweaters, and layered tops, and corduroy pants. 

School would start in Memphis just after Labor Day, which people in many areas of the country consider autumn. But, weather-wise, September was still summer for us. And so was October. I’d get so impatient, I’d usually end up talking my mother into letting me wear one of my new fall outfits, only to regret it as I sat in class wilting.

Images: Pixabay

In high school, I remember my sister and I had been especially excited one year when my mom had let us each buy a brand-name cashmere sweater that featured a trendy logo. We didn’t always get to buy the “brand-name” items, but we happened to catch these on a good sale.

We proudly wore them for a while — until my dad decided to help out with laundry. He put our wool sweaters in the dryer! Our sporting horse logos shriveled up into a small pony. I ended up giving mine to my third-grade cousin. Sigh. At least it looked good on her.

Do you have any back-to-school stories to share, or remember a favorite new outfit you got for starting back to school? What design was on your favorite lunchbox? (Mine was The Monkees!)

47 thoughts on “School daze

  1. I was always split on back to school. One the one hand, it would be something to do and I generally enjoyed school. On the other it brought me back into the sphere of people who cared more about the logos on my clothes (with four kids, Mom never bought the name brand stuff) than me as a person.

    I do remember when an aunt bought me a pair of Jordache jeans when those were “the” jeans to have. I wore them until I couldn’t get them zipped, even if I laid flat on my bed and held my breath! (They did nothing for my popularity, by the way.)

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Jennifer, I didn’t either, except for this one pair that was a gift from an aunt I never saw. In fact, Mom made me wear jeans from the boys department until puberty because they were cheaper than those in the girls department.


  2. When I started Kindergarten, we lived in the country, so I rode the school bus, which picked me up around noon. I was in afternoon Kindergarten. Us kids had the most wonderful bus driver. The first day I shyly got on the bus, he stopped me, asked me my name, introduced himself and then I sat down and we moved on. This guy loved children. He was an older man, at least to a 5 year old, and all of us loved him to pieces. I’ll never forget that bus driver. He passed away when I was in high school. He is definitely my most memorable and favorite memory that first year of school.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory.

      Bus drivers could really make or break your trip. I also had to ride the bus for a huge portion of my schooling years. The ones who really invested and asked questions about how I was doing were the best.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I remember all the other kids’ lunchboxes–Family Affair, the Munsters, Brady Bunch, and a generic red plaid one. I had a lunchbox, in first or second grade: Mary Poppins. It didn’t look like the movie version Mary at all. Unfortunately, my parents made me take “hot lunch,” which meant questionable food items on puke-green trays on the other side of the auditorium which doubled as our cafeteria. No yummy Fritos, PB&Js, or Ring Dings/Hostess Fruit pies for me. My biggest back-to-school fashion memory? The Thurs. after Labor Day (our school year kick-off) meant the advent of itchy knee socks and tights with zero stretch that never stayed up. And those Danskin/Health-Tex mix-and-match separates. I am scarred for life.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I loved everything about school and couldn’t wait to go back. My family always did a group “first day of school” picture in the back yard, which are so hilarious now. And I continued the tradition with my kids in front of the little stick of a tree in the front yard which is enormous now. My son made me laugh, though, when he got out of the Navy and lived with us for a bit. He was starting college classes (coincidentally at the same place where our own Cynthia Kuhn teaches) and went with his backpack to stand in front of the tree before he left that first day so I could take a picture which he shared on facebook. It never failed to amuse me to call after him when he left for school, “Make good choices! Be a good friend!”

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My lunchbox featured the Care Bears. I’m not even sure I was the one to pick it out–I think it was on sale. Although, like Lisa, I also had hot lunch at times. Some of the items on the tray were quite hard to identify.

    Also, I had a cashmere-ish sweater in high school ( a gift, I believe). Unfortunately, I wasn’t that great at laundering. I must have shrunk it but still managed to wear it for a while after that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d sometimes ask my mom to let me buy the school lunch on the days they served chili with grilled cheese sandwich!
      Jen, that you had a Care Bears lunchbox emphasizes how much younger you are than I!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Chili with grilled cheese?? Oh, your school system was way ahead of ours. We had something called Mock Pizza every Wednesday–fake English muffins with congealed dogfood and a slice of American cheese.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Back-to-school shopping earned me a snap down the back denim dress one year for high school. (Welcome to the 80s!) I rose from my anatomy lab seat, and heard each snap UNSNAP! I flashed everyone who sat behind me! Never wore that again! My favorite lunchbox was Scooby-Doo. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Vickie, that made me remember once when I was in the church choir and on Easter Sunday the gal who sat next to me had a complete wardrobe malfunction where her skirt literally fell apart. She felt it happening as we processed in, and while we sat in the choir area, it pooled at her feet. She was going commando under that robe during the recessional!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. My frugal depression-era mom took us to Penny’s to shop for back-to-school clothes, so I didn’t get the trendy Levi’s 501s that all the cool kids were wearing until high school, when I could afford to buy them myself. But I did have a super-cool and trendy Roy Rogers lunch box in elementary school! (Which I started bringing to lunch again my senior year of high school once it had become “retro.”)

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I honestly have very little memory of how I felt about school. I know I loved school supplies, though! And that I hated high school so much, I graduated in 3 years. The only thing keeping me there was an unrequited crush on a guy named Vince Hyler. He was so hot he dated a senior when he was a freshman and this was decades ago. First day of sophomore year, teacher calls roll in homeroom and says his name. I almost passed out from joy. Then someone yelled, “He moved to California.” As soon as the bell rang, I went to my dean and said, “I want to graduate early. There’s nothing left for me here.” I don’t think I even talked it over with my parents. In fact, I recently asked my mom if we talked about. And she said, “you graduated early?”

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I was home schooled for a number of years, so the first day of school wasn’t as big a deal. Still, I felt the change that school starting brought for many years after I graduated. Now, I just dread it because it adds so much commute time to my drive to work (when I’m working in the office.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mark, it sounds like you need to avoid school zones and bus routes! Be honest, you had some kind of Disney lunchbox or backpack, am I right?


      1. I had Peanuts, but I don’t remember having Disney.

        And the bus and school routes are also the major roads in town. Impossible to avoid them all.


  10. I distinctly remember my prized Scooby-Doo lunchbox and my very favorite back-to-school outfit: a little denim number featuring a vest, gauchos and a polyester “silk” blouse with a giant flouncy bow. I also had a fresh perm. It was as glorious as you might imagine.

    (And that cotton ball story! SOB!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, Kathy, I had gauchos with matching vest and a big perm, too! We should dig up pics and share them privately. But they should never, ever go public! Lol!
      I would still carry a Scooby Doo lunchbox if I had one!

      Liked by 2 people

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