Looking Back: Headed Back to School

It is so easy to look back to my childhood and think about how uncomplicated parts of life used to be. By today’s standards, they may even seem primitive. As I am inundated with the television ads of parents taking excited children shopping, I think back to the days when I was being pulled along by my parents to partake of this annual ritual we call Back to School.

We also looked forward to the “new clothes” shopping trip, but we had no say in what we were getting, as we were schlepped along just to make sure the new clothes fit.

Only one outfit was purchased, as most of my childhood wardrobe consisted of “hand-me-downs” that came from family friends who had children a year or two older than I was. Additionally, most of our school clothes were still wearable because all clothing was divided into two categories: play and school.

Schools had dress codes that we were expected to obey; we had not yet become slaves to fashion. After school, our parents insisted that we change from our school clothes into our grubbiest. We may have worn a long-sleeved shirt, tailored pants, and dress shoes (or Sunday shoes). Those were changed out after school for a T-shirt, blue jeans (it didn’t matter what brand or who designed them), and Red Ball High Top Sneakers.

Oh, let’s not forget to mention other school supplies. I remember standing in line as we picked up our textbooks for the new year. More often, than not, the books had been used for many years before the school decided it was time to update. These books were expected to be handled with care and turned in at the end of the year. They were also to remain in our lockers at school unless we had to take them home for homework.

We had one notebook with paper for assignments that we carried back and forth as needed, and we had filler paper at school and at home. If homework was corrected and handed back to us, it usually went home so our parents could see how we were doing. I can’t remember where it went afterwards, so it must not have been important.

We made do with number 2 pencils and an occasional ballpoint pen, although fountain pens were still used for a few years (and the teachers passed out ink as needed). Crayons disappeared after we were no longer in Kindergarten. We didn’t have backpacks as there was no real need . . . we could carry everything tucked under our arms or in our pockets. We didn’t have calculators, computers or personal phones.

Wow, I guess things were simpler then. At least, they were less complicated by technology, and therefore, less expensive.

By I. Kartouche

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