Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to School Back Then

Well, I had to register Carson for school this past week.  I don't know about y'all, but we only have 17 more days until our school bell rings again.  I sat there in the cafeteria and filled out all of the paperwork involved with starting another school year.  You know the paperwork I'm talking about.  You fill out the blue sheet with the name, address, the infinite list of phone numbers, the social security number, the emergency contact information, the work addresses, and the list of every paternal and maternal relative, both living and deceased, and their Zodiac signs....blah, blah, blah....then you put all of that same information over on the orange sheet too, just in a different order, and again over on the three white sheets and the one green sheet.....and that's before you even get started with the medical information like....put a check by each of these 19,000 medical conditions that apply and the date on which they occurred.        

Anyway....all that to say.....as much as I hate it, it's time to start gathering things up for the big day.  The sale papers are full of specials on supplies and the stores are stocked with everything for back to school.  This time of year always makes me a little nostalgic for my elementary school days, so I decided to dedicate this "Sentimental Sunday" post to back to school supplies-70's style.

1)  The first essential selection you had to make was.....the lunchbox.

Oh, it was so exciting to shop for that perfect vessel in which you'd carry your food to school.  Your lunch box kind of defined who you were and set the tone or theme for all of your other school supplies.  It was the building block on which all other supply decisions were made.  You know, you had the racier kids pushing the envelope with the KISS or Bee Gees lunchboxes plastered with their long tongues, tight pants, and exposed chest hair....and then you had your middle of the road, Hardy Boys, Emergency, and Charley's Angels group.......and lastly, the more sheltered Holly Hobbie, Peanuts, Flintstones, and Kermit the Frog sector.  With my Muppet Show lunchbox being just like the one pictured above, I was a member of the last group casting a disparaging eye towards the Gene Simmons toting boys.

A few things I remember about those metal boxes....first of all, they sure did hurt when your friend hit you with theirs.  And no matter how much your mama washed them, they always smelled like what you'd brought in it two or three days before.  They started off so shiny and white on the inside, but by April, they were showing some rust.  And those Thermoses.....well, they held about three ounces and would leave you dry as a bone after your peanut butter sandwich and Doritos.  That little metal piece that held it into place never survived very long and you were left with a Thermos that was free to roll around in there as it wished.  Oh, the memories.
 
2)  Working off of your lunchbox selection, you'd need to find a complimenting book bag or book satchel as they were called back then.  It was always good for the two of these to work well with each other in regards to either color or theme.  These two basic pieces were the foundation for the look you were going for that whole year, so these choices were, oh, so important and not to be taken lightly.  My Minnie Mouse satchel was a beautiful piece and just like the one pictured except it had a yellow background, which really played well with the yellow handle and font of my Muppets lunchbox. 

3)  Was there ever any greater joy than selecting your notebooks and folders?  There were so many different directions you could go.  Pop culture, nature friends, cartoons.  Notebook selection was never a speedy process.  Each one had to be considered carefully and their merits weighed.  And how I always wanted a Trapper Keeper!  I was enamored with how it kept all of your vital documents so organized in such a concise and easy to manage compartment.  I never had one.  I suppose my mother felt they weren't worth the money or maybe that they'd likely tear up before the Christmas break.  Whatever the reason, I was left to covet my classmates' Trapper Keepers and somehow try and manage to keep my papers together without the help of the organizational wonder with its Velcro closure. 
4)  Pencil Cases and School Boxes - Pencil cases were optional and a bit redundant with the school boxes already in play, but some of my friends had them...some even with the magnetic closure.  I especially envied those who had the one that served the dual role of also housing your milk money.  Brilliant advancement in the world of pencil encasement.  

5)  Of course, you couldn't start to school without a fresh jar of paste and a new pair of scissors....unless your mom deemed last year's pair still in working order.  We didn't have those brightly colored handles with the cushioned finger holes that these kids have now.  No, we had the metal torture contraptions that left angry, red, inflamed rings around your thumb and finger until well after recess was over.  At least the lefties enjoyed somewhat of a cushioning layer.  As far as the paste was concerned, I was fond of its minty smell.  It was all fun and games until around February when you had to dig way down to the bottom of the jar to get a decent amount of paste for your Mom's doily valentine and, in the process, the white plastic applicator stick would get all bent over to one side.  From that day until school let out, pasting was a struggle.         
 

 

6) Everyone needed a calculator and if you were lucky enough, you had the Little Professor.  Calculators offered a lot of academic assistance, but a lot of questionable entertainment as well.  Invariably, the kid with the KISS lunchbox would show everyone how if you punched in the number 7734 and then turned the calculator upside down, it would spell out a bad word......hell....which is where I was convinced you were headed if you took part in such shenanigans.  Third grade troublemakers.
7)  School clothes.  You always had to go get a few new things to wear.  Over the summer, your pants had gotten too short and last year's shirt sleeves hit you above the wrist, so you'd head off to Sears and JC Penney for a long day of trying on new Toughskins and maybe some corduroy pieces with your mom tugging and pulling on everything to make sure you had enough growing room.  Mix in the paper grocery bag of clothes that your cousin just outgrew and maybe a couple of Simplicity patterns and you were set for the year. 
8) With our toes crammed down to the very end of our Keds and the rubber toe all scuffed up, we'd go to Mel-Mac Shoes where we had to be fitted for new tennis shoes and new loafers, so that all of our grade school clothing needs would be covered.  I never minded going to Mel-Macs though as we could always ride the horses while our mom browsed and the man checked for our size in the back.  I'm pretty sure I had the Buster Brown's in the middle and I definitely had these Nikes.....I was beyond cool. 
9) Before you could call yourself finished with your shopping, you needed to grab a few finishing touches......the icing on the cake, if you will.  No one could return to school with unraveling yarn hair ties or footies with missing pom poms. Those little details were what really made the difference and set you apart from the rest.
10)  Last but not least, a couple of days before school started, we'd go to the local IGA or Food Center and get a few lunchbox fillers.  Lunchbox food was strictly that......for lunchboxes only.  Snacking on it at home was strictly prohibited....."No, that's for your lunchboxes!"  It was a given that there would be a Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pie in our lunch almost everyday and here are a few other things I remember my mother sending in those fold over sandwich bags. 

  

Somehow, I don't think the school list that I'll be hauling into Office Depot over the next couple of weeks will give me the same warm fuzzies as this list, but it must be done and I will forge ahead bravely to tackle the task at hand.     

What do you remember about back to school shopping? 




12 comments:

  1. Loved this! Fond back to school memories!

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  2. i laughed all the time i was reading this joni! this past saturday i went school shopping with my daughter for her 10 year old twins....my gosh, you almost need to take out a 2nd mortgage for all the things required these days! and of course she buys x2! no lunch boxes or back packs were bought as the boy has his from last year and my granddaughter wants a "messenger bag" which apparently costs an arm and a leg....however, i did some checking on line later and have some i'm going to "present" to her for her approval today when we go shopping (again)! and i dropped a small fortune on 2-3 pieces of clothing for her last week and she's only 10!

    thanks for these memories....much simpler times!

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    1. Bless your daughter's heart is all I have to say!!! I cannot imagine having twins to buy for! Definitely not like it used to be.

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  3. I remember how important it was to pick out the right thing to wear for the first day of school. Many, many phone calls were made..."what are you wearing?"

    My favorite, as most important as it set the tone for all of my junior high years and could definitely carry over to senior high, was what I wore the first day of 7th grade. At that time, 7th-9th grades were together and then it was 10th-12th, but as we were on the same campus there was some interaction. You had to be cool. So with my hair feathered and new canvas Nikes, I put on my bright yellow painter pants and matching striped rugby shirt. I was rocking the 7th grade!!

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    1. Oh girl.....I bet you were looking good! I forgot about painter pants!! Good times....

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  4. I, too, remember the outfit from the first day of 7th grade! I was rockin' a pair of green jeans and a fancy polyester green print blouse! Bless my heart :)

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    1. Hahaha! I, sometimes, cringe at my younger self, too, Jammie! Bless all of our hearts! :)

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  5. Oh, I am totally showing my age here, but I don't care - I remember being SO JEALOUS of my friend who had a Laugh-In lunchbox (remember that show?!) and it had "Sock It To Me, Sock It To Me, Sock It To Me" written on the front of it. I went to a private school and we took our lunches in brown bags, but at some point I had that plaid one that you have a picture of but I can't remember what grade that would have been. Anyway, thanks for taking me back with fun memories!

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    1. I loved the plaid one, Karen. It was very a classy look, so I can imagine that you were all that! :)

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  6. I'm even older than Karen because I was in High School when Laugh-In was on TV. : )
    We still had to wear dresses to school and I remember getting a new dress for school for back to school.
    No lunch boxes for me. I lived close enough to go home for lunch.
    As always your post had me laughing. : )

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    1. Thank you, Happy One! Wow! How nice to be able to go home for lunch! And I think Laugh-In was before my time, because I don't have any memories of that.

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