Back to School
It seems summer vacation is ending much earlier than it did "in my day" (I'm over 40 I'm allowed to say that without irony). I did however start school slightly later than everyone else. Most people started school shortly after Labor Day, however, since I went to a very Cuban-American grade school (1st-8th grade) we didn't start until after September 8 which is the feast day of Cuba's patron saint La Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity).
But my favorite part of going back to school was, of course, shopping for school supplies. Even now I'm a bit of an office supply junkie, but school supplies are so much better. Because I went to a private school we didn't have to worry about shopping for clothes because we had a uniform so it was all about the supplies. I know that today parents usually get a list ahead of time for what to get, but 142 years ago, when I was in grade school, the parents got nothing ahead of time. So before school started we would head off to the now defunct Zayre's, which was sort of like a Wal-Mart only not soul-suckingly evil, and buy general stuff.
General stuff was pencils - I would get 2 packs of pretty yellow unsharpened #2 pencils, a pencil sharpener - the black one with the domed plastic lid, depending on the grade either spiral notebooks or plastic three-ring binders with three hole punched college ruled paper, a wooden ruler, and starting around 5th grade we had to get ball point pens - a pack of blue, a pack of black and a pack of red. Then there was the matter of a carrying method - this was before backpacks and rolling suitcases were an option. When I was little I would get a book bag that looked like a soft sided briefcase with a buckle on the front - I can't find a picture of anything like it. Later on I was too too cool for book bags so I got those elastic book bands with hooks to hold the books together and hitched the pile of books and notebooks on my hip. Oh and there was that glorious time when the Trapper Keeper entered my life - as John Mayer said (although he was talking about the 80s generation it applies to me as well) it was "the genesis of obsessive compulsive disorder for my generation." I never needed a pencil case or pencil box because my mom would get me bank deposit pouches from work.
On the first day of school the teacher would give us the list of specific items we would need - crayons, scissors, and as we got older calculators, protractors, compasses (shudder!), etc. But best of all, we would get our books for the year. Again, because I was in private school we would buy our books, so each year we would get brand new books - people didn't sell used text books back then. I remember the crack sound when I opened them, the smell of new book...they were so pretty and shiny, so full of promise. Later that night my father would cover them, first in clear contact paper to protect them and then with whatever book covers I had chosen for the year which wound up lasting about a week tops. It was awesome.
Then of course, the second day of school we'd get homework and everything went downhill from there as I counted the days to the next summer vacation.
I hope everyone's 2009 back-to-school day is (or was) uneventful and full of promise!