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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: Crafty!

‘Old School’ column: Crafty!

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I know what you thought when you saw the title. No, I was not a sneaky kid, and I was a lousy liar. Multiple punishments proved that.

But even ham-fisted me liked to create things. They weren’t usually pretty, but I took great pride in them anyway.

An early effort was a school Eastertime project, for which we brought an empty cottage cheese container. At that time, the lumpy stuff came in a waxed cardboard tub which was decorated especially for the holiday with bunnies and/or eggs.

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Kids from the local orphanage came to our school and they never had cartons, so my mom always sent me with extras. In fact we ate cottage cheese (which I never liked much, but luckily my parents did) for WEEKS before Easter.

Once we had our tubs, the teacher would use sharp pointed scissors to gouge a hole in opposite sides of each one. Then we’d pick colorful pipe cleaners to braid a handle.

After we’d filled the thing with our choice of Easter grass, we were ready to take it home for egg collecting. My supportive mom used it as a centerpiece on our kitchen table.

Another favorite project, when I was older, was my summertime entry in the neighborhood shoebox parade. Though the event was held at dusk, I’d attack an empty shoebox during the day. I’d cut two or three windows on each long side, covering them from inside with scraps of wrapping paper. My version of stained glass.

In the box’s short front end, I’d poke a hole and insert cord/string, knotting it for my pulling tool. I also cut a ventilation hole in the box lid.

Just before the parade, Mom would chop a candle in half and stick it to its melted wax on the bottom of the box. The height of the candle was crucial: too tall and it didn’t light the windows; too short and it melted too soon.

Once the parade was ready to start, we’d line up, like we were at the Indianapolis 500, with beauty the objective instead of speed. We’d light our candles (think “Gentlemen, start your engines”) and parade down the sidewalk, letting everyone admire our beautiful creations.

And believe it or not, they really WERE pretty, with a warm, colorful glow in the waning light. Our parents applauded from their lawn chairs and the kids too little to make one looked on enviously.

Old School twilight was a magical time.

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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