by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette
“In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love.” I am not a man, certainly not young, and spring was a long time ago. But in September, my “fancy” turns to the classroom, with happy memories.
Call me crazy, but I liked school. It was a reunion with friends I hadn’t seen all summer and a chance to meet my new teacher.
Beforehand, Mom and I performed the ritual of school-clothes shopping, which I liked at first, but grew weary long before she had found the best buy on the most sensible apparel. We avoided pants, since they weren’t allowed at school for girls back then.
On the first day of school, I always insisted on wearing one of my new outfits, sweating buckets in the September southern Indiana heat.
I loved those snappy new school supplies too. My art gum eraser was the preferred mistake-corrector while my unsharpened pencils were ready for action.
Other popular items: my perfectly arranged unbroken Crayola crayons, pristine Prang paint tin and Le Page’s glue with the rubber applicator tip.
If we ran out of equipment during the school year, we could always shop at the school store, open before class and staffed by chosen students. They also sold Smith Brothers cough drops, in licorice and cherry flavors. I faked more than one cough to get permission to suck on those sweet candies during class.
I loved the school parties, too, organized by two Room Mothers. (My mom was one in first grade and I was very proud.) We celebrated every holiday we could think of, plus all the school-year birthdays.
The party always included sweets, festive paper products and sometimes even crepe paper decorations. Who doesn’t like eating off a plate with a black cat on it? We’d toast the occasion or the honoree and swill gallons of juice.
By junior high school, I endured the ritual of covering my textbooks. I bought snazzy covers, but some of my more creative classmates used brown paper grocery bags and decorated them.
The problem – remember I said “endured” – was the needed engineering degree to get the darned covers on the books. You know the drill: “Fold on line B, then tuck the flap under point A.” I usually ended up with a crumpled mess that I promptly threw away.
School was a source of learning, but also a mini-city, full of stock characters: the princess, the baby, the bully, the jock, etc. But we all managed to find our place in the pecking order and make the best of it. Good training for life in lots of way, don’t you think?
A resident of Arlington for 40+ years, Carol McEwen sells real estate when she’s not imparting deep insights or sparkling wit in this column. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.