Back to School



It was my favorite time of the year, a time that most kids dread.

I did not.

I couldn’t wait to get back to school.

The marble notebook, a fresh box of Crayola crayons, a new pencil box filled with #2’s, the large pink eraser, plastic protractor, a wooden ruler with a sharp metal edge that would slice through flesh, the blunt end safety scissors that would barely cut paper.

Before Elmer’s glue, there was Le Page Mucilage, with a rubber tip applicator that only worked well if unclogged, mostly during the first week.

In my school, fountain pens were required, using a desk-mounted ink bottle, inches from the back of another student’s head. What could go wrong there ?

We carried book bags that looked more like brief cases. Backpacks had yet to arrive. We were allowed a colorful metal lunch box, with a small thermos that would soon smell like sour milk, no matter how you tried to clean it.

We had uniforms, ordered directly from the school. Navy blue jumpers with white cotton blouses, Peter Pan collars. So there was no need for clothes-shopping.BusterBrownDealer

Except for the shoes. We got a new pair of Buster Browns every September.

They had to last all year, no matter how much our feet did or did not grow. It was understood.

School was where I thrived. I loved everything about it.

Some kids cherished the summer. I counted the days until school was back in session. I kept that mostly to myself, growing up.

Much later, I was to become a teacher. It made perfect sense to remain in that setting for as long as possible.

Life had other plans for me outside of the classroom. But I never forgot the feeling.

When I pass those families gathering supplies, and I see the sour young faces checking off  items on a provided list, I just smile.

It’s that time of the year.


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72 Responses to Back to School

  1. Grammar school was not a good time for me, but junor school was enjoyable, encouraging, and a lot of fun. I found my school report from 1964 (I was 8) and the school photo that went with it. Was I ever that young or my hair that short?!

  2. George says:

    I loved grammar school even though the nuns were a bit crazy it was still an innocent time. I also loved my summers but I’ve never forgotten how that first day of school felt. Everything felt and smelled new and of course, we were young and innocent. Well, most of us were innocent…:)
    Just uniforms…nice to know some things still haven’t changed, except maybe the length of the girls skirts and the color of the boys pants..:)

  3. I still get that little thrill whenever I see a new box of Crayolas – especially the big boxes. The kids who had the big boxes were the envy of everyone else.

  4. I always loved school and still do.

  5. LaVagabonde says:

    I had a hard time in the school system, but a summer away from the other kids had a way of blurring the memories. I loved the smell of new pencils, blank notebooks, and that fresh box of crayons. I always started the school year with hope that things would be different. Except for the earliest high school years, it never was.

    • I focused on academics and kept myself pretty isolated, so I went through unscathed, for the most part. Sorry for the bad memories, Julie. I know it happened to a lot of kids, and detracted from the experience. Hugs. 💕

  6. Val Boyko says:

    I used to get so excited about where I would get to sit. Each year, there would be a different home room. We got to carve our names on our wooden desk., amongst all the teenagers that had gone before. …. Which makes me realize it wasn’t so much about the learning, but the feeling of belonging and finding my place. 😎

    • One of the best parts for me, I had a name ending in “B”, and I was really small, so in line or at desks, I was always up front, Val. It helped me pay attention, I guess. Name carving ?? We’d have been punished by the nuns, no doubt. ☺

      • Val Boyko says:

        I liked being up front too … But close to a window for short daydreams! I think we’d call it meditation nowadays 😉

      • You too ? I was a constant daydreamer. They’d call on me and I’d always know the answers, but I drifted off all the time. ☺ Years later, so did my son. They tested him for ADHD…results…he was just bored. ☺

  7. I swear I could still buy new spiral notebooks every fall. Loved getting new supplies!

  8. Erika Kind says:

    You truly were a special kid that you loved to go to school most of all after the long summer break! But it makes absolute sense that you became a teacher yourself. that is a wonderful story that touched my heart. So much gratitude you felt as a child!

  9. Though I was a good student I never looked forward to school starting.
    My youngest does look forward to going back to school.
    It’s a delight to see her unlike me.
    She turned 12 few days ago and asked for 2 things only.
    A volleyball and an old fashioned fountain pen, with the ink in a bottle.
    They stopped teaching cursive in public schools here in chicago, she taught herself.

    I might be raising a little teacher 😉

  10. I always felt sad when my KIDS went back to school. I liked them being at home. 🙂

  11. halfcupful says:

    I’ve always loved school too! Guess that’s why I became a teacher!

  12. Bun Karyudo says:

    I’m stunned and impressed by your enthusiasm to get back to school when you were a child. I struggle to imagine what that emotion must have been like. The day before school, I always felt like my cherished pet dog had just been run over by a steamroller.

  13. I loved school, too. We had steel nibbed pens and inkwells sunk into our desks in the 1940s

  14. lbeth1950 says:

    I loved school,too. We lived on a remote farm and rarely saw people, and summer meant hard work.

  15. Aaaah, thanks for that stroll down memory lane. I, too, love school — the beginning, middle, and the end. Great post! 😀

  16. I too, was one who couldn’t wait to get back to school, and all the school shopping beforehand. We didn’t have a list of supplies that we were to have when school started, and we did wear our own clothes, so it was always the adventure to go school shopping – with the three of us kids in tow.

  17. Oh, I love this time of year! I was born in ’64 but know all about mucilage and stinky thermoses! Your post brought back lots of good memories. We didn’t have back packs, generally, but I used my cotton duck Ranger Rick hiking backpack no matter who teased me. I was a member of the Ranger Rick club and proud of it!

    • A Ranger Rick gal…love it, be proud. I know I/we had themes on our lunchbox…it was the only shade of individuality. The only one I remember was Barbie ! ☺ Thanks, Jane.

  18. Those smelly thermoses. I remember those! I loved school too, Van, and everything about it. We didn’t have ink pots – I can imagine that made for some messy fingers, uniforms, and hair!

  19. We wore Buster Brown shoes when I has a kid? I don’t really remember what they looked like, recognize the logo and they lasted as long as Dingo boots from Sears! I was not meant for school, social butterfly was I back then. Hope you had a great weekend. Look for my next post, What The Hell? I plan to float your’s by you before I publish, works best for me. When your memories are erased so is how to spell.

  20. Hilarious about Report Cards, I have mine from Kindergarten. My report pegged me perfectly and I haven’t changed except, I play nice, share, don’t interrupt teacher and would take a nap for sure these days.

  21. joey says:

    I loved it too. Still have my grandfather’s wooden ruler with the sharp metal edge, too 🙂 Dunno what became of my yellow school bus plastic one…Wood lasts!

    I enjoy taking my kids to buy their supplies. I like how excitable they are and how their preferences change. I do not enjoy the extremity of the lists over the past few years, particularly when the younger two were in elementary school. I think we’ve leveled off a bit and for that, I am happy.

    I only buy my kids one pair of boots each winter. Every year, they hem and haw about whether to get the black and brown, but they don’t ask for both. I like that about us. lol

    • We had long lists that were posted at local retailers by teachers in the south. When we moved back to PA…nothing. I guess our taxes provide better for the schools here. Not sure which is better ? We did outgrow those school shoes in some years…we made them work until flip-flop, sneaker season.

  22. This posts brought about so many wonderful memories and the way you’ve written it is so warm and cozy. I remember Le Page’s, Buster Browns and the safety scissors–good times!! Thank you for sharing.

  23. I love this! I didn’t always have the best school experience, but as a teacher, I can completely relate!

  24. dannyj045 says:

    Great post. Check out my recent post about going back to school. I recently started a blog about my law school experience check it out if you have a chance.

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