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Back to School

August 13th, 2018

I started the first grade in 1976 at Mt. Zion elementary in Jonesboro Georgia. My mom was a junior high school teacher, so I was one of the first kids to show up for Mrs. Johnson’s class that day. I can still remember holding my mom’s hand while we walked down the first hall on the left to Mrs. Johnson’s classroom. I remember looking at all the other first-grade rooms and thinking this might not be that fun. However, it all turned out alright, and I had eleven more back to school years after that day.

I was lucky to have a full three months of summer vacation, and in the 70’s back to school started early because you had to order from the Sears Catalog. I hated that bulky thing except for the toys in the back! The only clothing section I did like was the NFL winter jackets and hats’ section. I would stare at that page and wonder what a kid in Denver or Green Bay was thinking. I begged for the Dallas Cowboy set, and my Mom was good to buy it for me. Gosh, I just loved looking at those jackets! Mom would always order my clothes a little big so that I could grow into them during the year. The clothes would arrive a week before school like clockwork. If they did not fit it was too bad! Mom would have to send them back and wait for another four to six weeks for delivery.

Now, what I did like were all the school supplies that had to be bought. First up was the lunchbox. We always went to the local Kroger where they had rows of lunch boxes for kids. I remember struggling with the Six Million Dollar Man or the Star Wars lunchbox. Maybe Evil Knievel or the Dukes of Hazzard, but I always landed on the lunchbox with all the NFL helmets on it. NFC of course. No kid wanted an AFC helmet lunchbox at my school. My lunchbox was always had a ham and cheese croissant, celery and peanut butter; a Little Debbie Star Crunch, and Lemonade. I don’t like milk, so everyday kids were asking me for my milk when I walked in the door.


Next was paper, pencils, and folders. From first grade through sixth grade, we had a specific paper for each year. So, first grade had the paper that was for a first grader. I don’t know why this was, but every year we all got the same paper to do our work on for the specific year. Pencils! That was a big thing in my younger days.  There were pencils called husky that were bigger and thicker than normal pencils. This was needed in a game of pencils, not allowed in school, where you tried to break the other person’s pencil. Then there were the NFL pencils.

These pencils were gold for a kid! You always started with the plan white Cardinals or Giants pencil. Then onto the ugly orange of Tampa Bay. Next would be the green of the Eagles and Packers. The grey Cowboys pencil was untouchable. I would have rather not done my work then put that pencil in the pencil sharpener.  Of course, you had to put the big eraser on top, and they all had to be no. 2 lead. Finally, were the folders. I always went with the Star Wars folders because the pictures were so cool. The Darth Vader was the best one, and if you had a CP30 folder, you got made fun of until you got rid of it. As I got older, the famous trapper keeper is what was used to hold your schoolwork. It then came lockers where most of my books spent the night every night.

The first day of school was also exciting because you found out what classroom you were in, your teacher, and if your friends were in your class. The kids in my neighborhood always seemed to be together in a different class than me. This was an issue because there were rivalries all year long about whose class was the best.  I find it funny that starting in the second grade, I walked a block to the bus stop and rode the yellow bird to school, as I did for nine years, on the first day. When we got to school, we all raced to see the poster boards that were on the wall with room assignments. Then you found your class without any help from your parents. I laugh about that now because I can’t see parents today letting kids do any of this on their own now.

So, times have for sure changed for back to school days. However, the dread of summer being over will never go away, and the excitement of a new year with new challenges will never go away. Good luck to all the kids this year as a new year is starting up.


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