School supplies years of fond memories

Published 12:50 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All those folks buying school supplies during this past weekend’s sales tax holiday brought back memories of my school days.

No, I didn’t attend a one-room school. I’m not that old. However, during my school days in the 1960s and early 1970s, we did not have computers or Smart Boards. It was only in the last year or two of high school that I used calculators, if my teachers allowed it. Then again, we did use computers — our brains.

I attended a private kindergarten. Although I learned something, I remember liking naptime, recess and that midmorning break for milk and cookies. The milk came in little, glass bottles, smaller versions of those milk bottles the milkman left outside the front door.

Remember those milk bottles? On very cold mornings, which didn’t happen much in Pensacola, Fla., or in Newport or Beaufort, S.C., for that matter, one could occasionally find that the foil lids on the milk bottles had worked loose because of the cream rising up the neck of those milk bottles.

During my elementary school years, I was more interested in buying school supplies such as notebook paper, pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, Crayola crayons and Elmer’s glue. I preferred the Crayola crayon box that came with 64 crayons and a crayon sharpener. Back in those days, I don’t recall having any book bags. I do recall having a plaid (mostly red, black and yellow) satchel when I hit the upper levels — sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

And when it came to a lunch box (for use when I chose not to eat at the school lunchroom), one had to choose wisely. In the early years of elementary school, a Mighty Mouse or Deputy Dawg lunch box would suffice for the first through third grades. By the fourth grade, it was time for a Batman or Superman lunch box. When the sixth grade came along, it was time to trade in a lunch box for a brown, paper bag.

Of course, buying school supplies meant summer vacation was winding down, with another school year about two weeks away. Shopping for school supplies meant tagging along with your parents as they bought the supplies. They would buy what they believed was appropriate. Of course, if given a choice in the matter, we kids would have bought different items.

“My mom bought it,” was an explanation offered often during the first days of a new school year to explain one’s possession of a specific school supply item. Further explanation wasn’t necessary. Every kid in the school understood, especially when that explanation was used to explain away a certain new item of clothing one was forced to wear during the first week of a new school year.

According to each generation of school children, their parents have no fashion sense. That may explain why many school systems require students to wear “uniforms” these days. If it were not for an alert school bus driver, I would have worn pajamas to kindergarten one day.

Since naptime was a key part of kindergarten for me, I considered pajamas among those crucial school supplies I needed. I learned in kindergarten one needs the proper tools to do specific jobs. Pajamas are the proper tool for naptime.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. The only Smart Board he ever heard of during his school days was the board the principal used to discipline other students. He understood that when it was used on them, it smarted.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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