Do you smell Crayolas and Elmer’s glue? It’s back to school time. Every time I see those displays of notebooks, crayons, pens, rulers, and glue sticks at the grocery store, I get a little nostalgic for my own school days. I’ll bet you remember those days, too and how hard it was to get to sleep the night before the first day of a new school year. I loved school and the anticipation of that first day was almost as exciting as Christmas. Mom and Dad always made sure I had at least five new dresses to start the year, and new shoes that pinched my feet after a whole summer of going barefoot. I had new tablets and new pencils, and the deluxe set of 64 Crayola crayons with exotic names like “burnt senna” and “chromium yellow.”
I grew up in a small town with only one elementary school and the teachers there had also been my mother’s teachers. There was only one section of each grade level, so there was never any mystery about who my teacher would be. But I couldn’t wait to get my new textbooks, especially the readers. Last week, Ron and I went antiquing and came across two of the readers that were in use when I was in third grade. Remember a reading book called “New Streets and Roads?” Oh boy did that sweet little book bring back precious memories of third grade: playing on the swings at recess with my best friend, cutting out construction paper turkeys for Thanksgiving, and making lace doily snowflakes for Christmas. Our school building was long and narrow with many windows, and the teachers put up our art work in those windows. I still remember my sense of pride at having my art work on display.
Every year of elementary school brought something new to anticipate. Second grade: cursive handwriting. Third grade: studying geography. Fourth grade: getting my own dictionary and learning long division: Fifth grade: getting to move to another building with the high schoolers. Sixth grade: going to the lab for science class and learning to diagram sentences. Diagramming isn’t taught anymore and I think it’s too bad. It was a very effective way to learn proper grammar.
Some schools have eliminated the teaching of cursive handwriting, too. It seems that nobody writes actual notes anymore and I’m sorry for that loss, too. E-mail is efficient, but an e-mailed birthday greeting or an e-mailed thank y0u note isn’t the same as a note handwrittten in ink on beautiful note paper, that arrives by snail mail. Another of life’s little grace notes has been lost in the name of progress.
What are your favorite memories from your school days? Leave a comment and let me know!