New School Term

                             I Never Wanted to Go Back
                                                
By Jeff Salter 

            Our theme for a few weeks deals with ‘back to school’ and I’m an expert on this subject:  I never wanted to go back!  In that statement, I include K-5, junior high, high school, college, and even grad school.  [My grades throughout those years were nearly always very good (and sometimes excellent) and I occasionally flirted with straight A’s and Dean’s list.]  But I never wanted summer to end.  I mean, how could that they be so cruel?
            I have a clear memory of those last weeks of summers (when about to begin 4th – 6th grades):  I was totally indignant that people could compel me to attend school.  I was aware our small town had a truant officer and I knew he would ‘catch’ me and toss me into the calaboose if I’d dared go ‘over the hill’.
            As a kid, my summers were filled with play, sports, and adventures … and (usually) late rising.  Even if I never consulted a calendar, I knew school was a week away when my mom began waking us early … so our first few days of school wouldn’t be such a shock.  [Yeah, I was indignant about that too!]
            Once I got into the groove each new semester, I guess I didn’t mind school too terribly much, but it rankled me to have to relinquish so much freedom.  I was certain I already knew enough to get by and was positive that enforced schooling would never do me any good … whatsoever.

School supplies
            The only half-way ‘good’ aspect of going back to school was that we usually got a few new school supplies.  Our family lived on one-income for most of my youngest years and that salary was my dad’s.  In those days, chaplains made less than most teachers did.  So when we ‘stocked up’ on school supplies, it was nothing at all like the shopping sprees you see these days.

Third grade
            In THIRD grade I remember how much I wanted a BIG box of Crayola crayons.  I was terribly jealous of friends who came to school with the 48-color box — which, in the deluxe model, also included a sharpener!  [Even then, I recognized engineering acumen and marketing genius!]  But I was forced to make-do with the eight standard colors.  Boring!  And total mortification.  One year, my mom splurged and bought me a box with 16 colors.  < yea >

Fifth grade
            In my FIFTH grade, a commercial revolution had taken place:  no longer were kids tethered to those clumsy three-ring binders with stiff blue fabric covers.  A brand new product had launched and I wanted one so badly I could taste it.  I think it was called a Nifty … and it was, indeed, ‘nifty’.  I forget the exact configuration, but I think one of their models actually had the holes on the top edge of the paper!  [How radical!]  This new vinyl ‘binder’ came in different colors and had a hard plastic compartment (with a snap lid) in which you could keep pencils, pens, coins, small candies, bullets … whatever you wanted.  The ads on TV at that time proved conclusively that kids with the Nifty binder made better grades and had more adoring friends.

Seventh grade
            In SEVENTH grade, the revolution extended into writing instruments.  Once we got out of elementary grades, we had to have a fountain pen.  [For any youngsters out there, a fountain pen has a complex metal nib and a small bladder of liquid ink.]  The coolest guys in class sometimes lifted the lever (which pressed into the bladder) and all the ink shot out … onto anyone within about six feet.  I had practiced this maneuver at home, but never dared to do it at school because we already knew students were executed for infractions much less serious than ink-staining someone.  How did those cool guys get away with it?  I never figured that out.  If the teacher could see the ink stain on Susie’s shoe and all the nearby students were eye-witnesses to the nefarious assault … how could those boys NOT be in trouble?
            Anyway, my point is that in 7th grade a new product arrived — the CARTRIDGE pen.  It looked like fountain pen, but you’d unscrew the forward end and insert a slender plastic cylinder filled with very thick ink.  A tiny sharp tube impaled one end of that cartridge and conveyed the ink to the nib.  It wrote beautifully as long as you kept swapping-in new cartridges.  Those beauties – the pen plus one or two cartridges – cost the princely sum of 50 cents.  You could buy a small box of five (?) replacement cartridges for about a quarter, as I recall.

Ninth grade
            By the time I was in NINTH grade, there was never as much emphasis on school supplies.  The new effort was to look as cool as you could possibly manage — to obsess over school supplies was decidedly UN-cool.  Most every boy wanted to look like James Dean or Troy Donahue (or the Beatles) … and we knew the very most any of them would carry to school would be a single spiral composition book and a well-used pencil stuck above one ear.  Plus a cigarette cradled above his other ear. 
            This was also the year that I realized I looked way too doofus-y wearing my older brother’s hand-me-downs.  After all, my arms were several inches longer than his.  So my attention shifted to acquiring shirts which actually fit me.  Image — self-awareness was nearly a full-time job at that point.

Revolutions and transformations
            So you can see that my first 9 or 10 years of school were filled with upheaval:  revolutions in crayons, binders, and pens … and transformations from childhood to adolescence.
            What were my classes like?  What did I learn?  Well, we’ll talk about those issues over the next couple of weeks.

Question
            Did any of you ever look FORWARD to the start of the new school year?
            Were there any particular school supplies that really captured your interest?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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41 Responses to New School Term

  1. Tonya Kappes says:

    YES! I loved going to school. Because I got to see my friends that didn’t live by me. I remember that so I taxi my kids around all summer long and I can see why my parents never did. I can’t wait until my kids go back to school so I can get back on my writing schedule!!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I can definitely see how differently the adults viewed the start of school. And writers, even more so.
      You’re a terrific mom, Tonya, to let your kids keep contact like that.
      In my day it was only the kids within bicycle distance who you’d see.

      Like

  2. Hmmmmm wonder if this is turning into a girl thing…I loved going back to school as well! My experience was a little different from yours, Jeff. Some of the basics we share, like really really really wanting that big cool box of crayons with the sharpener. When I discovered there were gold and silver crayons in the box- I thought I had found the treasure at the end of the rainbow! However, although summers were fabulous- we traveled back to the States via many beautiful countries and we got to have our annual dose of English speaking TV- I missed my friends like crazy. Since I never lived in the US, all my friends were spread across the world taking their summer holiday and it was never where I was. I loved school and I was always thrilled to get back home!!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      What countries did you visit, Stacey? Were you in a military family?
      Yeah, I had forgotten about the gold & silver colors … but (as I recall) it was difficult to draw with those.
      Thanks for visiting today.

      Like

  3. Lois Grant says:

    I was always happy for the last the day of school so that summer could start and I was happy for school to start back. Missed the sleeping late, but being able to be with all my friends again was better. My parents could only afford the basics in school supplies, but I was no different from most of the other kids in the class. In the early years, I was always excited to get my school supplies as Mama would buy be a Big Chief tablet. Remember those with the red cover with the Indian chief on it?

    When I was in grammar school the schools must have had a little more money than in later times as they provided some of your supplies. We would get a table of scratch paper (for practice) and a tablet of slick paper (for the final product) twice a year. They would also supply us with pencils – yellow number twos. Of course, those supplies never lasted long, but everyone would get real excited the day the paper arrived.

    I was not the worst student nor was I the greatest student in the world, but I could have been honor roll if I applied myself. Being the last of five kids, you had a lot of people who you could be compared and you heard about it a lot. “Why can’t you be like your sister Beverly or your brother Frank?” Also Mom was 40 when I came along and 49 when she took on three grand kids. She was very tired when it came to helping with homework.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes, Sug, I do remember the Big Chief tablets, but I don’t think I ever owned one. I used to gaze admiringly at them however.
      Yes, I also went to school in LA and we got the the two tablets and a pencil or two. It was a big deal. But I hated that ‘rough’ tablet. You could see chunks of wood in the paper. And you couldn’t erase without tearing holes in the paper.
      My big brother was a straight-A student and was valedictorian at H.S. So the teachers — we shared several — wondered what I’d be like. Fortunately neither those teachers nor my parents pressured me to be “like” my big bro. They realized I had diff. priorities: namely, to have more fun!

      Like

  4. danicaavet says:

    I was in love with binders. My mom always got me the plain ones but I used to love staring at all the different styles they had. That and ink pens. I love ink pens! Not pencils so much since I can never get them sharpened to the perfect point without breaking them. *mumbles*

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Pencil sharpening was an art form, Danica. I knew girls who could produce the perfect points. Everytime I got even close to that perfection, the point would break off and I was back to scratch.
      Of course, as soon as you begin writing with them, it was all in vain. Ha.

      Like

  5. jbrayweber says:

    I loved going back to school. It was like a new adventure. Sure, it was also a little scarey. New teachers, new expectations, etc. I was an overachiever. 🙂
    Believe it or not, what I hated about the new school year was shopping for clothes. I hated to go clothes shopping. My mother had very specific tastes, which weren’t like mine. She was always up on fashion. She always knew what would be ‘hot’. And she was always right. But I hated the shopping. I was like a man, wanting to be anywhere else, than trying on yet another pair of pants. LOL!
    Things are a lot different now. I love to shop! Ha!

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Interesting, Jenn. I felt like School was strangling my ‘adventure’. Ha.
      I didn’t have to worry about a big ‘clothes shopping’ event. We were on a very thin budget and we got a new pair of leather shoes (mainly for Sundays) and a new pair of sneakers for school. And, as I noted, I suffered through years of hand-me-downs. Hated that.

      Like

  6. I always liked to go back but for the social scene. I missed my friends that didn’t live near me so I would always be eager to get back to see what was happening in their lives.

    Fav school supply? I liked (and still do) notebooks- cute ones, though, none of those plain ole ones for moi.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I truly disliked those old blue fabric-covered three-ring binders also, Jillian.
      For me, somehow, they represented the oppression of the institution of school: rules, schedules, BELLS. Everything designed to interrupt my enjoyment of recess, summer, games, whatever. I wanted to be a REBEL … with a Nifty notebook!

      Like

  7. Micki Gibson says:

    Oh, how I remember coveting that deluxe box of crayons with the sharpener with it. Does any one around my age remember the real girly notebooks (like Holly Hobby or something like that) with the raised designs that you could put the paper over it and scratch the pencil over it to make a print? Man I wish I’d gotten one of those. I had to settle for my friends making the prints for me when what I really wanted was to DO the sketching. I settled for sketching over the quarters I had to buy the school lunch…back when it cost fifty cents.

    I guess I liked going back to school to see my friends. I didn’t live in a nice suburban area with lots of kids, so school was my chance to catch up with them.

    Considering my youngest is up and watching Phineas and Ferb (where it’s ALWAYS summer), I bet Jeff was like those kids. Always doing something. (And I admit it, I love that show too.)

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Ha. Micki, I remember my daughter having those kinds of notebook designs … though I wasn’t aware of the pencil etching part of the operation.
      I’ve only seen enough of Phineas and Ferb to know that they’re bratty and get into lots of trouble. So, in that sense, I can identify them them. LOL.

      Like

  8. crbwrites says:

    I couldn’t wait to get back to school, and I know why. My mother thought it was important to teach me life skills during the summers–cake baking, gardening, ironing, dusting, meal planning, grocery shopping, and the like. YUCK. What I really wanted to do was read, and in school, no one would stop me. And yes, I also had a love of the cartridge pen. When the first cartridges ran out, I got replacement peacock blue ink. Very girly!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Life skills?! Yuck!. That sounds like being an indentured servant. I’m sure your mom’s heart was in the right place, but that’s drudgery for a child to be deprived of summer. I would have literally felt like a prisoner.
      And yes, I also READ a lot in the summer … never in the library ‘programs’ — just the books I wanted when I wanted.
      I didn’t recall that we had any choices of color in the cartridge pens. Maybe because I was in a small town we had either blue or black. And maybe only blue. LOL

      Like

  9. jeff salter says:

    I loved my Nifty notebook and remember taking out my pencil and putting it back in the special compartment even when I did not need to do so! It would also hold my once a week Coke money – 6 cents! My favorite new school supply was…the diferent shaped erasers called Itsy Bitsies! I, of course, wanted each and every one of them, but was only allowed to get 3. My sister and I would coordinate our choices in order to get 6 different animals. However, the Itsy Bitsies were never used as erasers!
    I am with Jeff when it comes to hating to go back to school. School disrupted my reading and swimming time!!! You had to read what the teachers wanted – even though some of that was interesting.

    Like

  10. jeff salter says:

    Oh, No! that last comment was NOT JEFF! It was me, Denise!

    Like

  11. I was a shy, straight A student who HATED almost everything about school, but I loved school supplies…still do! I insist on buying all of my grandson’s supplies….even though our desks are over-flowing with all sorts of writing paraphernalia. (If I win the lottery,I have instructions not to let me go near a stationery store!).The only school supply I hated were those darned 3 ring binders…used to pinch my hand in them…yow that hurts!
    As for crayons, we were not allowed to have the fancy boxes at school for years.I’d get one at Christmas once in a while…where did the beautiful “Midnight Blue” go? Laid down heavily, it looked like velvet.
    I only got to use ballpoints in school.(My sister had a friend whose trademark was her peacock blue cartidge ink). My friend Diane and I got pens when we were in 5th grade that had about every color in little tiny pens that stacked. We were both avid readers and did book reports ahead of time. When Diane got told by the teacher not do any more reports in yellow, green, pinklight blue, (etc.) ink,(as they were hard to read), she called me and we both had to rewrite a few reports that we had ready to turn in.

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Ha. I recall getting pinched by those huge rings also, Tonette.
      I no longer recall the names of those exotic Crayola Crayon colors, but they were very inventive and, uh, ‘colorful’ terms. But not terribly descriptive (for me anyway). I mean what does ‘pinklight’ blue even MEAN?
      I vaguely recall some of my girl classmates writing in colored ink. But all I ever had was blue or black.
      Hard for me to imagine a student preparing their reports in ADVANCE. Maybe I had some friends who did that, but I was never aware of it. Most everybody I knew either did it ‘on time’ or ‘at the last minute’.

      Like

  12. Laurie Ryan says:

    I didn’t like grade school so much (1 thru 8), but LOVED high school. Except for…and this is the answer to your “school supplies” question…I went to private school. That meant uniforms. Ugh! When my small class of 44 girls graduated high school, we all went to the ocean and had a big bonfire, tossing our uniforms in and dedicating them to this class or that. Fun memories. 🙂

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Sounds like an enjoyable and liberating ritual — buring the uniforms. May I assume you all brought along alternate clothing to change into? LOL
      My little town had a Catholic school system for young kids in co-ed, but when they entered high school the girls went to one school and the boys a diff. one.
      I was a public school boy and dated a couple of the girls in the Catholic school … along with sev. in my own school. It was considered somehow ‘special’ to date a girl from another school. No longer recall why.

      Like

  13. Bethany says:

    I won’t go into the gory details of my academic history. But I will say generally the new year caught me with a mixture of nerves and excitement. I remember the Trapper-Keeper was big in elementary school. The Mechnical Pencil was semi-popular in high school, but I think generally discouraged by teachers–we were supposed to have No. 2 pencils and pens (blue or black–but usually black pen).

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      No “gory details”, Bethany? Dang.
      I recall being impressed by mechanical pens as neat devices, but I never liked to write with them becasue the lead would always break away.
      I don’t recall the trapper-keeper from my own school days, but I think my kids’ era had them.

      Like

  14. Sorry, Jeff, that was a typo-due-to-husband distraction…it should have read: “…pink, light blue…”.

    Like

  15. I loved school. Loved it even more when I went back to finish a degree, that had been postponed by children, later on in life. Kept trying to gather up the oh-so-young fellow students and bring them home to feed them! LOL (Even had volunteers!)

    It did me no good to get the deluxe box of Crayolas with the built in sharpener because I had BROTHERS! They’d whittle all the crayons down and use the shards for some nefarious BOY STUFF! Usually feeding it to the neighbor’s dog to prove it was him pooping in our yard. For some reason they thought Dad wouldn’t make them scoop it up if it wasn’t our dog.

    Coveted school supplies? Had to be notebooks. Fancy, multi-hued, snap front notebooks. With multiple zippered pouches and pockets inside. I had to choose between fancy school supplies, or new skis every year. Of course some of my school supplies included insulated boots and down jackets because I worked with a Biology group that zipped around harnessed in the side door of a helicopter, snot frozen under my nose from the wind from leaning out pushing bales of hay into ‘deer yards’ — areas where deer had trampled deep snow down, that iced over and they couldn’t get out. It was drop hay bales until the Forrestry guys got in there with axes to chop a way out, or they’d starve.

    Crap. I just realized my brothers were right. I was a wierd kid.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Wow, Runere, you went to a pretty cool school. All we had was recess and P.E.
      You got to freeze snot alongside choppers! Dang.
      What area of the globe were you raised on?
      In my family, if any sibling had tampered with the crayons of another sibling, they would have been executed. That was a capital offense.

      Like

      • That’s what happens when you take college courses in high school! You experience all the ‘sexy’ things in life. *prolonged sniff* LOL And it was up close to and in the U.P. of Michigan.

        I’d have executed my brothers with gay abandon, and much righteous indignation, but my Mom wouldn’t let me.

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        True … Mom’s usually take a dim view of fratracide.
        Upper penninsula of Mich. Wow. That’s what they call north.
        I lived in Chicago for a year as a toddler. And in Iowa for a year in 10th grade.
        And, of course, in NW Greenland for a year as a Sgt. in the US Air Force.

        Like

  16. AND I have dyslexic fingers that result in typos!

    Like

  17. denise salter says:

    test message to see if I am still Jeff or me, Denise

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yep, you’re still you. And the mystery is solved. The reason your laptop defaulted to my ID for this website is because I used your PC when we traveled to our grandson’s 1st birthday party … on blog day.

      Like

  18. ~Sia McKye~ says:

    Actually, I loved school. I worked my butt off in the summer. I’m the oldest of nine children so there was a lot that had to be done at home and as I got older (14 onward), I also worked construction jobs with my dad. That’s not to say we didn’t have down time to play, we did. School was much easier. Well, except for math. Plus, I had the chance to see my friends. That didn’t happen in the summer.

    Did you know you could make your own ink for those cartridges? yep. I’d save the empties and fill them with my solution made with food coloring. The cool thing was, I could make my own colors. I love writing with a fountain pen.

    Sia McKye’s Thoughts…OVER COFFEE

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad you could visit, Sia.
      I did NOT know those cartridges were re-fillable. That would have been a terrific way to save money AND achieve custom colors.
      I had an after-school job in 8th grade which also carried across the summer. Made a little spending money, but it wasn’t terribly taxing. Just some responsibility that I couldn’t shirk. I think it was good training.
      Obviously, your job helping on construction was also great for building character.

      Like

  19. Pingback: Final week of summer vacation | fourfoxesonehound

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