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The Season of Nostalgia


It's Six Word Saturday, and
It's that time of year again!

The summer is winding down, the sun rises a little later in the morning, and evenings are a bit cooler.  If we lived in the land of trees, leaves would soon be dressing in wonderful colors before tumbling to the ground.  It is also the time when schools are starting up again. That stirs memories in all of us of our own school days long past.  How the years slip away!

As a girl growing up in the 60's in a small Midwest town, life was fairly simple.  After a summer of playing outside, swimming at the nearby lakes and local pool, going on picnics, bicycling back and forth across town to visit friends,  and devouring book after book for the Public Library's summer reading program, it was time to prepare for the new school year.  I loved school and I loved learning, so for the most part I welcomed the approaching Fall. 

 August brought an out-of-town shopping day to find school clothes and shoes for my sisters and me.  Girls were not permitted to wear pants to school back then, so skirts and dresses were the order of the day.  Then came the exciting trip to the local variety store (otherwise known as the "dime store" or "5 & 10") for school supplies.  I am amazed at what we could buy for five dollars back then... tablets, pencils, crayons, scissors, paste, a ruler, a small pack of Kleenex tissues, and of course the pre-requisite cigar box to store them in.  There were no backpacks, we carried our supplies in our arms... and when we reached high school level we lugged heavy textbooks home for study that way too!

 Back in those days there wasn't registration for kids who had attended before. You simply showed up on the first day of school with the supplies required for your grade level  as listed in the local newspaper.  If you lived anywhere in town it was assumed you walked to and from school, mom didn't drop you off and pick you up afterwards. It might be healthier if kids did a little more walking now! 

Our school was a huge, old, three-story building constructed of granite blocks with many long narrow windows (which I was to spend hours looking out of and daydreaming as I grew bored with the slow pace of learning in the classroom).  Air-conditioning was unheard of.  It was miserably hot when school started in August, and just as hot when the term finished at the end of May, but there was always recess to look forward to, followed by milk breaks... chocolate milk if your family could afford five cents instead of three.

 Our town at that time was large enough to require two classrooms for each grade, and sometimes three. The first day was always a nervous time... would you get the fun teacher or the reputed "mean" one, the young one or the one who'd been teaching since the dinosaur days?  Would any of your friends be in the same room as you?  Would you be seated at your desks in alphabetical order, and who would you end up next to?

The first few days were busy with learning the ropes and rules, then it was time to settle into the business of another year of school... and to begin counting down 'til Christmas vacation!

In retrospect, life was so very simple then, at least it was in my world. I know for many children the story was much different, a new school every year and sometimes mid-year, never the opportunity to settle in, make friends, or hit your stride. My heart goes out to them, and to the kids who really struggled in school, for whom it was a torturous experience.  Teaching methods and classroom conduct have changed a lot since then, much for the better I'm sure, but I wish they'd still put some emphasis on the "3R"s... reading, writing, and arithmetic.  I am horrified at what we see on job applications from high school graduates today!  I also wish parents still taught their children proper classroom behavior so teachers could spend less time dealing with acting out and more time teaching.  The same goes with over-zealous government regulation which as turned teaching into producing test-score results, rather than ensuring kids are actually learning something and developing a love of learning along the way. 

I miss those old days, I think most of us do.  The wonders of technology and the Internet have changed the process of education in ways we never could have imagined, but I'm betting that first day is just brings just as much excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety as it did back then!  I'll be watching out for kids in the cross-walks in the coming weeks, I hope you will too!

22 comments:

  1. Not time for the leaf change quite yet, at least not here in the epicenter of Fall Foliage Nirvana. But the County Fair is on and everything changes when it's over: the weather cooler, the days start to shorten, etc., and the leaf change is not far behind.

    Oy.

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    1. How I miss trees and leaves of any color, Ron! We were in Tennessee late last fall just in time to experience roadsides of brilliant color, it was breathtaking! The County Fair is coming up here soon, this weekend we have the Celtic Games and Faire, always fun to attend! :-)

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  2. OH I so love how you described the days gone by and getting ready. I too have some similair memories of days gone by. I agree with all that you have shared with us down memory lane. So wishes for those days gone by. Life seemed so much simplier.
    Blessings

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    1. Those were "the good ol' days", Bethe. I honestly think that today's kids are missing out on a special part of growing up, with summers free to run and play, and school days that weren't jammed packed with extra-curricular activities and homework. There was still time for friends, family, and good books! :-)

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  3. I too, love the fall season, and everything about it! I too have happy memories of grade school days. In fact my whole childhood was charmed in many ways! We had our share of trials and hardships...but I had a wonderful mother who loved us and protected us, and who took us to church and taught us manners and such.

    I liked your memories...several of them were the same as mine!

    Happy Saturday!

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

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    1. Fall is one of my favorite times too, Linda, not only is it full of good memories, but it means the weather here will finally begin to cool down to tolerable, and the air will take on a new scent. I grew up not realizing how many children had much harder lives than we did, even though ours wasn't perfect. I am grateful for all my parents did to take care of us, teach us, and encourage us.

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  4. Hi Josie :) ~~ Yes, it is also the time when football starts. Our Texans will be playing the 49ers here tonight starting at seven. It will be a good game even if it is for exhibition only.
    ..

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    1. Ahh yes, how could I leave out football, Jim?! It is one of my husband's favorites of fall too! Needless to say, he is born and bred Texan proud! :-)

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  5. Autumn is very nostalgic in general. There is so much I love about it, and have written a lot of autumnal poems. I always feel very reflective at this time of year. Great post!

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    1. I agree, Annie, autumn is a wonderful time of things growing old, hearts turning to memories, and minds to reflection. I prefer this season to all the others, since although Spring is a beautiful awakening I know it will soon turn to the stifling heat of summer. I think I have an autumn frame of mind. :-)

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  6. I don't know if I really 'miss' those days, but we must be about the same age! I have each and every one of those memories, most of them fond, except I'm not a mid-westerner!

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    1. I'm probably a bit older at 58 Joanne, but I think these memories hold true for most of us that are over 30. :-) Most of my primary school years were pretty good, though I can't really say that holds true for the years that came after. I wouldn't want to go back and relive those times, but I do think there are some values from back then that made more sense than what we are seeing now.

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  7. Josie, this post painted such vivid pictures of your school days. It also brought to mind that Spawn will be starting high school in September.
    All those memories you wrote about, being in the same class as friends, what teacher will take the class etc, are all running rampant in is head and I'm so nervous for him, because I remember feeling that way too.
    I love learning and thankfully, that's been passed down to him so he should be fine.

    Having taught in various schools, I agree with you totally that teaching has become more about producing high test-score results, than teaching itself. Such a shame, because ultimately it's our kids that are affected.

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    1. I think I was more nervous, or at least as nervous, as my children when they started school, then Jr. High, and then high school. You want so badly for everything to go well for them. The good part is that young people are far more adaptive and optimistic and I'm believing that Spawn will do great once he gets settled in. How could he not, with all your love and support behind him?! :-)

      Teachers don't get to do what they love most and do best anymore, Lily... teach! I've had more than a few friends who have retired early or changed careers because of that, loosing really good teachers for students that desperately need them. So very wrong, as are the meager salaries teachers are paid to educate our most prized possessions... our chldren!

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  8. Spring may be the time of birth and looking ahead, but fall seems to be the season of looking back. I also always enjoyed going back to school; I remember friends thinking I was just a little bit odd.

    This year, for the first time in a very long time, I will be returning to school myself, and while I still have that old feeling of excitement, I am also reliving those old nerves that you speak of. Now there is no hope of sharing rooms with old friends; instead I nervously wonder if I am too old and may have forgotten how to be a student. But there is no denying I'm looking forward to the opportunity to begin new learning.

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    1. I enjoyed school too, Cheri, often feeling bored by the end of summer. I loved learning new things... I still do! Yay for you, returning to school is a wonderful thing, I'll send lots of positive thoughts your way for the new year and will look forward to hearing how it goes! You can do this!!

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  9. how nice to have good memories of those days

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    1. Not all my growing up memories are good ones, Shimon, but I think nostalgia helps to weed out the sadder ones and focus on the things that were good. I did well in school, it came easy to me, and I behaved well too, so I got along well with the teachers. I often related to them better than I did my fellow-students.

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  10. I loved this. Brought back memories for me as well. When you mentioned the school supplies and the paste...do you remember the paste that had the little stick thing in the lid? I can recall the smell of that stuff even now! Funny what we remember.

    I also greatly appreciated what you said about classroom behavior and teaching today. It is SO different. As an educator, and now an educator of educators, it is harder and harder to be enthusiastic about the profession due to just what you mentioned - the behavior of the kids now and the lack of respect, the lack of support from parents and the overemphasis on testing. There are still so many hardworking teachers though, that do their best to try and keep learning fun and motivating.

    Love this post!

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    1. I do remember those messy jars of paste, Carrie and how some kids loved to eat it!! Are you old enough to remember the smell of ditto ink from worksheets freshly printed off the ditto machine? Papa Bear does. I often sat with my paper pressed against my face! I'd love to smell that now! :-)

      You are absolutely right that there are still many hard-working, committed teachers who will make all the difference to one child and to many! We all have teachers who made all the difference in our young lives! I started out once to be a teacher, I wish I would have continued, I think I would have made a good one!

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  11. This reminds me so much of the way the school terms mirrored the changing of the seasons. There was a sense of security to it for me - as well as a feeling of excitement. There isn't as much as an adult that marks the passage of the year for me. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. That's really true, Selma, I think I felt secure in that routine too, and yes, school marked the seasons... beginning, holiday, and ending, and summertime for break! Seasons are really hard to define here in Texas, we laughingly say it depends on how hard the dirt is blowing. Summer is hell hot, but the rest is kind of non-descript, except once in awhile you can smell a bit of the season change in the air, and oh how I love it! I miss the very marked seasons of Dakota where I grew up!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)