Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Five: Back to School

Do schools start later in California? Mother Laura, at RevGalBlogPals, writes this week:

It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far?
Sort of, but it hasn't really started yet. Onkel Hankie Pants is now on the sub list for at least one local high school (they all have different requests as far as references so it's a slow process) but, not surprisingly, hasn't been called yet, since school has only been in session since 2 September.  I'm sure he'll report on it when the time comes. He's also going to take a class on Keats in Senior College from an excellent, 90-ish teacher from whom he's taken several other classes. That starts next week.  In my 'virtual household,' of adult children, Sisterfilms' classes started again 25 August.  She's enjoying her three film classes so far, a new program was announced which will make it much easier for her to end up with a bachelor's degree, and she's even beginning to think about graduate school.  Cordeliaknits is not in school, first time in 7 years, but is nannying two under-1-year-olds, which is sort of like being a teacher (teaching them to nap at the same time is her priority right now!)

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid?
I was glad to go back to school, just as I was glad when school was out in  June.  Summers were delightfully unstructured then, and that was fun, but I also enjoyed school, for the most part.  

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now?
Back-to-school shopping was much more of a ritual in my family of origin than when my kids were small, I think. Also back-to-school sewing! My mother made most of my clothes when I was in early elementary school, and quite a lot of them all through high school and even college.  (She made my sister's clothes too, my brothers', not so much, although I recall her making striped t-shirts, which were then called polo shirts for some reason, at least once.)
The ritual in our family was blueberry muffins for breakfast on the first day of school. I think this may have started out as blueberry pancakes but, given my kids' desire to sleep as late as possible, and their wide age separation (5 years between each pair) causing differing school schedules, muffins worked out better.

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc? 
Oh, yes! I'm pretty sure it was 2nd grade and it wasn't technically back-to-school, since we moved in late October, but it was for starting a new school. Although I liked the dresses my mother made, I was really thrilled to get my first skirt with no suspenders attached, which we bought at the PX in Wiesbaden, Germany.  It was a Black Watch tartan pleated skirt; I think I wore a white blouse with it.  Now you must know, you young folks, that in my childhood it was implicitly believed that young girls needed suspenders on their skirts, or they would fall down. Sometimes the suspenders were attached and made of the same fabric as the skirt, or you could get elastic ones that were transferable. Getting a skirt with no suspenders made me feel very grown up -- just as, and I don't think this happened for another 3 years or so, getting my first pair of loafers, i.e. shoes with no laces.
I think I had a Lone Ranger lunchbox once, or was it Gene Autry? Lost in the mists of time.

5. What was your best year of school?
It would be a toss-up between 3rd grade and 10th grade, although there were good things in each year.
Third grade at Hoyt S. Vandenberg Elementary in Wiesbaden, Germany (and if anyone has a photo of that school I'd sure like one) : my teacher was Mr. Thomas Foster. My class was the (err-hmm) gifted and talented class, and he had free rein with the curriculum. We went through the official 3rd grade speller in days instead of weeks, and thereafter our spelling/vocabulary words were taken from films we watched, stories we read, and especially field trips. For some reason, learning to spell 'metamorphosis' after a film on butterflies has stayed in my memory. We also learned multiplication and I remember my mother drilling me on the times tables.  The field trips -- I remember going to a vineyard and then to a Sekt winery (German version of champagne) -- we kids just got to have the unfermented grape juice. The only unfortunate thing was that that was the year I got all the childhood diseases then common (measles, mumps, chicken pox) and missed several of the trips. 
Sophomore year at Roger Ludlowe High in Fairfield, Connecticut -- because the junior high and high school had switched places, this was our first year in the high school environment and it was exciting to us to meet the upperclassmen (and women) and participate in various activities, in my case, The Fox, the student newspaper.  I had one of the best social studies teachers ever, Jack Strauss of blessed memory, and once again field trips were a highlight -- we saw Beyond the Fringe on Broadway and also went into the city to see A Man for All Seasons, AND our Brooklyn-born teacher made sure we got to eat at the Automat.  I also got to attend a student journalists' convention at Columbia.  The bad thing that happened that year took place during English class, when the announcement came over the PA that President Kennedy had been shot. Still, the Intellectual Diaries Mr. Strauss had us keep helped us process that experience. (I don't think journaling in school was nearly as common then as it is now.)
Well, this got to be long! But maybe it will make up for several days of not blogging.


RevDrKate said...

Great play! Loved hearing all the memories. It sounds like you had some really great teachers and school experiences.

SpiritMists said...

Lone Ranger lunch box! Fun! Great play. Glad I didn't grow up in the era of suspenders.

Jan said...

I am so glad to read your Friday Five, because I have seen such similarities in our comments on other blogs. We're about the same age and both grew up as military brats.

Mother Laura said...

Wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing. And a great picture too.

I never heard of suspenders with skirts.

SonShineIn said...

When did I ever want to "sleep as late as possible"? I do now, of course, but I remember being up pretty early for school most of the time.

The other school experience in your "virtual household" is that The Collector is teaching another ExCo class this semester. I don't suppose I should say about what, to preserve anonymity and stuff.

Auntie Knickers said...

Yes, SonShineIn is correct. He did get up very early, making it his habit to watch the 6 am news with Bob Schieffer at around age 9. It was really the girls who were the slugabeds. So SonShineIn got the hot muffins and they got the cold ones.

EmJayDee said...

I love the muffin/ pancake idea. That's more a holiday treat in our home