Back to School

By The Spectator, John Maloney

Well, it’s that time of year when mother’s rejoice and have a sigh of relief and a time when children begin to moan and sigh. No, it’s not a trip to the dentist. It’s worse than that. School days!

Yes, it’s time to hit the books again. Gone are the carefree days of summer. Fall is around the corner! It’s time to look for the back-pack and make sure you know where the bus will pick you up.

How things have changed over the yeas. When I was a kid going back to school, we didn’t know what a back-pack was. The closest thing to it was an army backpack from World War I.

The first thing mom bought us was a new pencil box, probably from Woolworth’s five and ten cents store. What a thrill-a new pencil box. Some were three tiered, meaning it had three drawers. The box was card board, of course! In the pencil box was of course, some #2 pencils with the eraser on top. Some crayons, a pencil sharpener, a wooden pen with some pen nibs or pen prints, a protractor, a compass, a ruler, two kinds of erasers, one for ink and one to erase pencil marks, some paper clips and maybe some rubber bands.

What, no ball point pens! I went to school before the ball point pen was invented. We used real ink. Every desk in class had an ink well and you write with it. Some say, to this day, that handwriting was more legible in those days than it is today.

We didn’t have to worry about a bus schedule because in grammar school we walked to school, no matter what the weather was, come hell or high water as the saying was.

After getting the pencil box, we usually got a new school bag to carry our books. It was usually made of leather and looked something a lawyer would carry. We had nothing to hang on our backs.

The next thing, was a pair of good shoes for school. I’m talking about the thirties and early forties. Mom would take us to Thom McAn where the shoes cost $2.98 and they seemed to last forever!

One of the first assignments when we returned to school was to write a composition about “How I Spent My Summer.” Well, very few of us, during the depression went on exotic trips to California, Lake George, the Hampton’s, Bermuda or the Outer Banks!

In my neighborhood, most of us hung around with a trip now and then to the Polo rounds to see the Giants or Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks. A big deal would be to go to Palisades Amusements Park, situated on the cliffs in Jersey overlooking the Hudson River at 125th Street.

Some brave souls might even take a swim in the Hudson River. No one got sick swimming there. We might even take that long train ride to Rockaway Beach! That was fun or to Coney Island which was always crowded. Everyone got a sun burn and that’s why today most old-timers visit skin specialists!

We build wooden wagons, we skated and we used every hour of the summer. We were never bored! And there was no TV to watch. (That was probably a blessing!)

Kids had nicknames in those days. I can still remember Butch, Limey, Swede, Chuckles, Harpo, Sonny, Kid Dappo, Cowboy, Buster, Mickey, Beetle, Moon, Peanuts, Diddles, Whitey, Lefty, Skippy, Jackie, Benny, Red, Moe, Buddy, Pee Wee, Fatse, Targan, March and Bucky.

Those days are gone but never forgotten!

A little something extra! Some song titles and what they remind me of!

All or Nothing at All – What the IRS sings to us taxpayers.

Who’s Sorry Now – All those who voted for President Obama.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Plans for the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

I’ll Walk Alone – A guy who forgot to use deodorant!

I Apologize – President Obama’s theme song!

Send in the Clowns – A joint session of Congress!

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