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School memories last through the years

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With some rare spare time on my hands, I spent an hour or so over the weekend wandering through one of our local superstores.

In front of me, going up and down the aisles, was a mom with her young son, obviously stocking up on school supplies. Mom was loading pencils, crayons, paste and construction paper into the cart. The little guy pondered what he wanted on his lunch box: cars, trains, Spiderman or SpongeBob. He looked longingly at one with some bizarre images of a scary looking rock group; mom said no.

For whatever it was worth, I told him my vote was for SpongeBob as I steered my cart around them. He said thanks.

That day reminded of a time, long ago, when I first got to go shopping with my mom for kindergarten school supplies.

She picked out a 24-pack box of Crayolas; I tried to hold out for 64. Mom said no. Realizing 24 was a step up from my previous eight-pack, made large for clumsy little fingers, I gave in, vowing I would treat them with much more respect than I had my art supplies in the past.

Then there was the rug business. Puzzled, I asked why I would need a rug in kindergarten as she looked through the simple braided variety in practical colors. I was horrified when she said it was for nap-time.

That was almost a deal-breaker for me. I had never been a good nap-taker and certainly didn’t expect to do something so “baby-ish” in school.

Trying to find some positive in a troubling situation, I asked if I could at least have a bright red rug; I got brown and beige.

Even though it was a much easier time with considerably less pressure, I can still feel the anticipation and anxiety. Would I be successful in this first step into academia or would I be forced to return home, a failure, after my first semester? Those were exciting times.

What are your first memories of school? Some of your neighbors shared their experiences.

Hugh Jacovich, Hammond: Taking my lunch to school. That was the most special part of the day — like going on picnic every day. Would it be PB&J, ham and cheese or bologna? Would mom pack an ordinary apple or, please God, a Twinkie or cupcake. On special occasions, she’d include both…a cause for celebration!

Stella Vollmer, Merrillville: Several weeks before Mother’s Day, our teacher asked us to bring in pictures of ourselves. Excited, we wondered what on earth we would do with them. Well, it was the ever-popular macaroni picture frame, meant to give as a special present to our moms. I worked meticulously, or so I thought. We left the glue to dry overnight but when I picked mine up the next day, half the pasta fell off. The kids helped me pick it up and then worked alongside me glue it back on. How kind that was!

Kendra Nelson, Gary: My worst fear came true. My mom wasn’t there to pick me up on time. She was detained by a traffic backup — no cell phone in those days — and came almost 20 minutes late. My teacher sat down on the steps with me and we sang songs until mom arrived.



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