There are back-to-school sales everywhere. I feel like George C. Scott in the movie “Patton.” Remember that one scene when Ike is planning the invasion of Europe and Patton is in charge of an imaginary unit in England? Scott looks out the window of his elaborate headquarters and laments, “The whole world is at war and I’m not part of it!” Yeah. I feel like that.
I loved back to school shopping when I was a kid. I was a nerd before the word was coined. I can still close my eyes and smell those fresh Crayola crayons. I always had to make do with the eight-pack, which had none of those exotic colors like aqua and tangerine. It was just the plain old blues and reds and oranges for this little linthead.
I loved stocking up on No. 2 pencils and Blue Horse notebook paper, and I have been known to spend days deciding what three-ring binder I would choose to carry me through the school year. I know y’all remember Blue Horse notebook paper — and composition books. Every year I started out saving the trading coupons that came on the front of Blue Horse products, but not once — not one stinking time — can I remember actually trading them in for a prize. My mama would drive up to the redemption center at Belvedere Plaza from time to time to trade in her S&H Green Stamps, but I never got anything with my Blue Horse labels.
What else did we have to buy in the area of school supplies? It is really hard to remember. Co-Cola sent somebody to school each year to talk to us about hygiene and encourage us to work hard and be nice to one another. They always gave everybody a wooden ruler and a red Co-Cola pencil. The teachers had all the Elmer’s glue and library paste we would need for various projects during the school year. I much preferred to use Elmer’s glue, by the way. The paste on those wide tongue depressors made my mouth feel funny, even if I didn’t try to eat the paste.
Once in a great while the teacher might ask parents to send in a package of construction paper or a pair of safety scissors, but for the most part we were pretty self-contained at Porterdale School. What we didn’t have or what the Bibb didn’t provide, I guess we just made do without.
I do remember one PTA meeting where Craig Hertwig’s mama made a scene because the teachers started keeping the toilet paper in the rooms to save on waste. You had to ask for it when you headed to the bathroom, and Mrs. Hertwig thought that was an embarrassing invasion of privacy. I think she won, too, because it wasn’t long after that when the urinals were, once again, full of soggy rolls of TP.
Back to school shopping with my children was more challenging. Their supply lists were a lot longer than mine. By the time they came along teachers had learned to bribe kids with bonus points if they would bring Kleenex and hand sanitizer to school for everyone to use. Some schools, I hear, adopted socialism and wanted everyone to bring in crayons, paper, notebooks and Scotch tape to be shared communally. We never had that in Rockdale County while my kids were in school. They just brought their own stuff and loaned it to the kids who didn’t have something like we had always done.
By the time my children made it to high school the lists were getting a little longer and a little more expensive. Most years there were special calculators to be purchased that came with pretty impressive price tags. I suppose learning is a lot more complicated in the 21st century than it was when Ike was president instead of supreme allied commander.
Of course I had my own list of back-to-school supplies, as a teacher. I bet I have spent a thousand dollars on Starbursts and Jolly Ranchers over the past dozen years. You’d be amazed how hard a 16-year-old will study if they think they have a chance of getting to eat candy in class if they answer a question correctly.
Well, I am done with school and so are two of my three children. I was almost certain I wouldn’t have to do any back-to-school shopping this week. Then I heard from Jenna, who is a senior in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the great and wonderful University of Georgia, hallowed be thy name. She needed just one tiny little item. Being a doting father, I complied with her request.
I wonder how many Blue Horse points come with a $2,000 Apple MacBook?
Have a great school year. I think I’m going fishing.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.