September Memories

There was always a ritual for Back to School. My sister and I looked forward to it at the end of August.  By now, summer had worn thin; we were bored and anxious to get back to school to see our friends. And, we wanted new clothes to start the school year.
 Every September 2nd, Mom, my sister and I headed to the local shopping center - there were no indoor malls near us - for our Back-To-School outfits.  We always got three new dresses. (In those days, girls didn't wear pants to school.)  Why three?  One for each day of the first week of school - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of Labor Day week.  It was an all day adventure, making the most of a taxi ride since neither of my parents drove or had a car.

We'd try on dozens of dresses as Mom waited patiently, until we settled on just the right ones.  Then it was on to shoe shopping, again trying on endless pairs until the perfect shoes were found.  Once we had them, we'd get new socks and underwear to go with it all.  Depending on the fashion of the time, we'd also get hairbands, barrettes, or bows  to enhance our new "dos".  We'd get haircuts or perms, to match the whims of style.    
Then it was on to school supplies.  Brand new notebooks, loose leaf binders, pencils, pens, rulers, crayons and construction paper.  I took almost as much care selecting these mundane items.  To me, the sight and smell of fresh paper and newly sharpened pencils was anything but mundane.  It meant a new beginning, a fresh start to try something different.

We'd be exhausted after the long day of shopping.  We'd pick up an order of Chicken Chop Suey from the Chinese restaurant before getting the cab back home.

Laying everything out on the bed when we got home filled me with pride and satisfaction.  With new outfits - lovingly chosen - and fresh supplies stacked and ready, I could conquer the world.  At least the K-8 world!

Do today's kids get that same feeling about back to school shopping?  Dressing up in your best clothes, the pride of having your own "gear" and feeling a sense of anticipation?  I still get "goose-bumpy" when I see those Back-To-School displays.  With my own children grown and out on their own, I've had to channel my enthusiasm in a positive direction. So, every year, I load up on notebooks, pencils and all the goodies. Only now, I fill up two backpacks and donate them to OPERATION BACKPACK to give other children a chance to feel that special feeling.  Everyone should have the thrill of a "fresh start" and a new beginning. 

Happy September.


  1. the kids I talked to at my new school sure do get that goose-bumbly feeling. and that includes some of the older teens....some even talked about the smell of fall!

  2. There is nothing more important that the exact-right first day outfit. Nothing.

  3. Oh I remember those back to school shopping trips, and the new shoes! Love it.

  4. I remember those shopping trips, too. I even remember the jingle for the commercial for "Robert Hall" clothes. "School bells ring and children sing, it's back to Robert Hall again. For better clothes your mother knows, it's back to Robert Hall again." And the school supplies! Those little boxes of "reinforcements" for the holes in the looseleaf paper, 4 cents a box!


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