By August 4, 2017

Back to School: Then and Now

By Chris Prickett — Back to school is nothing like I remember. Maybe it’s euphoric recall, but I think I got one or two pairs of trousers, a couple of shirts, a fresh pair of “Chuckie-T’s” for gym class, and some socks and underwear to complete the ensemble. I don’t even think we had to buy our own pencils.

Today, there are mandatory checklists for every school and every grade.

Backpacks (which we had never even heard of) must be of military-grade material to withstand the weight of textbooks, binders, and other “necessities,” because there are no lockers. No lockers? They used to be their own little biology lesson—filled with microorganisms feeding on sweat socks and old salami sandwiches. Maybe I sniffed too much mimeograph fluid, but it’s just not anywhere near the same.

Dress code? We used to laugh at the Catholic school kids and their uniforms, but we “regular kids” had to wear shoes (no sneakers, tennies, or whatever you call them where you’re from), long pants and a shirt with sleeves.

What we call T-shirts now were called undershirts then, and you could only wear them under your shirt, except in gym class. OK, they did get a bit stinky, so maybe that change was for the good… except in many schools there’s no such thing as “gym class” anymore, so, yeah.

Male teachers wore ties, and female teachers wore dresses. I’m not sure if they went out and bought all new clothing for the first day of school, but teachers these days spend so much of their own money on supplies and such, it’s a miracle they have money for clothes at all. Perhaps this not-so-subtle hint will encourage you to ask your kid’s teacher what they might need for the upcoming school year. Even a box or two of tissues might bring a tear to their grateful eyes.


Over the Prickett Fence is a column in In&Out Magazine.

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