Saturday, September 12, 2009

School Clothes

Growing up in the Philadelphia area during the 1960’s, we were always on a traditional school calendar. The schedule where you went back to school the day after Labor Day. We always dreaded that last Monday night, because even though it was a holiday, it was also a school night…the first one of the year. Our school bedtimes kicked in, and the next day the freedom of summer would be over.

There was always one bright spot at the beginning of the year. The weekend before school started, we would go shopping for new school clothes. (This was back when we had school clothes and play clothes.) I still remember what it felt like to put on a brand new pair of pants, a stiff new shirt (button down with a collar was required in those days), and a new pair of shoes. Once the tags were unpinned (remember the straight-pin price tickets?), our new clothes were ready to go. They smelled new, and when we were allowed to choose the latest style, we felt like we looked really sharp on that first day back in class with our schoolmates.

Another highlight of the new school year came the evening after our first day of class. We came home armed with that year’s requirements for school supplies. What fun we had picking out a new 3-ring binder, subject dividers, book covers, pencils and erasers, rulers, notebook paper, and pencil cases. When we got back from the store, we got to organize everything and get our textbooks covered, all prepared for another year of hard studying.

Well, some things never change. Even though many schools in our area have moved to a year round schedule to accommodate a growing school population, and even though I’ve been out of school for many years, my mind still functions on a traditional schedule. After all, I had 13 years of public school, 4 years of college followed by 10 years as a public school teacher, and finally all those years raising 2 children through public school and college (all on a traditional schedule). Old habits are hard to break. As the August calendar page gives way to September, I still get that “fall” beginning-of-the-school-year feeling. And I get the urge for new “school clothes”. (OK, now it’s “work clothes”).

Because I travel so much for work, I have a set of clothes that is always ready for the suitcase. I never wear these clothes at home. Once laundered, they get folded and stacked on a shelf in my closet. When it’s time to pack, it’s a simple matter of selecting the appropriate number of slacks and shirts, and along with the underwear and socks, into the suitcase they go. My travel shoes, belt, sneakers, and my toiletries never even leave the suitcase. I even have separate gym clothes for travel.

Every September, having worn the same clothes on business trips for an entire year, I find that things are starting to look a bit worn, and sometimes I tire of wearing the same things over and over. So when that old “new school year” feeling kicks in, off to the store I go! I’m not a big shopper, but this is one time during the year that I check out the goods at a lot of stores, picking out new pants, shirts, and shoes to wear for the next year. Makes me feel like a kid again! And boy, do I feel sharp my first few times out wearing the new stuff!

Every other year in September, I get to satisfy my “new school supplies” urge by replacing my suitcase. I’ve found that no matter how high the quality, after two years of packing and unpacking, not to mention hundreds of trips through baggage claim, most any suitcase is going to break down enough as to require replacement. Again, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I check out the newest crop of luggage at all the stores, and after I make my selection, I take my new bag home and spend an hour or two figuring out the best way to organize all my travel stuff. It really reminds me of the old days getting my new school supplies organized for the new school year.

Like I said, some things never change! Once a kid, always a kid when that traditional school calendar says summer’s over and a brand new school year is about to begin!

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