One of my favorite things about going back to school when I was a kid was shopping for school supplies. Receiving that list of things we needed for the year was almost as exciting as seeing my friends once again.
At the end of the first day of school, when my brothers and I came home with our lists, our family would make a foray to the store to get what we needed. Pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, paper, book covers, binders … a whirlwind of assorted supplies that made the return to school tolerable – for a while at least. Until the newness wore off and the pencils and crayons broke and the pens ran out of ink and the book covers, carefully put on, tore and the binders got too crammed with notes and mimeographs (remember those?).
We got the practical stuff, of course, but there was also fun stuff to get. Like lunchboxes. Remember tin lunchboxes? They are quite the collectors’ items these days. Don’t laugh, but my favorite lunchbox was a hand-me-down from my brother that featured submarines. I was really into the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (loved Richard Basehart!) and fascinated with the Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and the first to travel under the North Pole. OK, I was a geek.
Even when I went to college, the excitement of the new semester was enhanced by the gathering of supplies. Each class got its own spiral notebook, with enough pages for taking notes and for writing my “excerpts” (scenes from manuscripts I was working on) when class got too boring. In college, there was the added expense and intrigue of buying textbooks for my classes. It wasn’t until my junior year that I figured out I could get some of my books through interlibrary loans. I could renew them over and over again and not have to shell out money for them. The only drawback was that I couldn’t underline or highlight pertinent passages and words in them. When I was helping Dan buy books for college, I couldn’t believe the prices. And I thought $30 for a textbook was a lot!
Having no one to buy school supplies for now, I was excited to see that the YMCA is sponsoring a drive to provide backpacks for local children. The drive continues until Aug. 2. I had a lot of fun going to the dollar store and stocking up on pens, pencils, folders, binders, paper, crayons and glue sticks … just like old times. I turned my collection in to the Y last week with gratitude that I could help someone else start the new school year off right – and with a rather diabolic smile that said, “Here you go … I don’t have to go to school next month – but you do! Bwah-hah-hah!”