First was the shopping trip to get back to school clothes and supplies. Mom would take us out and we’d get those packs of paper, notebooks (spiral and 3 ring binder), cellophane wrapped flats of #2 Ticonderoga Pencils (and eventually pens – we even went early to pens when the whole ‘erasable ink craze’ swept the mid-west). We’d get the extra thick Lees and eventually persuade Mom to pop the extra for Levis’ when we became fashion conscious (though my friends who knew me then would doubt I was ever conscious of fashion) in junior high. For a big part of high school I would wear only “Painter’s Pants”, usually by Oshkosh. I’m not sure why I liked those pants so much other than the multiple pockets and the loose fit. I still like lots of pockets.
Mom would take pictures of me and my brother as we boarded the bus for that first day back in the new grade. This continued into the start of high school. I was a nervous bundle of potential as I jumped on the bus with my book bag, trombone, chin covered in zits, braces on my teeth and my glasses that slowly turned dark in the sun and light in the shade but always seemed to be in the wrong transition inside or out. I remember those first days as magical and exciting: new faces, new classes, and a fresh page to start on. Or mostly fresh. We still had our social class structure: the burnouts, the preppies, the jocks, the raa-raas, the nerds. By the end of that first day back there was usually a mixture of dread and anticipation for the year ahead.
The other thing that sticks with me from those old days that I looked forward to at summers end was the fall preview of the new cartoon season on Saturday mornings on the 3 big networks. Cable has changed all this but back in the day they’d get some TV family to do a fake episode that previewed all the cartoons that were returning or coming to TV for the first time. I loved cartoons and Saturday mornings. I’ll go on record as admitting that continued on pretty much up through, um, the advent of cable and the death of the Saturday a.m. cartoon fest (somewhen after the birth of my firstborn).
I watched shows like H.R. Puffnstuff, Lidsville, all things Batman and the Justice League (despising the Wonder Twins). I loved the Herculoids, Space Ghost (before he became a talk show host), Shazam/Isis Hour, Fat Albert, Tarzan, Bugs Bunny, the Jetsons. Sigh. I was a cartoon junkie and I lived for my Saturday morning fix.
I miss the rhythm of life from those days. I miss that feeling of excitement of starting that new year that put me one year closer to the end of my school days. I miss Johnny Quest. I don’t miss the zits. I don’t miss the awkwardness of liking someone and dying a thousand deaths about telling them and a thousand more when they went out with someone who had the confidence to ask. I miss being in the first class to use a new textbook. I miss the feeling I had discovering the Lord of the Rings for the first time in the school library. I don’t miss boring teachers. I do miss Tede. I wouldn’t go back if I could but I do like rummaging around in the trunk of my memories at this time of year as summer surrenders to school bells.