Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The First Day

The First Day
Covering Books
8.5" x 11"
We came home from school after that first day, loaded down with books, book covers, and our supplies. We didn't really have complaints of aching feet, but, often, there were blisters from those new shoes. (Tired, aching feet and legs came about the time of student teaching and later.)
We had listened to our teachers, some of whom had taught our partents, looked dreamily at the new young male teachers and wondered why a nice looking young female teacher would ever want to be a teacher. We looked at what our friends were doing, and wearing, wondered what we would wear to school the next day, checked out the other students in study hall or in our class to see if there might be someone new who might be cute and a possible boyfriend. But, no, it was pretty much the same, silly boys, year after year. We would have to go out of town to look for more mature, and cute, boys.
I looked out the window, no matter what side of the school we were on, and wished I were at home. I tried to listen, but that only lasted for so long. Soon, I was watching clouds, formations of airplanes as they flew over, the flag waving, my great-aunt sitting on her porch snapping peas or working in her yard, Mama and Bertie washing and hanging clothes on the clothesline in the back yard, and Daddy driving up the street from town to eat dinner. Paper and pencil would come out to write, or books to read from, but I started out writing, with two sheets of paper, one on top of the other. I drew girls or movies, on the bottom sheet, and slid it under my work when the teacher would approach. When the teacher stood by my desk, I pretended to be thinking really hard about my work.
Back at home at the end of the day, I got a drink of water, played with my cats a little, then lugged the books and supplies over to my friend's house next door. There, we spread out on the floor in her parent's bedroom, and covered our books with the brown paper covers with store advertising and sports schedules printed on them. My friend's covers always fit perfectly while mine were not quite right. One side would be too loose, one side so tight the books wouldn't close, or they would be off center . We didn't have Scotch tape as part of our supplies but we used white paste in a small jar, or, some years, we made our own with flour and water. Supplies were fairly simple. Scissors, two pencils, a box of crayons, or colored pencils if we were doing maps that year, a fountain pen and a bottle of ink. A tablet in lower grades, a notebook with notebook paper in later years. A protractor and compass were signs that students were now old enough to take Geometry. There were no backpacks, calculators, pencil bags, ball point pens, watercolors, or poster board for students. Some years, we had a cigar box to put our loose supplies in, that were obtained from any store where they sold cigars. We just had to ask. Later, there were wooden cigar boxes, which were really nice, but much heavier to have to carry around.
I thought I was really grown up when I got to have a blue cloth covered notebook and could use a fountain pen rather than pencil. As soon as books were covered, and notebook paper had been inserted in the notebook, names were put on the book covers. We thought we were really "slick" when we reversed the book covers, to show the plain side, and then wrote names all over those covers. Then we used fountain pen and ink to write names on the outside of the blue cloth notebooks. Those were added to all year or until the notebook fell apart and we had to get a new one. The teachers were not happy with our decorated book covers, though, and made us put on new covers, the correct way.
Now, I wonder why none of us ever thought to decorate those book covers with pictures or designs. We only copied each other in writing names on our books. (Never inside, though, except on the correct line inside the cover.) We didn't have art, and I don't remember but one other person doing any art work when we were in school. She had decided she wanted to be an artist, at one point. But, I don't recall ever seeing any art work that she did. We did have coloring books though.
My mother drew and painted, but she stopped when I was born, and didn't take art up again until I was a bit older. I wasn't exposed to drawing or art work at home, particularly, but I drew anyway. I thought of it as an escape, others looked at my drawing as something I was interested in.
We were taught to cherish and care for books and materials. We didn't dare put a mark in the school books, or even get a tear in the cover. It was really hard for me to use a highlighter or mark passages in the books I bought in later years. I still don't like to do that.
Of course, this was around the time of WWII, and there was a either a shortage or rationing of almost everything, including paper. War time followed the Depression, so people were still conserving and saving, trying to recover from those hard times.
The cost, as well as the way books are used and cared for today, have changed quite a bit. I still remember the anticipation of using that new package of notebook paper in the decorated notebook, of adding more names to my notebook and book covers, of dipping the fountain pen in ink and filling it, of going to the pencil sharpener for the first time and standing in line to sharpen my two pencils, the feel of paste on my fingers as I spread it on the corners of the book covers, and of wondering who I might have to sit by in class.
I don't have books to cover anymore, but I do have a notebook, with a fresh package of notebook paper to write on, when the notion strikes me. And, I have a grandson, to keep up with school work.
I have added a counter to my blog page. I thought it might be interesting to see where people are when they view my blog. I had seen that on several blogs and finally found how to add that on artist Nancy Standlee's ( Arlington, Texas) blog.
I hope that first day excitement and enthusiasm continues for you, and that tired feet recover soon. And, for others, I hope you get back into the rhythm of getting up early and sending the family off to school, and all the other schedules and rules that revolve around school.


Nancy Standlee said...

Cecelia, thanks for your comment on the NeoCounter. I love having that on my page. I love your watercolors, especially the one with the ferris wheel as it is a reminder of festivals in small towns in Texas in the summer.

Cecelia said...

Thanks, Nancy. The painting of the ferris wheel shows Sugar Loaf Mountain across the Brazos River from the county fair near Hearne, Texas. I added a blue hill, thinking of Bluebonnets in the spring. I worked with the art section of that fair for some years, and kept looking at the view at sunset. I have a wonderful old photo of a carnival in the street of my hometown, with a large ferris wheel in the center. Later they had carnivals in an empty lot the next street over. I had fun doing this, and started it as a demonstration for my students as they worked on fair entries.