The other evening I received a photo on my phone that my daughter had just taken of our granddaughter, now seven years-old, who is starting second grade. She was sitting on the floor of their living room with all her brand spanking new school supplies. Just by looking at that photo I could smell her box of 16 crayons, the freshness of the pack of lined white writing paper and the never opened before various colored paper pocket folders.

I told my daughter how much that photo made me think of her. She loved new school supplies. Oh the joy of varied colored highlighter markers and pink, yellow and blue paper clips.

When I was little we didn’t get too much variety but we tried. There was the customary pack of gold No. 2 pencils, the colored pocket folders for each class, pink erasers, school paste in the younger years (yes, I did eat it) and Elmer’s school glue when we were older.

In the late 60s, it was the colored pencils of tie-dye appearance and vibrant neon colors. In higher grades, we could use pens and some markers and I let the doodling begin. I am one of biggest doodlers ever to graduate from Black River Falls High School. Those pristine folders were attacked with a vengeance when a day dreaming moment (which was quite often) hit me in class. I would write and draw all over those once-new folders. Then the edges would get worn from use and the shoving of school work and notes in them. The pockets would rip and I’d scotch tape them because I didn’t want to dispose of all that was designed on the front and back of my delightful folder.

I saw my granddaughter’s pile of these folders in the photo and I could just feel the rush of it all. I remember the smell of new pencils being sharpened. The fresh wood and lead mixed together still makes me feel heady with hope and the excitement of newness.

In my children’s days it was trapper keepers and colored pens and fine tip markers. They had dividers and in my daughter’s case were very organized. Not so much my son. There was the search for the perfect backpacks. We never used them in grade school, but now kids have them in day care and preschool. My daughter filled hers so full every day that her father had to devise new ways to strengthen her straps until we finally mid-year had to purchase a new one.

My kid’s pocket folders were glossy with Lisa Franks art and Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them. None of this plain solid stuff for 10 cents a folder would do then. But that was the times.

I used to have a lunch box. It was red plaid. My daughter never ate school lunch. Ever the picky eater, but she used paper bags. No box for her. My son loved hot lunch as he pronounced one night at the supper table when he was in first grade and he said one of his pals wouldn’t like much so he shared his stuff with him and the other guys at their table.

My granddaughter had a pack of glue sticks, not one but quite a few. It would be like my daughter to have backup, unlike her own mother. But looking at my granddaughter in that photo brought back so many memories of me, my kids and now my grandkids. The items vary a little, but the feelings are the same. A new school year, meeting new friends, new teachers, hope and of course a few let downs, grades, frustration and that pile of new school supplies to walk in with you through the doors once again.

Ah…I can just smell the crayon boxes being opened. Each color having a pointed fresh tip just waiting to be broken in. What a rush.

Until next time…

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