From Pipi’s Pasture: Back-to-school memories
School will be starting in a little over a week, and people are wondering, “Where did the summer go?” The rush is on to buy school clothes and back-to-school supplies and to perhaps do some of the things that were planned for summer but didn’t get done.
Thoughts of back-to-school get my engines revved up, too. I can’t help it after all the years of teaching, getting our children ready for school and even being there with our grandchildren on their first days of school. But, strangely enough, talk of back-to-school mostly triggers memories of those many years past when my siblings and I attended the Morapos School, a one-room country school.
Two memories stand out, both associated with getting ready for school. The first is of the days right before school started when the community parents, mostly moms because dads were still putting up second-cutting hay, met on the school grounds to get the schoolhouse and teacherage (where the teacher stayed) cleaned up and ready to go.
Over the summer the vegetation had grown up around the buildings so our moms used axes and other such tools to cut it back, making easy access to the buildings’ doors. They cleared a path to the outhouse and cut sagebrush and rabbit brush away from the swings and slide. And it’s the “smells” of the brush that I remember, forever embedded in my brain’s memory. Whenever I get a whiff of sagebrush and rabbit brush, it takes me back to those days.
The other thing I remember back-to-school is getting our clothes and supplies ready. I think that we probably shopped for new shoes, but Mom sewed dresses for my sisters and me. (In those days we didn’t wear pants to school unless it was winter, and even then we probably wore pants under our dresses.) Our sister Darlene remembers the dress that Mom sewed for her to wear on her very first day of school — ever, but I remember only one of my outfits. It was a skirt that was made from a print that resembled an Indian design. It was done in bright colors, and I wore the skirt with a white peasant blouse that I believe had been purchased.
I loved that skirt. I was probably in the seventh or eighth grade, which is probably why I have remembered this outfit. Each afternoon after school I changed out of my school clothes and put on chore clothes before getting a snack and heading for the pasture to bring the cow in for evening milking. Since we didn’t have an automatic washer and dryer, we tried to wear our school clothes more than one day.
Before school started, we went shopping for school supplies. I believe that books were provided, but we bought pencils, crayons, a Big Chief Tablet and maybe notebook paper. Just think — we had no cellphones, calculators or other electronic devices. We didn’t have backpacks, either. Again, there were those wonderful “smells,” this time of brand new crayons and books. Before school started we set our supplies on the table, carefully took the crayons from the boxes and marveled at the different colors. But we never used any of the supplies before that first day of school.
What wonderful memories!