From Pipi’s Pasture: The first day of school
When our grandchildren were young and living in Craig, I never missed the first day of school. I drove in to Sunset School early, because I enjoyed watching all the students as they arrived with their parents. The children had new haircuts, wore new clothes (sometimes, their shoes even had that new sound), and carried their brand new backpacks filled with school supplies. Sometimes, their parents carried boxes of Kleenex tissue. The kindergartners often had tears in their eyes — Dad and Mom, too.
I gave the grandchildren hugs, wished them a great new school year, and took their pictures. After they went inside, I drove home, deep in thoughts of the first days of school when my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch at Morapos. Mom took our pictures on the first day of school, too.
My sister — Charlotte (Allum), who is two years younger — and I attended school together for most of the eight years I went to the Morapos School.
The school is located just down the road from the ranch, so we kids walked to school each morning, but that first day, Mom drove us. School usually started just after Labor Day, and the schoolyard smelled of sagebrush and rabbit brush, perhaps more so than usual, because it had just been cut away from the buildings on the clean-up day to get everything ready for the new school year.
We wore new dresses Mom had sewn for us. We probably had new shoes, too. In those days, we didn’t have backpacks, but we did have new Chief tablets, pencils, and crayons.
Some years, we had the same teacher as the year before, but if we had a new teacher, we kids were a little nervous. That first day, we met the teacher, who wrote down our names and recorded other information about us. We got our books and found our desks with tops that lifted up so we could store our supplies inside. I think we got our books that first day, too. As I remember, some years, we went home after that; other years, we stayed at school all day.
Through the years, the number of students at the Morapos School ranged from two to perhaps 10, and they might have been in first through eighth grade. There was no kindergarten, though 5-year-olds often visited the school in the spring.
If we did stay at school that first day, we also carried new lunchboxes we had carefully selected for their artwork. In those days, cowboys were popular, and lunchboxes were decorated with their pictures. I had a Gene Autry lunchbox, and Charlotte had a Roy Rogers lunchbox. We put our lunchboxes in the anteroom of the schoolhouse, with the drinking water and cups.
Lunch consisted of sandwiches made with a spread of potted meat, chopped-up boiled eggs, and mayonnaise on sandwich bread, purchased at the store and saved just for school lunches. Colored, wafer-like cookies were also store-bought and saved for lunches. We also had an apple or other piece of fruit.
Years ago or present times — the first day of school is special.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.