September 14, 2014

Five Fashion Fads From The Class Of '78

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I loved my moccasins. For one thing, they were as close to going barefoot as you could get. For another, they made you short, unlike the platform shoes and others of the day. I loved being short because I'd grown so fast in grade school that I was 5'2" long before the others hit their own growth spurts. I didn't get over feeling like a giantess until college.

Now, talk about uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, Dr. Scholl's "exercise sandals" were just the thing. I had one pair; I should've tried walking in them before I bought them. Because with every step, I kicked that shoe right off of my foot. I could've maimed a small child with those things!

I guess the "exercise" was your toes. While the shoes promoted their ability to slim the legs, the whole trick photo SchollsSandals.jpg was to keep your toes curled tight against the wood as you walked. I don't have great toes anyway, and my legs were fine back then. Dr. Scholl's sandals were a total bust for me.

Embroidered work shirts! Oh, these should never have gone away. They were men's work shirts, hence the name. I suppose in California and maybe New York they bought actual girls' denim shirts, but here you could get the work  photo EmbroideredShirt.jpg shirts at Sear's for about two dollars. The most popular designs included mushrooms, peace signs and flowers. My work shirt was a Christmas gift from my cousins Jana and Marla, who both did their embroidery on it. I still have the shirt, it escaped the Great Basement Clean-Up! Alas, it no longer fits. But there's no way I'd ever let it go.

There was a phase of down coats with removable sleeves, thus giving you the choice of a down vest. photo DownParka.jpg Now, I don't find that a puffy vest does me much good in sub-zero Kansas wind chills but damn if it doesn't look good. My coat was actually prettier than the one shown here, if you can believe it! It was light blue with snowflakes on it. We used to wear our vests in class.

There's no fashion without jewelry, and mood rings were it. They had temperature-sensitive paper in them; the paper went toward red if your hands were hotter, back to purple and almost black if your hands were cold. So these gems didn't really measure mood, they measured hand temperature.

 photo MoodRing.jpgI have to give props to our biology teacher who taught us that. He also taught us that we could alter our own mood rings by concentrating very hard on "warming" our hands mentally. I would picture opening the oven to remove a cake and that paper would start to change toward yellow and orange. It was early biofeedback, which was being researched here in Topeka at The Menninger Foundation.

I still have my mood ring, and it still works!

September 11, 2014

September 5, 2014

September 1, 2014

Back To School

I am certain I will always live mentally in the school year. That is, the first month of the "year" is September and the last is May. June, July and August are free, although August is tinged with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. Because school is starting! Every September I remember it all: the smells of the waxed halls and the new supplies, the noise of children, the Monday through Friday work-a-day that is the world of a child.
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First there was the getting to school. Our Safety Patrol wore orange sashes (the photo here is before my time, I can tell by the cars) and I so wanted to be one of them someday.

They also left school fifteen minutes early to get to their stations. Some Safety Patrol kids let it go to their heads, a bit like Hitler Youth, but these bigger kids kept us alive for our journey to and from school.

We didn't have desks in kindergarten (much to my dismay) but the pic on the right shows just the kind of desks we had when I was in first grade onward. The lids lifted up and could be real finger-pinchers, but never mind...I had a desk! Ours were so old that the hole in the middle on the top flat part was probably an inkwell, but we kept our glue in that. It was amazing how much those desks could hold!

They were also good for hiding one's head. I remember doing that but I forget the details of why.
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 photo HighschoolDesk.jpg Just by the way, the desk at the left was what we had by junior high school. They were easily adjustable and there was that basket under the seat...and they are so very streamlined...but they weren't desks like above. They were more like tables with chairs hooked on.

I don't know what's going on in the picture at the left, and it's way older than I am, but I remember putting our heads down on our desks for any number of reasons, all of which came back to the teacher being at the end of her rope.

However, we did sometimes do this when the teacher read to us.

In second grade, Mrs. Rhodes read the whole "Little House" series to us, starting on the first day of school. I already had passing familiarity with the books, but those after-lunch reading times were precious indeed.
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 photo SRA.jpg The SRA Reading Lab come into our classroom when I was in the fourth grade. You started at the front with the "lowest" level color and worked toward the back.

It was all self-monitored; you read the card, which was a story or some informational writing, and then took a short test to measure your comprehension.

But now that I think about it, there must've been some kind of teacher intervention or I would have cheated my way to the last color. Not that I would've had to cheat; I'm a good reader and always have been.

I say that last part with the assurance of someone who can't do math to save her life. I can read. 
Even as a grade-schooler, I had the presence of mind to wonder why our wall-mounted pencil sharpener had so many holes. What in the world was that smallest hole for, golf pencils?

And if they don't want you sharpening your crayons in the pencil sharpener, they darn well shouldn't have a hole that perfectly accommodates a crayon.
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 photo BigChiefTablet.jpg Oh, how I miss Big Chief tablets! They were 8.5 X 11 lined newsprint, perfect for "ordinary" work at school and for great stuff at home. If they still existed today, I'd buy in bulk and use them for everything.

When my husband and I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home And Museum in Mansfield, MO, we saw Laura's first words to the first book of her series (Little House In The Big Woods) and she wrote it on a Big Chief tablet. That took my breath away. A regular Big Chief tablet that she probably bought at the Mansfield drugstore!

What's good enough for Laura is better than perfect for me.