Calendar not always a sign of season changes

BY BOB WACHS, News + Record Staff
Posted 8/2/19

News flash: Don’t look now, but summer is over.

Not officially. It’s not September 21, when the calendar says autumn starts. We haven’t hit Labor Day yet. Folks are still going to the beach …

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Calendar not always a sign of season changes

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Posted

News flash: Don’t look now, but summer is over.

Not officially. It’s not September 21, when the calendar says autumn starts. We haven’t hit Labor Day yet. Folks are still going to the beach or mountains or Disney Whatever for vacations.

But summer is over. In lots of ways.

Especially in the hearts and minds of many Americans and their commerce and business.

How can I make such a statement, you may ask? (Or not.)

It’s because the newspapers and mail and television programming are full of...wait for it...“Back to School” items, some of which might be bargains.

Fact of the matter is those advertisements have been going on for weeks, seemingly almost back to when the school year ended and summer started. And if that’s the measure for when seasons change, then be informed that in some places it’s already the Christmas season. But that’s another story for another time.

“Back to School” shopping means different things. For some, it’s a trip to the clothing store for new duds. Interesting how some 7-year-olds will have their eternal destinies ruined if they don’t have cutting edge fashions where a $4 T-shirt is on sale for $198. As a kid, for me “Back to School” clothes meant the bargain basement of Belk’s in downtown Raleigh, where at least if I suffered quietly enough Mama would take me to the lunch counter for a grilled cheese sandwich with some of those little pickles on top.

For others, it’s school supplies, which in the dark ages of my youth meant paper and pencils, preferably the Blue Horse lined paper (where you got points for each horse head to trade in later for a secret decoder ring) and a bundle of yellow No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils with the erasers you could chew off during your algebra exam. Today, of course, for many, “supplies” means the latest left-handed gadget gizmo that will allow you to search for information Big Tech wants you to have to further this agenda or that one.

And for some, in a nod to how the world has changed, “Back to School” means a new set of wheels so you’ll look good pulling into the high school parking area that looks more like a used car sales lot. That, in large part, is a generational thing, of course. When I was 16, some of my buddies had rides of their own, most often a 383 ’65 Plymouth Sport Fury. There was the occasional Camaro or Mustang or ’64 390 Ford Galaxie or even a 4-speed dual quad posi-traction 409.

I, on the other hand, had a 1964 6-cylinder Ford Falcon station wagon, 3-speed on the column, a second car bought by my folks to supplement our family truckster. It had a radio, thankfully, so I could at least pick up WKIX 850 AM, at least until the sun went down. But I wanted more. So, I verbally petitioned my father at the beginning of my senior year of high school to what a good idea it would be for him to upgrade my ride. Imagine my pleasure when he said to me, “I’ve been thinking. You’re right. I’m going to make it possible for you to go to school every day in a $40,000 (or whatever of that day) vehicle. It’s yellow and stops in front of the house every morning. And it’ll bring you home in the afternoon, as well.”

Fortunately, he didn’t sell my Falcon.

Once the details are handled, though, it really is back to school. And while some things change through the years, others don’t.

For the folks in year-round classes, it’s business as usual. Others see new things added. Through the years, for instance, our little family has acquired six grandchildren. Numbers one and two are veterans of this school thing. Number three went to a half-day pre-kindergarten program last year that she loved and that helped her blossom. This week, she started a Kindergarten Camp, sort of an orientation program for the real thing.

She’s attending the same school as a fourth-generation student that saw her father and aunt, grandmother and great-granny pass through the halls, although her halls are not the ones that were there years ago. For days, she talked excitedly about the upcoming event. Named friends she would see. Spoke of eating lunch and playing and coloring and the like.

Came the first day. Fairly soon after the school day began, it dawned on her that her folks had left. She was not especially pleased. She got over it, with the love and care from the staff. But it reminded me of a day some almost 40 years ago when I was summoned to that school because the same realization had come to her aunt on her initial foray into higher education.

She also got over her concerns and went on the do well but in a strange sort of way, I find that routine a bit comforting as it dawned on me that rites of passage can be times to hold on tightly and also to let go, you know – the old “roots and wings” thing we can give our children and grandchildren.

This year, when you do “back to school,” don’t lose sight of that opportunity when you’re buying the latest electronic do-dad or designer backpack.

And don’t worry; there’s still plenty of time for your Christmas shopping. Don’t let it eat up Thanksgiving.

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