It's been a long time since I've been back to school. Even then, it was low key. Summer was over. Again. That was back when summer was really summer.
You remember summer, don't you?
We went back to school on the Tuesday after Labor Day. That weekend, we went to Sears&Roebuck and bought a few pair of blue pants and white shirts.
And a belt.
Not sure why it hurt so much to wear a belt.
We bought a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes at Kinney's. White low tops. So boring by today's standards.
Got a haircut at Art's Barber Shop on State Street.
"Style it," I'd say to Art the Barber. I'm sure he was laughing behind the chair at my curly mop of red hair which he last cut before summer vacation in May. Art was a small man about the size of a first-grader. He made me nervous with that big razor in his hand to shave my neck.
Art cut my hair the same way every time with very little style to it.
I looked like a show poodle.
Bald on the back and sides, and a curly red mop on top.
We were back to school, with our hearts still in summer mode.
Ready or not.
Nobody asked for my back-to-school advice. But I have plenty to offer from my experience on how to survive the first few weeks of school.Imagination is still a boy's best friend.
Young and old boys.
The imaginary,10-question survey was seeking advice from former students and graduates on how to survive the first few weeks of school.
We never survived the first few weeks of school.
School survived us, I think.
So, go ahead. Ask me anything about school.
1.What is your advice for a smooth first day and first few weeks of school?
Before choosing a desk, always check under the table top for souvenirs and surprises stuck from last spring. Gum. Spit wads. Carvings. Get the school year off to a clean start.
Don't bring an apple for your new teacher the first few weeks. Classmates will make fun of you. Save the sucking up until around Thanksgiving when you'll really need it.
2. What is your advice for good study habits?
Don't listen to music through your headphones while studying. I always thought music helped me focus. Wrong. There's a reason I know all the lyrics to every song on Springsteen's "Born to Run" but never quite grasped new math.
3.Did you like school uniforms or feel it oppressed your freedom of expression?
I love school uniforms. A school uniform was one less decision to make every morning. I wish we had uniforms in everyday adult life. Khaki pants. Golf shirts. Boat shoes. Maybe we do but it's not official?
For the record, my freedom of expression usually got me detention at school and grounded at home.
4. What kind of lunch box did you have as a kid?
I was tough on lunch boxes so I had quite a few. My favorite was a "Munsters"until I lost the cap of the Thermos. There was a "Green Hornet," too. I was not into superheroes. My mom thought I'd like it because it was "green" and I was Irish. My all-time favorite was a baseball lunch box that had photos of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente on it. Lost that one, too.
5. Did you take your lunch or buy school lunch?
A little of both. My mom put a stop to it when she found out I was eating my packed lunch and also buying a school lunch. I was a big-boned kid!
Still have that problem today when I bring my lunch to work. I've eaten it by 9 a.m. and I'm out to lunch by noon.
6. Any advice on homework?
Yes. Do it.
7. Any advice for students and cell phones?
Don't forget how to talk to others. Look them in the eyes. Real words. Facial expressions. Animation! Someday you'll have to take a speech or public speaking course. They won't allow you to pass by texting.
8. What were the characteristics of your favorite teachers?
The ones who had fun. They laughed along with us. They understood that not every boy learned exactly the same way, at the same time, from the same lessons. No labels.They were OK that we were a little fidgety in class, and stared out the window occasionally, and came in with mud on our uniform pants after recess. We were boys. No excuses necessary.
9. Any advice to a young student who likes to write?
Keep writing. No matter what you choose to do in life, you'll write. And keep reading. The best way to be a good writer is to read good writing.
10. Any regrets?
Not really. I wished I would have listened more and laughed less. And laughed more and listened less. Depends on the subject. I wish I would have realized there's plenty of time for work and play. The secret in life is balance. In school, I was always lopsided on the side of good recess.