Harley Hay

Harley Hay: Do you remember going back to school?

It’s funny, after all these years of not being in school, the year still seems to start in September. I still seem to think of the annual calendar beginning in September and ending in June and I haven’t gathered up my binders and a fistful of Bics and headed to school since about two years after the Big Bang.

But this week the munchkins and munchkettes are (mostly) heading back to those imposing educational edifices, staggering along with 40 pounds of the required instruments of learning stuffed into bulging backpacks. But I was wondering – with all those computers and iPads and TV screens and digital voodoo that dominates even the elementary classrooms these days, just what kind of stuff is on the school supplies list these days?

So I turned to the trusted source of all local knowledge for the answer: my friend, Michael Dawe. Just kidding this time, besides, I think Michael has my number blocked. No, I turned to the interweb of course, and found the Red Deer recommended school supplies list. This was interesting on account of the Better Half that I haven’t had to think about school supplies for our two university grad Rotten Kids since cell phones were invented and something called “social media” made the whole world angry, cynical and jaded (which, by the way, would make a great name for a law firm!)

I found it fascinating (but I’m easily fascinated) that there are 14 items on the “School Start” supplies list for Grade 1, and 21 required by Grade 5 teachers. They range from a 10 pack of “Crayola Original Thick Washable Markers,” and a 12 pack of “Staedtler Norica HB #2 Pencils (pre-sharpened)” to “Maxell Stereo Headphones,” and a “Logitech Optical Wired Mouse” – and this if for the Grade One-ers!

This got me remembering – or at least trying to squint back into the misty fog of those South School days when the world was shiny and school was (mostly) an exciting adventure. You know, before life beat you up a little, and told you to grow up.

I remember those little bottles of Lepage’s glue with the orangey-red rubber top that was angled and had a slit in it so you could sort of brush the glue out, which still somehow always got on my desk and fingers and Linda Tomalty’s hair. (Linda had the misfortune of sitting in front of me.)

I remember the Pink Pearl erasers that we poked a hole in the middle of so we could spin it on the pointy end of our pencils. I remember the teacher drawing lines on the blackboard (which was actually black, not green) with a clever wood and wire device that held five pieces of evenly-spaced chalk. I remember one year in school we made book covers out of brown paper bags. Do they still have brown paper bags? Do they still have books?

Remember the clunky behemoth 16 mm film projectors? The folding movie screens up front of the darkened classroom, the rhythmic whirring of the projector throwing its beam of light. Falling asleep during the classroom movie on plant photosynthesis.

Remember those oh-so-fancy Sheaffer Cartridge pens and trying to put in the Navy or Peacock Blue tube ink cartridges? Remember how it was impossible to get the ink stains off of your hands, clothes and Linda Tomalty’s hair?

Remember wooden pencil cases? Mine had a nifty thin wooden top that slid open. I wonder if they still have those. I could use one on my desk, you know, just so I can feel like it’s back-to-school time again.

Then I can look forward to recess.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.