Once upon a time - the way all good stories begin - I wore plaid dresses, the occasional pleated skirt with a white blouse or a sweater, knee high socks and patent leather shoes to school. It dates me but when I attended elementary school, girls could not wear pants or jeans to school. In the winter, if it was cold and snowy, we could show up wearing "snow pants" but we had to remove them when we reached the cloak room where we hung up our coats.

Once upon a time - the way all good stories begin - I wore plaid dresses, the occasional pleated skirt with a white blouse or a sweater, knee high socks and patent leather shoes to school. It dates me but when I attended elementary school, girls could not wear pants or jeans to school. In the winter, if it was cold and snowy, we could show up wearing "snow pants" but we had to remove them when we reached the cloak room where we hung up our coats.

My school supplies were simple, Big Chief tablets, pencils, watercolor paints, crayons, a wooden ruler, a pair of scissors and Elmer's glue. Sometimes we had to have a package of manilla paper too. If we had a box, it was made of pressed cardboard, not plastic. As I grew older, I also had pens, spiral notebooks, sometimes a fountain pen, and lined notebook paper. During my first grade year, I remember one of my high school cousins having notebook paper and I was intrigued. I called it "high school paper" for a long time.

We started school the day after Labor Day, in early September. It wasn't until I moved to Neosho that my school year began in August, but it was late August, probably a week or so before Labor Day.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for Neosho students. For my son, it's the first day of his senior year so it's my last year as a school parent too.

Times change, kids grow up, but life continues on.

Reading was my favorite subject in school from the first. I read at school and I read voraciously at home as well. My parents read to me from an early age but once I could read for myself, my horizons broadened from our old brick house to encompass the world.

I decided I wanted to become an author while I was still in elementary school. I often share the fact that my first attempt at a novel was written in ink on wide-lined notebook paper in the back of my blue pressed cardboard binder in the fifth grade.

It doesn't seem so long ago that I was starting my senior year, in the fall of 1978 but many years have passed.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that when I was a high school senior there were no computers, laptops, cell phones, video games, cell phones or DVD players. We didn't even have cable at home and my biggest entertainments, once the homework was done, were reading, writing, and listening to music. I had my own stereo by then, a Christmas present during my junior year. I listened to my LP records and some 8-track tapes. Each weekend, I listened to Casey Kasem count down the Top 40.

We had one wall telephone, a Ma Bell standard black model, that hung between the kitchen and our dining area. If someone called and we weren't home or couldn't answer it time, there was no voice mail and we didn't have an answering machine.

It's a different world then than now. Times and life seems harder but I'm not sure if that's just age or if it's the current situations in my life and our nation.

It's going to be a memorable year for Patrick and for our family in many ways.

I'm reminded of a favorite hymn at church, Lord of the Dance, with the line "and the dances goes on."

Life is a dance and it goes on, from my school days to my son's and onward.

 

Lee Ann Murphy writes a column for the Neosho Daily News and is a staff writer for the paper.