Remember when there used to be a toy in the cereal box? And when cartoons were reserved for Saturday morning? And when we carried square plastic lunchboxes to school with the thermos inside?
My friend got store-bought cookies in her lunch. I thought she was so lucky. She told me a few years ago how she was jealous because I always had homemade cookies. Funny how we see things as kids.
I rode a little country school bus with our neighbours. There was no one my age. I sat in the back seat, right side and often read a book. My sister sat in the front seat. There was a hierarchy on the bus, based on age.
I had to play viola in the strings program at school, because only a violin or viola would fit on our little bus. I liked the cello.
On the third Wednesday of every month, we got off school an hour early and we would be allowed to go to the store and buy a treat for the busride home. It was the only time we were allowed to eat on the bus.
One time, the last day of school, everyone got off the bus at our farm. All the neighbours gathered and we had a community baseball game.
Later, we had new neighbours who loved to socialize. We had end-of -the year baseball games at their farm and a Halloween party. They turned their barn into a haunted house. It was so much fun.
I didn’t always like being a farm kid – as I got older, I felt isolated and wished I could do things with friends like the city kids. But we had our fun too…and now I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Boy, do your recollections prompt a lot of school memories for me. I too, carried a plastic lunchbox and thermos. I seem to remember it had a picture of Mary Poppins on it. I went to school before the era of backpacks and transported my books in a little brown leather satchel. I carried that in one hand and my lunch box in the other as I trudged up the road to school. I didn’t have bussing for elementary school. I could have taken a bus to high school but it meant walking a half mile away from school to catch the bus which didn’t make any sense. I also didn’t like the kids that rode the bus and therefore preferred to walk or ride my bike. I had about a 2km journey to get to the high school at the west end of town.
Mom alternated with homemade and store bought goodies in our lunches. The usual lunch was soup in the thermos, a sandwhich, a couple of cookies or squares and an apple or orange if in season. Sometimes we traded lunch items. One of my friends was a real picky eater and would go around trying to trade her whole lunch for cookies. She would sometimes eat 6-10 cookies for her lunch. Talk about a sugar fix. We got our lunch milk at school. It used to be delivered in little glass bottles with tinfoil lids that had a piece of cardboard under it. It was a pain in the butt to pry those lids off. We also didn’t like to get the milk in cold weather because it was often frozen and would taste funny when it thawed out. But the good thing was we had a choice of regular or chocolate milk. Chocolate milk cost a bit more so I was only allowed it once in a while. Those were the days that we used paper straws to drink the milk. The boys would save theirs to make pea shooters to annoy the heck out of us girls in class.
Saturday morning cartoons were mostly a winter thing for us. In the summer we could hardly wait to get outside. It was the morning that we were allowed to get our own breakfast which meant we could have what people would call today “junk” cereal – for me that was Sugar Pops and my brothers Captain Crunch. Since there were 3 of us kids and only one toy in the cereal box Mom enforced a rule that we had to keep track and take turns of who got the last toy.
I love my hometown and wouldn’t have left it if I could have found a decent job after graduation but being a small town with limited opportunities, limited travel and a recession economy at the time I had to move in order to launch my life. It took a while to feel at home in a big city but I realized after many years I was able to grow in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to if I had stayed in my hometown.