Back To School
I remember August when I was a kid. Besides playing Monopoly and beginning to tire of the popsicle man who came around in the afternoon, there would come a day when my mother would take me to Ninth Street to get ready to go back to school. The area is now known as the Italian Market and has changed some in sixty or sixty-five years. In addition to the gorgeous veal visible in some shop windows and the caged chickens (this was long before "free range") in front of others, there were shops that had rows of plaid dresses hanging from racks outside. There was a man who would intone, "Look 'em over, ladies!" to my mother and the other mothers who had come to outfit their daughters for that important First Day. We'd pick out usually three new cotton dresses and then go down the street a bit for a pair of school shoes. And sometimes a pair of Sunday shoes.
Besides wanting to look right for that day after Labor Day, there is a need for supplies. My kids didn't get a new backpack every year, but they got all the other stuff: the notebooks, pencils, dividers, those kinds of things.
A few years ago, Susan posted on Facebook something about for those of us who no longer have children to outfit for back-to-school, would we be interested in purchasing and filling a backpack for a student whose family would find this an overwhelming expense.
It's funny how ingrained back-to-school shopping is. The joy I took picking out and filling a backpack that went to a promising young woman was immense. So I put it on my calendar as a repeat for the first week in August. And in another week, I'll drive out to Lancaster County, pay homage to The Old Country Store, meet up with Susan, turn over this year's filled backpack, and finish up with a traditional delicious lunch at Kling House. It's become one of my favorite days of the year.
You might want to try it. I suspect that if you went to any public school with a new, filled backpack, the guidance counselor would welcome you with open arms. And you'd enable a young person to start off the new year with just a little less anxiety.