Sniffing crayons

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured ...

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured in Easton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I walk into Walmart and veer over toward the aisles with signs advertising “back to school” sales, I realize, I want school supplies.  I always do at this time of year.  Call me crazy, but I love paper products and I feel like I’m missing out on something.

It’s like a new season; a fresh start to a new year of learning, meeting new people and new teachers and a year to be a better student and classmate.  That is how I always viewed it anyway.

I can smell the crayons and recall the careful searching for just the right box.  In kindergarten, there were the chubby crayons available in limited colors, for little fingers not yet aware of their strength.  Next was the bigger box sporting a few more colors and finally, you graduated to the big box, the one with the sharpener embedded in the back (I remember sharpening them down so small that my mom would tell me I wasn’t going to have anything left to color with).  When you got to these, you’d hit the mother lode of crayons.  The crayon eaters (there was one in every class) seemed especially drawn to these large colorful boxes.

Back when I was in elementary, picking out the wooden (cigar box) or tin crayon box was one of the most painstaking decisions to be made and I will venture to say many mothers must have lost their patience with children like me.

Browsing through the back to school aisles now, although still nostalgic, is not quite so familiar anymore.  I don’t recognize the super heroes and the cartoon-like images look more ghoulish or scary to me than Scooby doo or Superman.  There is also a shelf full of calculators.  My girls had to have these for math class.  I was always taught that I took math for those times when I didn’t have one of these and had to think for myself.  Oh well, math was my least favorite subject and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to use it often.

I still love the paper aisle.  I just see page after page I can fill.  I am compelled to pick up a couple of cute notebooks for myself so I don’t feel completely left out.  I get a green one and a pink one sporting cute little owls.  This takes me back to Mrs. Green’s class where we wrote for the first 10 minutes of class, honing our writing skills.  There are fond memories there.

Strolling past the pencils conjures up memories of students sharpening pencils when the sharpener hung from the wall.  The kids who couldn’t sit still wanted to sharpen all 24 of theirs every day.  If I were a teacher, that would have got on my last nerve.  I remember the smell of lead and wood shavings to this day.  Then there was the poor boy that leaned too far back in his chair and fell on his pencil, lodging it in his derriere, and requiring medical attention.  We all thought he’d be dead by morning, as our parents had constantly warned us about the dire consequences of lead in our mouths or in our bloodstream.

Then, I see the lunch boxes.  I was never one of the children who used one, but always thought it would be cool.  I suffered though cafeteria food until high school and then we overloaded cars and trucks and went to McDonalds.

In all honesty, I enjoyed school and can summon all kinds of great memories from my time as a student.  Those days are long gone for me and even for my children, but I don’t think an August will ever go by without me waxing nostalgic over school supplies.

I think maybe I’ll go and buy myself a new outfit and some shoes too, in keeping with the spirit of things.

Mitch Teemley

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