Remembrance of School Clothes Past

Remembrance of School Clothes Past

“I have enough clothes and shoes and I never need to go shopping again,” said no girl, ever.     —Anonymous

I heard a school bus pass by the other morning.

Now, my child is grown, but there’s something about that sound that acts like the starting bell at the Kentucky Derby.  It’s a visceral urge to get going, get moving, and most especially to get “back to school” clothes.

Those lumbering yellow vehicles set off a feeding frenzy at the malls.   But why do I feel myself entitled to “school clothes,” too?  I’m not going!


Yet I find myself feeling nostalgic for itchy plaid jumpers,  brand new, too tight shoes that will give me blisters, the smell of freshly sharpened #2 pencils,  a pink rubber eraser;  Is this a sort of  learned response?  It feels positively primitive.

I want a book bag.  I want a lunch box with Marcia from the Brady Bunch on it.

The glossy catalogs of beautiful fall offerings spill from my engorged mailbox; coupons, sales, lovely shoes, coats, tops, sweaters, skirts, pants….their tempting wares coaxing me to buy, spend, accumulate more of what I already own, because “Cooler Days Are Just Around The Corner!!”  The alarm clock is those big yellow busses whose rumble seems to say, “Winter is coming, Stock up, Stock up!”

Whether this is an elemental hibernation impulse or acquired experience from growing up in the 60s and 70s I really couldn’t say.  You had to scramble to get “school supplies” together the night before (don’t forget the brown paper bags to cover your books!)


Your mom took you and your brother to Sears the day before and you got new outfits, new shoes that pinched, book bags with pen cases and new binders with reams of fresh paper.  You sharpened up enough number two pencils for an army of kids.

There was a baloney sandwich on Wonder bread, a quarter for milk and an apple in your Partridge Family or GI Joe (“with Kung Fu Grip!”) lunchbox.  (If you were really lucky, a Twinkie or a Yodel was tucked in there, too!)

So I will give in.  I will get up early and go to the mall.  I will rummage through the racks and find some new fall goodies and bring my spoils back home to spread out on the rug to gloat over,  just like …well, just like the night before school if I’m being honest here.

Maybe while I am getting a few new things I’ll pop a couple of #2 pencils and a few composition notebooks into the bag too.

Hey, you never know.  They may come in handy.

 70s fashion                                                    1970s_teen_pattern02

By Anne Ambuhl

One Responseto “Remembrance of School Clothes Past”

  1. Lesley says:

    Ah yes, back to school, where the perfect outfit would transform me into a popular hippie chick straight out of Haight Ashbury, Perhaps there would be a sensitive long haired boy who would quote Joni Mitchell lyrics to me? Not a chance, this was Fairfield County in 1969 and hippies didn’t make it ro Lily Pulitzer land for several more years. So my faded bell bottom jeans with embroidered panels, turquoise jewelry and gauze embroidered peasant shirt just made me a pariah in the county of Prepster pink and green

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *