Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

August 2022

Everything Old

Shopping for school supplies sparked excitement, anticipation

by Corbin Crable


New academic year

Though we’ll soon be enjoying the final vestiges of summer, there’s another big event about which to be excited: the beginning of a new academic year.

Parents, of course, will soon rejoice because their kiddos will finally be out of the house for a while, and the kiddos themselves will be back at school, learning and finding their way into good-natured mischief with their friends.

If you’re like me, there are things about school to which you always looked forward (Hello? Am I the only one here who actually enjoyed school lunch? Especially those little square pizzas?).

When getting ready for the new school year, there was plenty to enjoy. I remember that, around late July, my elementary school posted lists in the front windows of which students would be learning under which teacher. The day those class lists were posted, it felt like checking the call-back list for a big stage production – you heaved an audible sigh of relief upon seeing your name listed under Mrs. Finney’s class, and you quickly scanned the list to find out which of your friends would be joining you in that classroom.

Or maybe you uttered a groan when you found your name on Mrs. Altweis’ class list. The anticipation on that day was palpable, and you either went home feeling relieved or heavy with a sense of dread.

Shopping for school supplies

But the best part of getting ready for another school year was going shopping for school supplies. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 1980s, when He-Man, the Thundercats and the Ghostbusters were all the rage among boys; the girls, meanwhile, had characters like Barbie, Rainbow Brite, and the Care Bears.

Thanks to the wonders of merchandising, these characters were seemingly everywhere – including notebooks, pencil cases, backpacks, lunch boxes, and Trapper Keepers (Do they still make those? Hmmm…I wonder…). These characters didn’t just help you make a new friend with similar interests, who watched intently as you withdrew your Smurfs pencil case from your backpack on the first day of school; they felt like status symbols that marked their owner as one of the cool kids.

“No, Mom, not that one!”

“No, Mom, not that one!” I remember protesting as my mother suggested a modestly decorated, generic lunchbox while we went shopping for school supplies at Kmart the summer I was about to enter the fifth grade. “I’ve gotta get the Ghostbusters lunchbox. I’ll look totally lame if I don’t have one!”

Well, I did get that Ghostbusters lunchbox, and, as predicted, my classmates took notice – especially the boy I had a crush on, who nodded at me as I proudly strode into class the next day.

“Hey, man, cool lunchbox,” he smiled as I walked by.

“Yeah, thanks,” I replied nonchalantly, trying to act as cool and composed as possible, while on the inside, I was grinning from ear to ear.

All of this goes to show that, as you’re browsing the aisles at the store this month, school supplies must be chosen carefully. After all, they just might spark a connection and create classroom friendships. Happy back-to-school shopping!

Contact Corbin Crable at​