Monday, October 3, 2011

Flashback - School Days

First Day of Second Grade
September 1958

I had hoped to post an official "first day" photo in early September, but I couldn't find a picture to scan. My oldest sister, Evelyn made my dress (a gorgeous blue with a white collar) as well as a dress for herself out of the same fabric for a Home Ec project the previous year. It is hard to tell because of the tall grass, but I actually am wearing "dress shoes." Normally, my school shoes were saddle oxfords - the shoes that never wore out no matter how hard I tried. 

Girls wore dresses to school unless the weather was extremely cold when they could wear long pants under their dress and remove them when arriving at school. I don't remember being allowed to wear slacks all day until I was in junior high.  

In my hands are the items necessary for school: a Big Chief writing tablet, a pencil bag with pencils, ruler, a small box of crayons, and an eraser - no pens, no boxes of tissue, no glue (the classroom had a gallon jar filled with thick white paste, which some kids actually ate), as the school did not require multiple items like so many do today. I don't remember anyone carrying a backpack to school; maybe, they didn't exist then. 

I also remember that my lunch money (all coins) was tied in one of my mother's handkerchiefs. Everyone ate hot lunch at school unless they lived in town and went home for lunch. 

What supplies do you remember taking on the first day of elementary school?

I kept my report cards from Grades 1 - 12. All fit into similar 4 x 6 inch envelopes (elementary cards were folded  in half, but the junior high and high school reports were on single cards) which allowed the cards to stay clean and undamaged as they were carried home multiple times during the school year. Students were required to have a parent sign the back of the card before they returned the card and envelope to the school. 

Do you still have your school report cards?

In the top photo, the farmhouse is visible in the background. The black, tar paper was replaced with pink aluminum siding when I was in high school. 


  1. Oh yes. Saddle shoes as we called them...

    Unfortunately, a lot of my childhood keepsakes got lost when my father's office flooded.

  2. Cute picture! When I was in second grade the girls sometimes carried book bags we called satchels. The boys used something like a bungie cord to strap around their books. I'm not sure what it was called. Backpacks were for camping and hiking back then.

  3. Love it! My sister made my dresses for me!! I always had nice dresses as she was always sewing for me. Yes I had those shoes too!! I walked 8 blocks to school. Had to walk home for lunch and I was always walking. I did wear pants to school...especially when it got cold! Don't have any report cards!!

  4. What a trip down memory lane!! I started school a bit later but we still had all those things. But we were allowed to wear pants :) You look so cute!

  5. Oh what lovely remembrances and a fabulous photo. I don't have any of my report cards - but I kept every single one of my daughters.

    And yes, I remember saddle shoes - we got a new pair at the start of every school year, with salt water sandals to wear in the summer. g

  6. Wowzer --- wonderful trip down memory lane. I figure I am lucky to know where I was living in 2nd grade. Norfolk, Va. Mom made my dresses except mine were often calico but very much like yours.

    As for pants, we weren't allowed to -- I can remember getting in trouble for wearing a culotte dress. It looked more dress than pants but I got in trouble anyway. When we moved to Ca. for my senior year I think we could wear culottes. Don't know if I have report cards from those days or not. Lots of fun ideas and memories surfaced because of this post. Thanks.

  7. awww Nancy you are adorable!!! You look so happy. I was always crying about school starting. You couldnt FIND a picture of me. I was busy bawling.......until about 4 th grade

  8. That is an amazing picture Nancy!!! I love it.
    Oh I remember wearing dresses to school also! I assume my shoes were black or brown, but honestly I don't remember 2nd grade. In fact the only thing I really remember was the lunch box with a thermos and and bobby socks.
    My mom did save my report cards. I may even have some.

  9. Nancy, this brought back good memories. I remember exactly what I was wearing the 1st day of 1st grade (no kindergarten for me)and we had such a grand time at school. I had a satchel & it was red & black plaid. Like you, I had the few simple supplies you mentioned. I think I did have Lepage's paste. it came in a plastic container with a "paddle" in the lid with which to spread the paste. I do have my report cards. My 1st teacher was Miss Gladys - what a great woman!

  10. I don't remember what we had for school supplies--not much. I did have a bookbag--it was plaid and was similar a briefcase--at least the handle was on top and the top folded over with buckles. We had to wear dresses until 6th grade I think. But no jeans until later on in high school.

  11. Neat memories, Nancy! Our report cards were in sleeves like the one in your picture. As you said, they went back and forth between school and home. The final ones of the year were mailed home. We sat on pins and needles waiting for them.

  12. Fun to remember those days - where did you grow up - what state? I went to a Lutheran Parochial school (Old German) in Illinois, and we wore pants/slacks under our dresses as well. Kinda wierd when I think about it, but I aways thought it was a German thing. ?? Interesting to hear that you also wore them under the dress. We didn't remove them at all. That would have been mid-'50s.

  13. Gosh, I think I still have my report cards. Haven't thought about them in a long, long time. I remember bringing in money to buy stamps for savings bonds. I didn't get to wear pants until the 7th grade. Oh, and the air raid drills...did you have do those? At the time we were not told why we were doing them...good thing!
    Nice stroll down memory lane :)


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