School supplies weren't just for school

The other day at work I printed off several pages of a document and, not wanting to waste a staple, I folded down the left corner of the sheets, then tore the center of that fold and folded it down again. As good as a paper clip!


Better yet, it reminded me that I hadn’t done that since my school days and that school is getting ready to start back for the year.

I was always ready for fall classes, and mine actually were in the fall, not late summer as they are now.

I welcomed the new clothes and shoes my parents bought us after a summer of running ragged and barefoot. Especially, I loved the new school supplies.

A new notebook. Not just any notebook, but a cloth- or vinyl-covered three-ring binder filled with packets of genuine Blue Horse paper. Composition books with their metal spiral rings and several sections. Fresh pencils and erasers and ink pens.

Later on, there were protractors and compasses and all the other implements of math, but let’s not dwell on those.

In my later elementary school days, Blue Horse notebooks were challenged by Nifty, which had two posts at the top to hold top-punched paper that was held down by magnets. I resisted this fad, even though, being left-handed, I found it easier to write without smearing the pencil lead or ink across the page with my moving hand. No, I was a traditionalist.

Those supplies came in handy for other tasks. On leisurely afternoons before classes adjourned in early June, we would make spitballs of notebook paper, and, using a drinking straw, fire them at the big glass globes overhead that lit the room. There they would stick until the heat dried them and they fell on the heads of classmates ahead of us, who thought the sky was falling. (Kids, don’t try this at school.)

Another time-waster involving our supplies was to write or draw on the top of a pencil eraser with a ballpoint pen and then stamp the wet ink as many times across a page as we could before it dried. (Students today have computers, but we had good old No. 2s.)

Notebook paper was good for making airplanes and holding contests outside, or for passing notes in class. The girls would make “cootie catchers” with them.

I remember unwrapping a Sugar Daddy at recess and not being able to eat it all, so I wrapped it in a sheet of paper until the next recess. Sugar Daddy was a hard, flat, chewy caramel candy on a stick, and it stuck to the paper like glue. It took most of the next recess to wash the paper off.

Eventually, I learned to keep the wrapper. Even­tually.

On the playground, after we had lost our baseball in the woods, we would construct our own by wrapping a rock in many sheets of notebook paper and then securing it with tape from the principal’s office. The game was often delayed so we could apply a fresh layer of tape.

Oh, and supplies were good for schoolwork, too.