Happy New Year. It's September Again.
The back to school ads have been running for weeks on the Net and TV and store aisles are already picked over for things to buy.
I used to have have a rather nostalgic view of this time of late summer. My memories of it as a kid were actually pretty good. Yeah, I was sad about summer ending and thought about all the things I didn't do and now I couldn't do - but I also liked buying school supplies.
I thought this was going to be the first September since I was 4 years old that I wasn't going back to school as a student or teacher. My internal clock and calendar hasn't really ever had a chance to consider January as the start of the year, because September has always been the start of the year.
But, it turns out I will be teaching a class after all.
Of course, school supplies in my childhood days meant a new blue 3-ring notebook, a filler pack of paper, and some pens.
When I was in elementary and high school, no one carried a backpack. You carried books.
I guess we were in better shape because now carrying your books seems to be a real issue in schools.
Back to school clothing was always a shopping trip. I imagine that girls spend more time and money on clothes and on picking out a first day of school outfit than guys did.
Of course, my first back to school shopping trips were with my mom. It seemed to me to be such a chore, but you wanted to make a good impression - on the teacher.
As I got older, I guess I must have given it some thought, but I can't recall doing much thinking about back to school clothing in high school. It was a time when jeans and a t-shirt were the uniform. How much could you do with that?
Shopping was basically just replacing worn out pants and shirts with ones that were newer but pretty much the same.
Nowadays (based on ads I see for male and female outfits) it seems that a lot of the clothing is pretty unisex and interchangeable.
A lot of parents of college students now give kids an Amazon.com Student Prime Account so they can do their own shopping.
I actually go back far enough that I recall when girls never wore pants to school. All skirts and dresses. I missed that later. I don't have daughters and don't spend much time in schools other than colleges, so I'm out of touch. Do girls ever wear dresses to school anymore? I see them in the ads too, but they look a little out of place.
When I was an undergrad at Rutgers, the standard outfit for guys was still jeans and a t-shirt. That doesn't seem to have changed much. I don't think that school shirts, caps and sweatshirts were as popular as they are today. They were seen as a bit too rah-rah and "establishment."
In my dorm, the wiring was so bad that we weren't allowed to have one of those little refrigerators (though we did). Microwaves were non-existent. No cable and few TV sets except in the lounges. No computers except in a few labs.
Now, those are all items to bring to college. I see in the college-oriented back-to-school ads flat screen TVs, coffeemakers, lots of laptops and real decorating items for beds and walls.
I took the blankets and sheets off my bed at home and brought them to my dorm. Yes, they were the wrong size, but so what? I took my posters from home and moved them to the dorm walls.
I did bring my stereo and records. Big speakers were big items. Now you see them on garbage pickup days on the curb. People just use their phone or a laptop and listen through little transistor-radio sized speakers or have some plug in speaker device.
A sign of spring on campus was people putting their speakers near their dorm window and blasting the campus with their musical taste. Annoying, but part of the experience.
I do know from outfitting my two sons at college that it costs a lot more for that first dorm room than I ever spent.
I think my biggest luxury item was that I had a bar set and some bar glasses. If you wanted a martini, I could make it and serve it properly.
The bar set was a gift from Uncle Phil. It wasn't that he was a booze hound or was even encouraging drinking. He and his wife just had class. If you were having a drink, you should do it right.
They never feature bar sets in the Back To School ads.