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Letter: Without the latest gadgets, schoolchildren used to get by

Without the latest gadgets, schoolchildren used to get by

If the weight of my children’s school supplies correlates directly to the quality of their education, I’d be thrilled. The cost of this year’s notebooks, pens, highlighters, tissues, glues and so on has tempted me to cancel Christmas.

In the 1960s, my folks bought me a pair of Buster Brown shoes at the August sale at the Airport Plaza. The deal came with a pencil box, a pencil, a ruler, an eraser and a compass plus five wax crayons. Used wisely, all of this would last you a year. My school, Mother of Divine Grace, supplied the paper. Only one kid in class had the big box of 48 crayons. She never shared her “flesh” color, so all of our art featured folks with vibrant orange faces.

We had no required stock of cotton swabs, storage bags or antibiotic wipes. To ensure sanitation, Bobby Dippold and I comprised the school’s vomit patrol. If a kid in any grade got sick, we would hit the ground running with a pail of pencil shavings. We’d dispense it onto the offending material, then return later to shovel it away.

Nobody was allergic to peanuts, gluten, red dye or anything else. Some kids freely ate the white paste from tubs that were stored at the back of the classroom. We used brown paper bags to cover our textbooks, which had been borrowed from the public schools.

Our dog-eared wall maps were outdated and hadn’t changed since before the two world wars.

With so little money spent on supplies, it’s a wonder how the majority of us became contributing citizens. In fact, the nation’s high school class of 1965 – my class – has been recognized as the “best educated” by numbers of studies.

It does make one wonder what exactly was in that white school paste.

Joseph N. Weiss, Ph.D.


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