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Native Writes: School Daze

Posted: Friday, Aug 23rd, 2013

The past few weeks, the grandkids’ preparation for education have drawn my mind back to other family school days.

It’s fun because kids are kids, and whether they admit it or not, they’re excited for the first day back. It’s school daze, as each one doggedly demands his or her own “look.”

My first memory of going back to school is one of odors. Like a dentist’s office, the school had its distinctive odors.

Made to use the bathroom and wash my hands before entering the wide world of education, I noticed the smell of the greenish soap in the dispenser over the sink. The girl next to me smelled like Ivory soap and, despite spending 12 years in school with her, I still remember that soap odor.

It was first grade, administered at the hands of Jennie Heilman, who usually smelled like Evening in Paris.

Even the Big Chief tablet, No. 2 pencils, mucilage and art gum eraser had their own smells. We didn’t have long lists of supplies back then, and the school provided some things.

The new clothes I got smelled one way the first week and reeked of laundry soap ever after. Mrs. Heilman demanded that each student wear a hankie pinned to his or her shirt or dress and, believe me, the lacy squares I wore had their own smell. My aunts, who provided most of them, called it “a sachet.”

Each year after that was a mixture of sights, sounds and smells. Maybe I remember the odors most because my sense of smell long ago fell prey to sinus surgery. The U.S. Army is sorry, but the olfactory nerve got “nicked a little,” like being a little bit pregnant, the effects remain.

Please see complete article in today’s Valley Courier. To subscribe, call 719-589-2553.

For the complete article see the 08-24-2013 issue.

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