Every year, at this time, our father got very excited because the time was coming to take us out for school supplies. We were four kids and he accompanied each and every one of us irregardless of age, grade or whether or not we wanted his company. Hard to believe, but he’d been looking forward to that day all summer. After our first day of school, each of us would have a list of needed supplies. These usually included:
loose leaf notebooks and paper, dividers and labels, reinforcements, perhaps graph paper
pencils (one or two)
soft gum eraser
Having been given textbooks 0n loan from the school, our father would fetch a pile of saved empty brown bags (from A & P or Bohack’s markets), clear off our oval kitchen table, turn the paper bags inside out and cut them open. Then, with perfect folds using no glue, no scotch tape, no staples or other fasteners, he would fashion a smooth, elegant, tight-fitting paper jacket for each. Pristine brown paper! (Well, clean for a while)
Our father accompanied us each to a stationary supply store (which is where we got these supplies in those days) as long as he could and when we were no longer students, he’d take his grandchildren shopping with the same glee. He took one of my nieces shopping for school supplies through her undergraduate years at NYU and would have continued accompanying her (and insisting on paying) through her Ph.D. had she not gone far away to Berkley and had he not died.
For anyone wondering why no backpacks or lunch boxes were on the list, please realize: We carried everything in our arms in those times and our lunch was packed in waxed paper and place, along with a paper napkin, into a small paper bag which was discarded when empty.