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School Supplies

In Springfield, Mo. where I grew up, our school started in September, right after Labor Day, if I recall correctly, and since our family never had an abundance of money, I suspect it was probably not August when we bought our school supplies, but more likely, it was the days just before the opening bell that we went to the store to buy these treasured items. That jaunt was one of the highlights of my year, for I loved school and everything that went with it, and I recall my delight when I became the owner of such precious items. It’s probably accurate to say a kind of euphoria overtook me at these times.

A couple of days ago when I went into our new Super WalMart here in Lake Havasu and passed through the school section, I spied a Pink Pearl eraser tucked in the company of scissors and paper clips and glue. I stopped, fingered the eraser package, and my thoughts flared and carried me to those long-gone days when, with my mother, I stood by such shelves, and made my selections. Pink Pearl was my brand. I bought one on Monday–actually two–for that’s how they were packaged.

Clearly, I think of Big Indian Chief tablets, and though I don’t recall seeing any in stores in recent years, I do find they are still manufactured, at least in limited form. Covers of dark red with an Indian chief in full dress feathers protected the wide-ruled sheets beneath. They weren’t of the spiral ring style, but were glued at the top with a black band. There was a line to write the name of the owner of this fine pad of paper. Maybe I bought other tablets, but I don’t remember any of those, just red Big Chiefs.

School supplies have a unique scent, especially school paste, which emits a savor of peppermint–and to tell the truth–a taste of peppermint. I know, for in our school, we all occasionally took a nip of the white, smooth stuff. Distinctly adding to the school aroma is that of a newly opened box of crayons, pristine and unbroken, their sharp points a flare of blended colors. So careful would we be of our new crayons, and what a sad moment when the first one broke, or became so worn down, we had to peel away the paper covering, and finally they weren’t even kept in their own container, but were dumped helterskelter in the pencil box.

I racked around in my brain this morning, trying to remember my  pencil boxes, but I just couldn’t bring up any images. I bobbed around on the internet, looking at pencil box images, and despite my extended surfing, I did not find a pencil box that seemed familiar.

Until…I recalled cigar boxes. Now, I’m not at all sure where I would have come to possess a cigar box, for neither my dad, and certainly not my mother, smoked cigars, but that’s what I used to store my school supplies; cigar boxes.

I realize now that I love cigar boxes–love the way they look, and the slightly wicked aroma that accompanies them, and the fact that for all my years in elementary school, I stored my school supplies in a cigar box. It’s strange, I have no recollection of how I came to possess such an item…and how about the other kids who also used cigar boxes?  Where did we get them? Maybe we went to the drug store or the grocery store and asked if we could have the empties. I don’t remember.

Once I visited in the home of my friend Barbra Day; she opened a drawer, and several pencils were there.

“Whose pencils are those?” I recall asking her.

Nonchalantly, she replied. “Oh, anybody who wants them.”

I was impressed with that, for in our home, there weren’t pens or pencils just laying around, or a supply stash somewhere. We had our own items, carefully tucked away in our boxes.

The pencils we used gave a strong scent of cedar when we sharpened them at school, and if our lead broke while we were at home, we used a kitchen knife to fashion a point. Often my pencil eraser would wear out before the pencil was used up, and the metal ring that clasped the eraser would dig into the paper where I was attempting to annihilate my errors.

Watercolor sets were furnished by the school, and when they handed to each of us a metal pan with pats of color, and sheets of paper, and little brushes, we budding artists (and non-artists, such as I) enthusiastically began our work. On very special occasions would the teachers bring out the easels, pots of poster paint and big floppy brushes to accommodate our artistic bent. I remember yet how fine it was to dip my brush into a jar of brilliant paint, and blaze it over the eager white paper.

Impossible for me to explain is my fascination with Dorothy Lynch’s (whom I don’t recall seeing since 6th grade in Bailey School) notebook paper. I probably have never mentioned this to a soul until this moment, for it can’t be explained, but there was something about her paper that I liked. It had a certain “tooth,” I guess one would say. It was a little rough–not like newsprint–but not slick like ordinary notebook paper. Strange memory.

There is much to be said for Big Box Stores and WalMart and KMart and Target where one can buy bundles of Bic pens and cartons of yellow pencils and bags of assorted-color plastic paper clips and made in China pencil boxes. There is much to be said for affording the finest watermarked paper and Montblanc pens, and Fahrney Pelikan pens which can be purchased at a discount rate of $1,418.00. There is certainly much to be said for being able to easily buy school supplies for one’s children.

But there also is much to recommend striving, and for the cherishing of materials which is brought about by the understanding of their limited supply.

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Not Quite Perfect Shopping

 

 

McDonaldHave I told you the shopping here in Lake Havasu is abysmal? I mean it is awful. I want duly noted the tremendous, unselfish and long-enduring sacrifice I am making for the Kingdom of God by living here in shopping dearth-land, and by the corollary suffering brought on by this extreme repression of my God-given female shopping gene. Three major “department” stores grace our fair streets: WalMart, KMart, and Penny’s. There was one more place when we first came here–one called Dunlaps. Had its going out of business sale a couple of months ago. Very sad.

Holiday shopping days are upon us, and as I was puzzling about my dilemma today, I recalled that this time last year I had all my shopping done, my cards arranged, and the postage bought. Sickening thought, for this year–the year of our Lord 2007–I have no shopping done, don’t have one Christmas card in our motorhome, and haven’t even glimpsed a Christmas stamp.I believe God is humbling me and asking that I sacrifice the joyous exhilaration I experience when I stroll through crowded malls, as splendid notes of carols vibrate the fragrant air, angels fly, Rudolph blinks, Santas ho ho their way to golden thrones, and the cash registers merrily cha ching their way through each day.

It’s probably good for me to be so deprived. I was seriously considering that God is trying to teach me a lesson, bring me down a notch or two, when through my prowling around the internet, such a thought was solidified in my mind and I knew it for a surety. For of all things I learned of an outlet mall McDonald’s, where the food served is imperfect.

GURNEE, IL—Hungry shoppers at the Gurnee Mills outlet mall can now get a name-brand lunch at a bargain-basement price, thanks to the Monday opening of McDonald’s first “Not Quite Perfect” outlet store, offering imperfect and irregular items from the fast-food giant’s menu. More here.

So, I am resigned…(maybe)…to not quite perfect shopping. Don’t look for me at the splendid malls of Phoenix, or striding around those in Las Vegas, or at South Coast Plaza or strolling down Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles or prancing around Hollywood and Vine in smart Christmas shopping attire. No, you’ll probably fail to find me there. More apt to spot me in the aisles of WalMart or KMart or sitting in a plastic booth at one of McDonald’s fine discount shops. 😦

I clicked over to peek at Rodeo Drive and found this paragraph you must read:

In fact, Rodeo Drive is home to the single most expensive store in the world: Bijan (at 420 Rodeo Drive). You must make an appointment in advance just to shop at Bijan (which was named after its Iranian owner). On a typical visit, Bijan‘s average customer spends in the neighborhood of $100,000 on men’s fashions, which range from a $50 pair of socks to $15,000 suits.

Believe I’ve veered from my designated place. I’ll just wander back now to McDonald’s Discount and wonderful “Wally World!”

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My devotional blog is here.