Fall usually meant two things to me when growing up.
It meant new school supplies and Grandpa Zellers was coming to visit for the winter.
It did not mean new school clothes. I liked the clothes already hanging in my closet, thank you.
Mom once said, “You’re just like your father.”
That always means something not good. Mothers never say that to praise a kid beyond infancy.
She continued: “As long as your bottom is covered you don’t care about clothes.”
She used another familiar word instead of bottom.
And she was right! If I had blue jeans, that was OK. I would have preferred to wear a T-shirt to school but, as I recall I had long sleeve shirts and, when I was very young, I had corduroy pants.
Bill Cosby was right. Corduroys were one instrument every kid had in his one-man band. They went “whoof-whoof” when you walked.
Cosby said he wore shoes with soles loose from the upper part, which was convenient for picking up loose change without bending over. Scoop — and it was in his shoe.
He also said the loose soles made a sound which became part of the kid’s one man band.
Walk down the street and you went “whoof-whoof-flap.”
My shoes did not have loose soles but I did get away with wearing sneakers when school started in the fall.
Thanks to intense advertising campaigns on TV, our neighborhood was divided into two camps. I preferred “Red Ball Jets” that had a red ball on the heel. I was convinced that red ball made me run faster.
Other kids preferred high top sneakers with the big white ball on the side.
That created a dilemma for me. I really liked the high tops but Keds did not come in high tops.
Eventually, I became “sophisticated” enough to not care about red balls or high tops. If they fit, that was all that mattered. It was back to the idea that if I kept my body clothed, that was good enough.
I was much more interested in school supplies. New notebooks that had never been written in; pens were fascinating, especially ball point pens.
I recently spent $10 to buy a new pen like dad’s “Jotter” ballpoint. Do you know, they don’t carry those pens or the refills at Walmart or Staples any more?
I am amazed at how expensive school supplies are these days. I shouldn’t be surprised. I know the cost of newsprint imported from Canada has skyrocketed from years ago.
But it would seem we used to find less expensive ways to live than we do today.
Grandpa Zellers stayed with us or my uncle each winter because his whole house was heated with one oil stove located in his living room. It didn’t keep the house warm so he visited his children each winter.
One time, when my mother was in a nursing home (her choice) my son said, “When you need care, you’re not going to a nursing home, dad. You’re going to move in with me!”
“Oh, no!” I said in horror. The horror was partially sincere.
Grandpa didn’t have a TV set. He had a large table top radio with wonderful “fidelity.” I might add.
The first time mom and I went to visit him in the summer time I looked and looked at the radio and finally asked, “Where’s the picture?”
He also had no power mower. Instead, he had a rotary push mower that I enjoyed using when we went to visit, even though I had to hold the handles over my head to push it.
His house on Riverside Drive in Winamac had been bought for him by one of his sons-in-law.
He had no car.
No wonder he could afford to retire on Social Security.
Yes, fall is almost here. Kids will be getting school supplies and expensive clothing. They will talk their parents into spending over a hundred dollars on “school shoes.” And so far, the Phillipses can afford to heat our whole house so we won’t be packing a suitcase to go visit our grandkids.