Thursday, September 10, 2020

52 Ancestors - BACK TO SCHOOL: Reflections

Photo taken in front of Cradock Junior High but I do not know why.
Mary Allen went to the Catholic School. My sister is too little.
But I seem dressed and ready for something. 
Back to School orientation??


When I was growing up, the arrival of August meant that summer was winding down. Our thoughts turned to back-to-school shopping. In elementary school, I always got a lunch box, book bag, and a new pair of saddle oxfords. 

from Pinterest

In junior high and high school, I looked for new loafers - loved my Kiltie Weejuns -  and a cute pair of Trotters or “baby doll” shoes. 

Kiltie Weejuns

Baby Dolls and T-straps

Gone were the days of needing a lunch box – not cool. We carried a stack of books and notebooks in our arms to and from school every day. Only nerds put their books in a book bag. 

During the last week of August, we checked the mailbox every day for the letter from school. As soon as it arrived, we stayed on the phone calling our friends to see who was in our homeroom. Were we in the same English, math, and history classes? Was gym before or after lunch? Did we get the HARD teacher or a new one no one had ever heard of?


My children’s “back to school” experience was certainly different from mine.

1986 Waiting for the bus
Jonathan Whitehurst (seeing his big sister off but he looks
ready for preschool once he finds his shoes), my daughter
Jordan, neighbor Linwood, and Laura Whitehurst
Jordan and Laura were starting kindergarten.
For my girls, back-to-school meant shopping for clothes too, but they also needed a backpack. That’s not all. In elementary school, they hopped on the bus carrying a bag full of supplies requested by the teacher: markers, crayons, pencils, soap, tape, glue, and always a box of tissues.


Jordan 2nd grade, Nicole LeBoard 1st grade, Zoe kindergarten


My grandkids need backpacks too. However, where they live, those backpacks must be clear. Security. Shopping for new clothes means just looking for the next size up in school uniforms. Shoe shopping is the challenge because shoes must be plain. White tennis shoes, no design - not easy to find.

First Day pictures are a relatively new tradition. Like so many moms and grandmoms on Facebook and Instagram, my daughters took pictures of their kids with a sign or with fingers signaling their grade.

Easton in preschool (grade 0, I guess)
Emily grade 5

Ainsley in preschool

My granddaughter’s preschool requires that each child have 3 masks.

My grandson’s preschool class is currently quarantined at home after a child tested positive for Covid-19.

Zooming with the preschool class

I wonder what memories “back to school” will conjure up for this generation in years to come.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. These pictures make me cry for all kinds of reasons. Beautiful kids and grandkids. Weird world.

  2. Me too wonder about schooling from this point on. Such great memories and pictures shared here. I remember Oxford shoes and polishing them every Sunday night.


  3. I loved this post...plenty of memories of mine, my kids, and now my grands school photos from the first day of school. Now kids start in early August in many places. Doesn't seem right to me!

  4. Oh I love this post! Since we are about the same age, I have very similar memories. But the hot shoe when I was a pre-teen and teenager was Hullabaloo boots - remember those ankle high white boots? And I always wondered how much crying and sniffing was going on with so many boxes of tissues for each class.