Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back-to-School Shopping, then and now

Third grade brought my first soap and water saddle shoes!

When I was a child back-to-school shopping meant getting dressed up in good clothes and going with my mother on the bus (we were a one car family for a long time) from Bellevue to downtown Seattle to shop at J.C. Penney’s and Fredrick and Nelson. No department stores at Bell Square yet. I got bored while my mother looked at patterns and fabric, but getting a new readymade dress was much more fun. Lunch was yummy chicken salad in the restaurant at Fredrick’s where there were table clothes and you had to sit up straight, put your napkin in your lap and act like a lady. The restrooms in Fredrick’s were exactly that. The ladies restroom had comfy arm chairs and couches where you could---well—rest. I do not know if the daddies got to rest like the mommies and grandmas.

Back-to-school shoes were at Nordstrom’s (which sold only shoes then), but for the several years of my life they were black and white corrective saddle shoes which did nothing to improve my decidedly flat feet. My consolation was that the girl next door had the black boot type of corrective shoes. It made me feel moderately better. Third grade brought my first soap and water saddle shoes! Gosh, I was excited.

By the mid to late 1970s and into the ‘80s, when I had three and four school age children, back-to-school shopping happened at thrift stores out of necessity and I have school pictures of the older boys in the same shirt—different years. We handed down and wore it out. I told them it was character building. I liked to believe that my children didn’t mind, but that wasn’t entirely true. When my oldest son was old enough for a newspaper job he began working to earn money for his own school clothes and always had a job thereafter.

September was always a thin month with lists of school supplies, emergency packs, school pictures and shoes. Shoes and underwear I bought new. I had an annual every year in high school. Out of the three older children, two of them got annuals their senior year. The third escaped high school for TCC and could not have cared less about annuals. By the time Nadir came along our circumstances had improved. Annuals were purchased for him and I don’t think he cared one way or another as long as he had his black J.C. Penney’s Arizona jeans.

Today we took our Granddaughter Linda for a little last minute back-to-school shopping. School starts tomorrow. I swear that all thoughts of economy and moderation fly out of my head where the grandchildren are concerned, but we landed somewhere in the middle of my back-to-school experiences. I still got dressed up because my mother taught me that you tell people what you think of them by how you dress and I do adore my grandchildren. Lunch was at a teriyaki joint near her home. I miss Fredrick’s and Nelson.

The shopping was done at Fred Meyer where I was happy to use $50 worth of coupons, but still spoiled her well with a pair of her favorite Twinkle Toes shoes and a pair of “stylish boots,” not to mention hair ribbons, tights, a new pink water-bottle and a Sponge Bob Squarepants Golden Book along with a Tinker Bell one for her little sister. Linda’s in second grade this year and excited to start. Grandson Gabriel is home schooled in our home and consequently is liable to be the recipient of things piece meal, but is spoiled just the same. Wait until little Lydia begins school. What fun we will have taking two little girls shopping!


Joanna said...

Great post! Your grandkids are lucky to have these experiences with you. My memories of school shopping are not so fond. I remember having to buy lots of "nice" clothes that were scratchy and HOT in those first few weeks of school, and shoes that hurt my feet. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I recall how unpleasant it all was. Maybe that's why I still hate shopping! lol

Stephanie Frieze said...

Joanna, I was always excited to wear the new fall clothes I got and as you say, it was always cool in the morning when I went to school, but I drug myself home on afternoon like today wearing wool skirts and sweaters!