Back to School!
From Grade School to Junior High to High School to College and Beyond - Were They Really the Best Years of Your Life?
By Anthony Buccino
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a child, after a long day of schoolwork, must be in want of penny candy from the corner store.
Something tells me you went to catholic school. Maybe itís the way you flinch when someone talks with their hands? Or the way your heart palpitates when a rubber-tipped yardstick is concerned? And the sight of penguins still makes you sweat and squirm?
We took cover in neat order in virtually any place that was away from the windows. We sneaked a look back and waited for the Russian’s A-bomb to come crashing through any one of the many windows in our school.
Coworkers tried not to be obvious as they craned to see if my new wife scored my brown bag lunch orange as my mom had for the past five years.
A boy in a new neighborhood makes friends with a lost baby robin, feeding it, and teaching it to perch and take short flights.
From the earliest grades to grad schools everywhere, when that end of school bell rings, children queue, nickels in hand, to be the first to reach the candy counter...
Itís been a long time since Iíve thought much about Peter Pan, much less my freshman English class production of the rock Ďní roll version called affectionately ďPeter Pan Revisited.Ē
My friends and I would tromp through the snow playing war or starting wars or chasing the dog and we'd laugh 'til our tears froze along with our running noses. And then we laughed some more.
Two boys can always get along, but a third usually means something's going to get out of kilter. And so it was that day in the first half of the block of Carpenter Street...
And the only time we ever heard about somebody who went to Albino Village was when they came back and told us about how scared they were and how lucky to get out before they were grabbed by the Albino people.
Between Kunen's book and Birmingham's collection of writings from the underground student newspapers, oh, and probably the full side of Dylan songs on The Concert For Bangla Desh, in that whirlwind force-field I decided to become a writer.
My favorite cafeteria snacks were yellow crackers with the peanut butter filling... For variety, the orange crackers had yellow filling. These treats held together with preservatives and red dye No. 3.
But here I am, in striped bell-bottom slacks, a tie-dyed shirt and long hair hiding any kind of collar Ė leaving the seeming safety of an institutional green homeroom for some unknown class.
Itís the parents who are sitting on heavy blankets, wearing thermal underwear, thermal socks, thermal neckwear, thermal hats and special gloves with places for shake-activated charcoal hand-warmers
Those last weeks of high school seemed nothing more than a blur of doing time to get the opportunity to get on with life. It was the sky-high toss of that mortar board that signaled the beginning of real life.
Visiting this elementary school after 45 years kindles memories and opens hatch for current batch of students to hear neighborhood history
The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. Psalms 25:8 - For a while, anyway
I never had much love for school. I was ready to drop out in second grade but somehow hung in so I might enjoy going to high school class reunions.
Anthony Buccino created a time machine through words and stories of growing up the 1950s, 1960s and beyond based on life and growing up in Belleville, New Jersey.
You don't have to be from New Jersey to enjoy this book, you just need an inclination to remember when chasing the mosquito man and his big blue DDT cloud was a great thrill for kids on their bikes or running in their Keds!
And who can forget the excitement on hearing the bells of the approaching ice cream truck to the neighborhood?
If you remember defrosting refrigerators or the simpler things of times past, you'll enjoy Buccino's essay collection.
More than forty essays and reflections on everything from junior high school bullies to selling pretzels for Ed Strat at Belleville High School football games at Municipal Stadium. This collection includes the Excellence in Journalism award-winning Don the TV man.
You might also like:
Some Kind of Wise Guy: Stories About Parents, Weddings, Modern Living, and Growing Up Italian by Bill Ervolino
Growing Up Catholic: And Getting over It by William Michael Nolan
Essays, photography, military history, more
New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
Permissions & other snail mail:
PO Box 110252 Nutley NJ 07110
By Anthony Buccino
''New Jersey's 'Garrison Keillor' '' **
** "... or something to that effect"