In A “Back-To-School” Memory Daze — Announcing “Little Red Bear’s Back To School” Coloring Pages!

Happy Back To School time!

Shareable new materials have been in rather short supply here for a spell while I stepped aside to attend to some pressing personal health (non-COVID related) issues. In the interim though, I have nevertheless been working on background items and new features to be revealed in the near future, so please do stay tuned, as they say.

We will talk about some of those issues that kept me away along with some other things in a coming post soon.  But for now, although while still not fully back in the writing saddle quite yet, with it being “Back To School” time and my favorite season of Autumn on the horizon, let’s get it all rolling again with one of those new features I mentioned, shall we?

Now at age 71, “Back to School” in my day many years ago was special. It was almost a season in itself.  An abbreviated period as compared with the traditional four seasons, no doubt, but with the exception of the still-hot and humid readings on the thermometer each afternoon, “Summer” had officially been declared “over with” by my Mother, and school preparation activities dominated each day.

There were new school clothes to shop for, along with new shoes and required gym outfits to acquire. (I missed the memo when they stopped calling it “Gym” and began referring to it as “P.E.”, short for “Physical Education.”  I simply kept calling it “gym class”, but digress.) In addition to clothing items, there were notebooks, pens, and Number 2 pencils to stock up on, along with erasers, scissors, crayons, rulers, Elmer’s School Glue, and who knows what else.

And not to leave out the mandatory end-of-summer haircut, of course. My best friend Rick lived down the hill in a corner lot about two houses down in the back. Rick, the oldest, came from a family of five kids consisting of four boys and one severely outnumbered sister. The night before school restarted each year, we would watch Rick and the other kids all line up in the backyard as their mother gave one after another the annual Start of School Haircut. Then in for a bath and off to bed for an early rise in the morning.

We had strict dress codes back in the day, even in the public schools I attended. Girls were required to wear a dress or skirt, the shortest of which could reach no higher than mid-knee. Tee shirts, sweatshirts, and sweat pants were not allowed for anyone. For boys, all shirts had to have collars and buttons. Hair on boys was not allowed to touch the shirt collar. Socks were mandatory and gym-type shoes were only allowed in Gym class. At the same time, no soled shoes were allowed anywhere near the pristine wooden gym flooring.

All pants were required to have belt loops and be held at the waist by a belt. Failure to wear a belt resulted in being sent to “The Office” for a visit and attitude adjustment session with the Assistant Principal, or as we kids mockingly referred to him as — the “Enforcer In Chief.” After a stern lecture about how flaunting the rules and not wearing a belt could negatively impact the remainder of a ten-year-old’s life, the beltless boy would be given a length of rope to wear around the waist for the remainder of the day, a clearly visible (and embarrassing) signal and dire warning to every other boy not to forget a belt in the morning rush out the door.

And of course, one could not hide the fact they had forgotten to wear a belt that day, because all shirttails had to be tucked in. The belt omission was clearly obvious to anyone paying attention. A rather trivial issue it seemed to me at the time, although all the teachers seemed inordinately obsessed with it, in my opinion.

Personally, I was never apprehended without a belt, neither wanting to risk a visit with the Enforcer In Chief nor suffer the embarrassment of wearing a long rope around my waist. Always careful to obey the rules and do my best to stay out of trouble back then, I do admit to having contemplated the possibility of wearing overalls one day to challenge the belt rule but lacked the courage to act upon the urge, not having yet transitioned into the independently-minded “Rule-Challenger-For-The-Fun-Of-It” I became later in life and remain today.

Getting back to it then, our Back to School feelings were always kind of a mixed bag. The excitement of seeing school friends we had lost contact with over the summer was mixed with the uncertainty of what new teachers might be like. Everyone seemed to have an ingredient to add to the simmering pot of New Teacher Trepidation —

  • “I hear Mr. Townsend is a real beast with math homework and has never given anyone an ‘A’ grade. He assigns homework every night. And every weekend!”
  • “Miss Burns always makes the girls in her English class get down on their knees at the start of every class to make sure their skirts touch the floor.” 
  • “Mr. Grimharsh had a friend of mine in gym class who would not stop chewing bubblegum last year, so after telling him twice to get rid of it made him spit out the gum and then stuck it in his hair. Johnny Jones had to go to the barber and get a crewcut after school. A crewcut!”
  • “Miss Hendricks only accepts writing assignments and homework in blue ink. She will give you an “F” if your paper is written in pencil because she wants to see all the changes you make and not be able to erase them. Always remember to take a blue ink pen with you to her class.”
  • “Mr. Miller told the kids in his Science class last year that the word ‘Fire’ begins and ends with an ‘F’. If you set anything on fire in his class it will end in an ‘F’ grade for the quarter. And if you break something you have to pay for it! My weekly allowance won’t cover the cost of a microscope!”
  • “Why do I have to choose between French and Spanish this year? Miss Burns told me last year it was clearly evident that I hadn’t mastered the English language yet. And now they expect me to learn a second language, too?!?”
  • Mr. Newchance lets you take any History test you fail over again, but the best grade you can get then is a “C”, even if you get everything correct.”
  • “My Dad said that if I have over a ‘B’ average at Thanksgiving that he would buy me a new electric guitar for Christmas. But I can’t even spell Triggernumery, much less do it! I am going to start saving up for a new set of strings for my old guitar, just in case.”

On and on the gossip and info-dumps went over the last few weeks leading up to the start of school each fall. Of course, in my time, school always restarted with a half-day on the day after Labor Day each year. Never in early or mid-August as so many do now. And it goes without saying that nobody went to a school with air-conditioning in those days, and school was never called off due to excessive heat.

For us boys sitting in school with long pants on after spending the summer in shorts and swim trunks, we were just hot, plain and simple. Desk papers stuck to our forearms from the sweat running down our arms, and wasps buzzed around our heads, having flown in thru open windows. One large and very loud fan in the front corner tried to cool the classroom but caused us to simply not be able to hear the teacher who no one was paying attention to in all the heat, anyway.

And don’t even get me started about the mile-and-a-quarter walk to and from school every morning and afternoon, regardless of the weather, — rain, snow, or shine. And yes, sure enough in our case, it truly was more or less uphill both ways because there was a big valley between home and school regardless of which way we were heading.

Looking back on it now, it is fair to say we had generally pleasant while at the same time somewhat queasy feelings about the whole “Back to School” thing each year. A goodly bit of eagerness and excitement over new school clothes and the prospect of reuniting with friends was more than tempered by a healthy dose of general apprehension and miserably hot 90-degree temperatures lasting thru mid-to-late-September in our neck of the woods. It is probably fair to say that in my circle of friends, anyway, when it came to the “Back-To-School” thing each year, we could generally take it or leave it. In our minds, there were still too many perfect days on the calendar for baseball and bike riding to waste them all shopping and trying on endless changes of clothes in a hot department store.

But, in the end, mixed feelings or not, we always seemed to find our way back on the first day of school each autumn, didn’t we?  Maybe we were a little more excited about the whole “Back-to-School” thing than we were willing to admit or let on in public, after all.

What are your “Back to School” memories? Good? Bad? Or mixed, like ours? Please don’t be shy. Feel free to share them with us in the Comments Section.

To help ease the annual End-of-Summer and Back-To-School transition for older kids and build excitement about the new experience for younger ones, my story friend Little Red Bear has assembled a collection of Back-to-School-themed coloring images with varying degrees of complexity for all ages.

Coloring images are available for unlimited Free downloads simply by ‘Right Clicking’ on an image, choosing ‘Save Image As’ in the dropdown menu to save a local copy on your computer or device, and then printing out as many as you want.

It is our hope that these pages, made possible thru the kind assistance and support of our Patreon Community, provide a means for not only preparing and generating excitement for going back to school, but also for spending quality family time together — reading, coloring, and learning. Simply Tap Here to view them all and get started!

 “Thank You!” for visiting and spending part of your time with us! We always look forward to your visits and comments, because YOU are the reason we do it all.
My story friend Little Red Bear and I hope that you and any little ones heading off to school enjoy this post and Red’s new “Back-To-School” Coloring Pages. As always, please feel free to share and pass along to family and friends!
We have a great deal of new material and features to share with you over the coming months so please visit often. If not yet subscribed yet please register now to follow along and be notified of every coming new post and feature here.  — Jim  (and Red!)

Please consider joining our Patreon Community today to help us grow and keep freely-shared, family-friendly educational new materials and features coming, helping to make a positive difference in the world!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy “Wishing You Happiness, Peace, Joy — And A Very Good Day!” and Little Red Bear’s growing “Animal Alphabet Coloring Pages!”

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and Sign Up Now to follow along and be notified of every new post!)

              “Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.”  — Bill Dodds
       “Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.”       — Robert Gallagher

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Find out what readers have to say about Little Red Bear and His Friends!

(Royalties from the sale of Little Red Bear’s books go directly to supporting this site.)

“Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.” — Doug Larson

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” — Lily Tomlin 

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!

“Let us remember: One Book, One Pen, One Child, and One Teacher can change the World.” — Malala Yousafzai

Speaking of Dogs & Cats & Boomers

As a general rule, I endeavor to keep it on the light side here, and do not get actively involved in political discourse. Goodness knows there are already enough serious and worrisome issues and events in the world these days. On the other hand, I have a growing awareness of what I perceive to be a serious problem in this country. As such, I thought it important to bring it to the attention of the soon-to-be growing number of presidential hopefuls and candidates for the next presidential election. I say both “hopefuls” and “candidates”, because I am never quite sure if they are really one in the same and want to be certain to bring the issue to everyone’s attention, not leaving anyone out.

Here is the crux of the matter, to get right to it. I am a baby boomer, and there are a growing number of us reaching the years when we are empty nesters, and/or without spouses or companions for various and obvious reasons. In other words- alone. Aloneness is generally regarded to be unhealthy, thereby impacting the issues of medical care, mental health and associated social costs and issues.

To combat the isolation and solitude, many seek the solace and companionship of pets, primarily dogs and cats in vast numbers. Dogs and cats are excellent companions most of the time, providing sympathetic comfort, great for snuggling and warmth during cold winters (although not so much hot summers when they seem to have the curious urge to snuggle even more), they serve somewhat as alarms and guard dogs against intruders, many perform invaluable service assistance to the challenged and disabled, requiring walks and outings they aid in helping us to exercise and get fresh air, their own food and upkeep costs help to support the economy, etc. All good things.

That being said, here is the concern. All of the above listed benefits of having a dog or cat companion are “physical” or “emotional”. They do very little to stimulate the “mental” side for aging boomers, a very important thing in maintaining a fulfilling, vigorous and healthy lifestyle by challenging and maintaining an active brain as well as body. I have become increasingly aware that dogs and cats in general seem to be very unread and sorely lacking in knowledge of current events beyond issues of food availability and scheduling. They are frustratingly difficult to hold an intelligent conversation with. Great listeners, without question, but clearly deficient in conversation skills and a base of knowledge to draw from to foster insightful discourse and discussion. They don’t distinguish Dali or Degas from a dog dish, or Kipling or Kierkegaard from kibble.

"So, what you're saying is that it wasn't really a Chew Toy? Seemed like it."

“So, what you’re saying is that it wasn’t really a Chew Toy? Seemed like it.”

Indeed, most dogs mistakenly perceive books to be chew toys or pillows rather than tools of enlightenment. And it is we who have allowed this sad state to continue. It is a rather poor reflection on our species, that given our long and close relationship to dogs and cats over thousands of years we have allowed this matter to go unattended for so long, turning our backs on the educational and intellectual development of our dearest companions.  Some certainly seem to be sending us clear messages that they are at the very least interested in books and higher education.  We just have not gotten the message.  Until now.

Accordingly, it seems reasonable that the next group of folks aspiring to be President of our great land and all its people should address the issue of illiterate, uneducated and incommunicative pets, for the sake of not only the ever increasing number of lonely boomers but also for the long term benefits for all the citizenry. With the copious “pork” projects that Congress always seems able to generously fund without risk of government shutdown, I am sure it should be no problem achieving bipartisan support and finding adequate sums to fund Dog and Cat Literacy Research with concurrent studies in Household Pet Speech Therapy, given the proper leadership of the future President.

“O Day of days when we can read!  The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In fairness to others, I readily admit that Chimpanzees and other primates would seem to have a leg up on dogs and cats as far as literacy and communication possibilities go, given the advances made earlier in sign language communication with Koko the Gorilla, among others. Along with Parrots and some other avian members perhaps, already given to outbursts of spontaneous, albeit limited speech, most frequently revolving around a desire for crackers. But the prime focus of this is to foster mentally stimulating pet discourse for the sake of aging baby boomers, and so few of us have Chimps, Gorillas or Parrots as pets in the home.  And quite honestly, the troubling images from the “Planet of the Apes” movies still haunt many, making it more difficult for an educational movement to gain traction for the primates, given the opposable thumbs and all.

Dolphins would also offer great promise, displaying consistently high intellect, but even fewer of us are able to keep large sea mammals as household pets. We own more dogs and cats to be sure. Regrettably, the others will have to wait their turn. In a democracy, numbers rule. However, I am confident that whatever scientific strides made in the field of Dog and Cat Literacy and Speech will also benefit the chimps, gorillas, parrots and dolphins down the road as well. And the whales, not to be left out, of course.  So there’s that.

Dog- Reading, Google 11

Doctor Dolittle spoke the language of the animals. It is now incumbent upon us to teach them ours. The time has come to educate the furry members of society. Dog and Cat Literacy.  Free Speech for Pets.  The time has come. For the benefit of baby boomers and their pets in the interest of an intelligent conversation, for goodness sake.

Thanks as always for visiting! —  Jim (and Red!)

"According to this book, I can't read. Why is that, human?"

“According to this book, I can’t read. Why is that?”

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories on Amazon.

About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.  For Young and Young-at-Heart!