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Published September 10, 2012, 11:35 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Memories of school life in the '70s

The other day as my family ate lunch at a sandwich shop, three pennies sat in a triangle on our table. The junior high boy inside my grownup husband couldn’t resist. He struck one of the pennies causing the other two pennies to propel out in opposite directions on the table top.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

The other day as my family ate lunch at a sandwich shop, three pennies sat in a triangle on our table.

The junior high boy inside my grownup husband couldn’t resist. He struck one of the pennies causing the other two pennies to propel out in opposite directions on the table top.

Maybe you can guess what happened next. He flicked one penny through the space between the other two. Then flicked the other one through the gap, and to quote the old shampoo commercial, “and so on and so on and so on.”

My daughters watched intently and asked what he was doing. He told them all about tabletop penny hockey, a standard classroom game of our youth. That led to a discussion about paper football. Remember that one? Where you make an origami-like football and try to “kick” it through the goalpost your friend formed with his arms?

I hadn’t thought about these games in years. They were just part of going to school for me back in the 1970s, along with Partridge Family lunchboxes, and peace signs on our lockers.

It made me realize I’ve spent plenty of time talking to my kids about my school work, but I’ve told them little about my school life. The way we really were back then. So rather than sing about my “misty water-colored memories” (that would embarrass them), I’ll just make a list of the top 10 things my children will never get to (or have to) experience in school the way we did.

  1. The excitement of seeing a teacher roll a TV set or film projector into the classroom.

    There was really no such thing as multi-media education. We weren’t plugged in. Most days we listened to the teacher talk did our lessons. But every once in a while, on those rare and beautiful days, we’d get visuals. And if it wasn’t a TV set or film projector, a film strip machine wasn’t so bad either.

  2. Founded in the “free to be you and me” early 1970s, Garanimals purpose was to boost a child’s self-esteem by giving her the tools to properly dress herself through the use of color-coded animal tags.

    For example, if you had a shirt with a purple panda on it, you just needed to find a pair of pants with a purple panda, and you could be confident that they would match (I know some men today who could benefit from Garanimals for grownups). As a point of reference, all Garanimals tops matched with Toughskin jeans.

  3. Dodgeball. Yeah, glad that’s gone. But on the bright side, when I see a cartoon of someone seeing stars after getting knocked out, I know it’s accurate.

  4. Walking home to eat lunch then walking back to school. No school lunch for in-town kids. I remember eating bologna sandwiches while “Search for Tomorrow” played in the living room.

  5. Being amazed by space exploration. I remember in elementary school how we’d all gather around two small TV sets in the gym to watch various Apollo touchdowns. To my daughters, the space shuttle isn’t much different than a 727 to Minneapolis.

  6. Oh the horror of gymsuits. Back in the 1970s, Agassiz Junior high required girls to wear hideous mustard colored onesies. I’m not sure what we ever did to school administrators to deserve that. Fortunately the gymsuits were eventually phased out. But our pride was gone forever.

  7. Wondering if it was really okay to have a Coke after eating Pop Rocks. Would my stomach really explode? Isn’t that how Mikey from the Life cereal commercial died?

  8. Racing to be the first one into typing class so you could get the electric typewriter instead of a manual one.

  9. Walking uphill in the snow for five miles. OK, maybe not. But I do remember walking to school in treacherous conditions. Of course, they wouldn’t have been so treacherous if I had dressed properly.

    I remember one day after an ice storm, my friend Sheryl laughed uncontrollably as I tried to navigate the trip home in my Candies high heels. After a while, I became so desperate I decided to put my mittens on my feet and shuffle the rest of the way. Proud moment.

  10. And finally, “star” style and then some. My daughters will probably never know the joy I felt upon putting on my favorite pair of Hash jeans. The pockets were big enough to carry my strawberry Lip Smackers and the comb I needed to adjust my Farrah-wannabe hair. I think I hit my fashion peak with that look. But it still doesn’t make up for the gymsuit.

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.

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