In my mind’s eye, I can still see my mother’s left handed notation on our monthly budget. Written in pencil in case adjustments were needed, the budget could easily be found in the desk drawer underneath a rotary telephone.
It was this time of year a $50 school entry was added, meant for both paydays in a month for a grand total of $100 designated to buy clothes, shoes and supplies for three and, later, four siblings.
Extra work was taken on by everyone trying to meet that budget. Dad worked the oilfields and any odd jobs he could find on the weekend. Milk, eggs, cream and butter were sold. If we could pull it off that meant the boys got two new pair of jeans to go with patched ones not totally worn out; two new shirts and shoes. Being the only girl, I got one new dress with the rest being home-sewn, a new slip, undies and new shoes. Those shoes had to last a year no matter what.
And oh, yes, school supplies. How proud we were to head off to school carrying a Big Chief Tablet and No. 8 red pencil, a No. 2 after you learned to write. Hard work we were accustomed to and as we grew older we took on the responsibility of handling our own school needs.
Today, according to the National Retail Federation, parents will spend $26.5 billion on K-12 back-to-school necessities this year. That is an average of $669.28 per child; a mere 5 percent increase from last year. You wouldn’t want to know what my parents would have to say about that.
With tax free weekend (August 10 – 12) in Texas fast approaching, a family can save about $8 per $100 spent on school supplies and clothes. In order to be eligible each item purchased must be under $100.
“As a teacher, I was blown away when just the school supply list grew to $85- $100 of just stuff for the elementary grades,” said Jan Wylie. Jan taught school for a total of thirty-four year with twenty years being taught in Kilgore. “It was just stuff and all we as teachers really needed was Kleenex. We went through Kleenex like you wouldn’t believe,” she added.
“When I was a little and growing up in Kilgore our school supplies consisted of a Big Chief tablet, pencil, a brand new box (not broken) Crayolas, and a jar, mind you, a jar of Elmer’s glue with a screw top and a brush attached to apply the glue,” she laughed. “And oh, how I love the smell of those new Crayolas!”
“And every school year, I looked forward to my brand-new Mary Jane black patent shoes purchased at Lewis Shoe Store in downtown Kilgore. And when you left, Mr. Lewis gave you a token and you put it in this big ornamental goose, pulled its head down and it would lay an egg. You hoped for the golden egg filled with goodies, but I never got one,” she laughed. At the time, Lewis Shoe Store was located at 211 E. Main Street and he carried those famous Red Goose Shoes.
“We carried our lunches in little tin boxes with a thermos bottle and nobody got sick,” said Jan. “It didn’t matter how hot it got, we ate what was inside which was a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” she laughed. “I like telling people, I’m from East Texas and we drank from the water hose and caught lightning bugs in the evenings. Keys were left in the cars and windows left open at night and we never had any problems. It was a calmer, gentler world then than what our kids face today.”
A calmer, gentler world indeed and makes one wonder what the kids will find calm about their school days fifty years from now. Hopefully, it will be thoughts of the community coming together to help supply some of those
“HE IS COMING HOME,” exclaimed Joe Ann Knight. Her son, Tim Rutherford and wife Amy have been in Europe since June 1. Since gone, they have been to Hungary, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland and France.
“Tim house sits and he was watching over a house in France just 4 miles away from Basel, Switzerland where the Rangerettes were recently,” said Joe Ann. “He actually drove over to Basel while they were performing.”
“The house he monitored in France can be seen on You Tube and the owners who could speak in many languages had to show him how to operate things like the dishwasher with instructions written in a foreign language and to teach him how to drive their vehicles,” she laughed. “He belongs to an organization that keeps sitters for owners of homes that are away a lot. He has been all over the United States, but this is the first time for Europe.”
“Tim went to college all 4 years at Texas A& M,” continued Joe Ann. “The first time he actually house sat was for an instructor from Germany and he planned to go home for a visit. The instructor had cows and one of them died while he was in Germany and Tim was responsible for getting it buried. So, he really has been a house sitter since his teen years.”
Tim kept in touch with his mother mainly through e-mails and occasional calls, but he also sent her several cards postmarked from France and one card especially to celebrate a missed birthday. Tim and Amy currently live in Colorado.
“A PERSON can hear, But a friend listens for meaning. A person can look, But a friend sees the heart. A person can know, But a friend understands your dreams,” was engraved on the business cards handed to each participant at the Kilgore Church Women’s luncheon last Friday. The covered dish luncheon hosted at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church held a nice- sized crowd of outgoing women enjoying visiting and catching up with club activities. Guest speaker, Rev. Debbie Daigle gave an enlightening talk on “Dancing when you don’t have music” which brought laughter to the group.
Plans to double the attendance for the October meeting are in place. Kilgore Church Women meets only four times a year but actively participate in community support throughout the year. The October meeting will be held on the 26th with First Presbyterian Church hosting the luncheon. For more information about Kilgore Church Women contact Carroll Bolton at 903-988-1591.
ABOUT THAT GOLDEN EGG – inside was filled with Beechnut gum, a goose clicker, a whistle or ring. We hope to learn more about the owners of the shoe store soon.
MAY HIS LOVE AND LAUGHTER fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at email@example.com or 903-984-2593.