The Wayback Machine — The Last Day of School

We had races on the last day of school. And a maypole. I don’t know why I remember the maypole, but I do.

It was a great day when we got out, especially when I got my new pair of sneakers.

It wasn’t just the day that was special, but that whole last week. We didn’t do much work that last week. We watched the clouds out of the window. We played hopscotch (and I used my favorite stone). We played outside, on the monkey bars and all kinds of other playground equipment that have now departed most playgrounds.

I would sit and watch that big clock on the classroom wall, the second hand ticking around and around. It took the longest time for the hands to make it to three o’clock.


It’s amazing how much time speeds up and slows down, depending on what you’re doing.

Our desks were all nice and clean, that last week. We were anxious to get our report cards. Being a good student, I didn’t worry too much about my report card.

The end of school coincided with the end of Sunday school. That last month, we planted marigolds in little milk cartons, we sang songs, and colored.

I’d get new sneakers and I’d get a new toy of my choice. It would be a summery toy, like flippers, a diving mask, a hula hoop. And, of course, we’d use the jump rope with the handles that spun around. We’d have those bounce back paddle balls, that were about 15 cents at the 5 & 10. And we always had those red rubber balls. We’d also play whiffle ball. We’d wear our roller skates, and hope we didn’t lose the key. We’d put streamers on our bikes. We’d put playing cards in the spokes so that the bikes sounded like motorcycles.

The last day of school was connected to playing outside, which was connected to those small toys we loved. It wasn’t so cold anymore. Remember, we had to wear dresses to school. But now we were warm when we played outside.

The collection of days and toys were connected with the final day of school and Sunday School.

Plus, we didn’t go to Sunday school or church all summer.

Summer clothes were connected with freedom. It was like getting parole. It meant the whole day was structured with nothing in mind. It was all about coloring, playing, drinking Kool Aid, eating cucumber sandwiches, lying in the hammock reading comic books, going to the store for penny candy, which was actually a penny per piece.

Summer clothes were less formal and more fun than our school clothes. We played out in the dirt. We took so much pleasure is so many small things.