Children are back in school now. What are your memories of going back to school?
My memories of returning to school is of the taste of raw chestnut in my mouth, the smells of wax from our wooden desk, chalk from the board and dark purple ink. In my village, the elementary school was located in the Renaissance castle from the 1500.
We walked on the original wood floors, just a few centuries old. They creaked and moaned. In every classroom, behind the teacher’s desk, there was a a huge fireplace where centuries ago, tree trunks burn. The antic mechanism to open the large windows was tough for our little hands. From the windows, we had a view of the park where the chestnuts trees provided shade in the spring and summer.
The following is of a conversation with my mother. Her memories from school. Unedited Excerpt from my memoirs.
My mother was from a village where a shallow river gently curves at the bottom of the hill. But my grandparents, first raised their children in a smaller village. Nothing more than a handful of houses. School was a few kilometers away and the children left early in the morning— a little gang of freezing children in the winter, noses covered by hand-made wool-scarves and hair buried in hats. They carried their backpacks made of heavy fabric and fastened with metallic hardware. Their hands hang on to the tiffin carrying lunch.
“Those were not fun days,” my mother explained one day as we sat on the sofa to knit, “we each carried a log to feed the school wood stove. One log per child to keep the school only room almost warm throughout the day. With the log and our school supplies, our school bags were heavy and rain or snow, we went.”
“Spring must have been a relief. No more freezing temperatures.”
“Oh yes, it was better. To save time, in the winter, we would cut through the frozen fields walking in our wooden shoes, our feet and woolen socks wrapped up in newspapers to keep them warm. But when it rained, it was harder to walk through the field. Our wooden shoes would get heavy with mud.”
“Wow, Mom. Newspaper and wooden shoes?”
“Yes, we all had wooden shoes. The neighbor kids too. The newspaper sheets made a difference. It was good insulation. That is what we had to do to attend school. Kids are spoiled our days, there are buses that round up the kids in every village and of course everyone has cars now. A different life, but we didn’t know any better.”
Life is easier now for our western children. I wonder sometimes what will be their memories of their back to school?
Photo Credits: YeyeQinqin from Pixabay