My earliest recollection getting ready for the start of school was my annual ‘school haircut’ from my mom who was my barber throughout childhood.
My very first day of school was the 6 block walk on Anza Street to Kindergarten at Lafayette elementary school with my buddy Tad Oride
escorted by our moms. Somewhere in a shoe box of family photos is a picture of me looking rather doubtful about it standing on the front steps of Lafayette.
Mrs. Gilchrist would sooth and mitigate those fears in her delightful kindergarten class.
After that it was walking on our own every day to school back when kids were allowed to roam and explore the neighborhood on their own with the
caveat, “Be home for dinner”, or in later years during daylight saving time “Be home when the streetlights come on.”
After transferring to parochial school it was the street car or bus ride downtown to purchase our school uniforms — always salt & pepper pants, a white
short sleeve shirt and whatever the color called for that year in the sweater. Holes worn in the knees or elbows during the year would be sewn shut or later
pressed ironed with a clever adhesive patch. Following distribution text books they were carried home to be meticulously covered with a brown grocery bag while
dreaming of their removal 9 months later at the end of the school year.
In those ancient times the school year began after Labor Day and within a week California Admissions Day September 9th was a school holiday helping to ease
the transition into the school year. The best San Francisco weather of the year always occurred as Norm implies carrying on through October and sporadically beyond
to Thanksgiving. But blissful weather would become a factor of truancy in one’s teenage years with the popularity of surfing and mobility afforded of a classmate with
‘wheels’ to facilitate goofing off.
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The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.