When I think about summer vacation, I still feel the joy of being free: there are few better times and seasons in life than childhood during summer vacations. But the second best thing to summer vacation, at least for me, was buying back-to-school supplies. I still sense the joy of arriving at home from store with all the new books that smelled so fresh, and the process of covering them with special brown paper. During my school days in Iran, the government didn't supply our books, so we had to buy them when we received the lists from our teachers on the first day of school.
Tehran did not have huge stores like Office Depots or Staples for school supplies. Instead, there were independent stationery stores, which on the first day of school were incredibly crowded. Imagine: stores with dimensions of about 20 by 15 feet, with about 100 people squeezed inside, each having in their hands lists of supplies and pushing past others to get to the counter.
One of the best stationery stores in Tehran was Erros, it was a store that my uncle had opened it but later when he moved to the United States in 1953 his friend Edik Gozozian became the proprietor. Erros had special lined notebooks which Armenian elementary schools required. The notebooks were in pastel colors: pink, blue and green. On the front side they had a white label where you could put your name. At the side of the label there was an emblem of Cupid with his arrow. We were very privileged to know the owner of Erros and we got special treatment when we entered from the back door to avoid the crowd and buy school necessities at the first day of school.
The store had few customers. I asked assistant manager Gustavo Luna about the best bargains. He pointed out that with a $5 purchase, I could buy six wired notebooks for 10¢ each and see-through plastic pencil boxes (4"x6") for 50¢. I didn't have any use for those, but I bought a few notebooks with bright and colorful hard-covers for 99¢. They were so attractive I couldn't help myself! Gustavo mentioned that the majority of their clients are Armenians and if I want to see families buying school supplies I should return in the evening.