Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Memories on Back-to-school

I know we still have a few weeks of summer on the calender, but Labor Day says back-to-school.  Here is my memories on Back-to-school: 

This year, Glendale Unified students will return to classrooms on Monday, August 29.  In our neighboring city of Burbank,  classes started even earlier.  Although California schools seem much more appealing to me than my own back in Tehran, I still think it's unfair to send kids back to school in August.  I am glad I'm not a kid that has to say goodbye to summer fun so early.  When my children were kids, they returned to school after Labor Day. In Iran, the school years started on the first day of fall, usually September 23.

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.

Here in America, everything is planned ahead of time, not at all like the way we rushed to the stores in Tehran as soon as the first school day was over to buy our supplies.  Here, back-to-school sales start early and there are great deals. In recent years I've seen incredible prices, like pencil boxes for 10¢ each. I've taken advantage of such sales, buying extra to send to Armenian students in Armenia. 

I always enjoyed visiting stationery stores. One of my pastimes is to wander in the store aisles and buy things that I may need later.  This morning I visited the Staples store on Glendale Ave, to see both the back-to-school specials and the customers. I love watching parents and kids buying armful of colorful folders, binders, new pens and pencils, and other necessities.

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.

My best memory of a stationery item is when I was 9 or 10 (5th grade) and for my birthday I received a brown leather pencil case from my mother. I had seen and admired that pencil case in the window of Erros store.  I treasured that pencil case; I was so careful not to spoil the leather and used it very attentively, but one day on the way home from school it slipped out of my bag and it got lost.  It was a sad day for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment