Nifty Fifties, and Beyond | School Supplies


Nifty Fifty Cardboard Box for School Supplies

I am very excited to introduce my mother as a guest blogger to Geekette Bits!  She will be writing posts in our new Nifty Fifties blog series which wanders down memory lane from the fifties and beyond.  Please welcome her and enjoy the experiences she shares on my blog.  She grew up in a small town in Florida but knew she wanted to see the world like her mother.  She went to nursing school in Hawaii, visited multiple countries on vacation and to live during moves stationed with the Army, learned sign language, and is one of the handiest persons I know.  She has created many award winning quilts and is a member of the local quilt guild, enjoys researching genealogy, and is currently going to docent school at a local San Antonio museum.  For anyone who asks where my energy, passion, and drive comes from, look towards her to find the answer.

Nifty Fifties, and beyond…

by guest blogger, Ellen Lee.

August. Time to gather supplies for back to school. If you were lucky, you had a new yellow cardboard cigar box to hold your #2 yellow pencils, an 8 or 16 pack of Crayola crayons, a 6 inch wooden ruler, big rectangular pink eraser, small pencil sharpener, fountain pen with black, blue, or peacock blue (my favorite) refill cartridges, a jar of paste (why do I remember it tasted so good?) and safety (round tipped) scissors. Some kids had a mechanical pencil with extra lead refills. Upper elementary grade students had a compass – the metal one used to draw circles. As the school year rolled on, that box held treasures found in the classroom, playground, and cafeteria. There would be special rocks or stones, a marble or two, paper clips, rubber bands, old bandaids, pennies, buttons, and wads of A.B.C. (Already Been Chewed) gum.

Did we ever wonder who smoked all those cigars required to provide an empty box? Where did we get those boxes if no one in our families smoked? Mysteries.

Repeated openings and closings throughout the year meant the lid often started to fall apart, requiring emergency rescue. We couldn’t just throw it out and ask for another. A worn, stained, patched, and taped up box meant it had been a busy, productive year. At the end of the school year, all those stubby leftover pencils, pieces of broken eraser, empty fountain pen cartridges, and crayon nubs were taken home in the tattered yellow treasure chest to be tucked away during summer vacation. In the fall, it would be time to start a new cigar box quest.

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6 thoughts on “Nifty Fifties, and Beyond | School Supplies

  1. Wow, this takes me back! I used to love gathering all the school supplies for the beginning of the school year. I especially liked the cartridge pens. And yes, the paste did taste good! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I remember the watercolor trays. Oh, how I loved getting a new one at the start of the new year, when none of the colors had been mixed and everything looked so clean. The fountain pens were always fun (at least to a kid). We used to flip them at the back of our teachers’ dresses as they walked down the aisles in the classroom. And my Big Chief Tablets and wooden rulers. Wow….you are really taking me back a few years!

  3. While I did not have the cigar box, I DID have all the other supplies! Thanks for taking me down memory lane with you. As an empty nester with 2 foreign exchange students for the first time, I will be school supply shopping again soon! I’m looking forward to seeing what is NEW out there while I flashback to OLD memories of my past! GREAT Guest Post and I am excited about the Nifty Fifties series.

  4. That sounds really cool! I’m a bit younger but I remember my backpacks (or trapper keepers) were like that. The ways of the past haven’t changed that much. Just the means of it. 🙂

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