Paper, for one thing. Today we buy it by the case for our printers but there was a time, back in the “olden days”, when such things were considered a luxury.
Not that I don’t remember buying a “Big Chief” tablet at Sidney Courville’s grocery store on the corner of Maple and Seventh, but there was a time when students were actually given paper, a sheet at a time, thanks to Huey and Earl Long, Louisiana governors.
In addition to paper and pencils, they were the ones who instituted the free lunch program in the public school systems.
Before that, some of us remember members of the Home Ec classes cooking meals across the street from school and personally delivering them to the students in the elementary department.
Later, a room was set aside in the actual school building, and even later, a huge barn-like building was built on the corner of Oak and Ninth that housed a lunchroom for both Eunice High and Eunice Elementary schools.
But, back to the paper. If you were lucky enough to be a classroom monitor, you were given a single tablet and went to the head of each row and tore off only as many sheets as needed, one per student. The same was done with pencils. Take one, pass the rest back.
For those who could afford it, you could go next door to school and get some of your supplies at the Bobcat Nest or downtown at Reese’s Variety Store.
The more-popular brand of supplies was Blue Horse. That would’ve been a company to have stock in!
There was a picture of a blue horse on the wrapping/cover of every product they sold and depending on how much you paid for the product, the initial price denoted the number of points you received. Note: clipping and saving coupons is NOT a new thing.
For instance, to receive a wrist purse or a beanie, you needed to collect 25 points. For 100 points, you had a choice of a water pistol or a charm bracelet.
Another gimmick was for a whole school to take part in the collection of points and cash them in for such things as visual aid or playground equipment, library books, maps and globes and even first-aid kits.
Grand prizes included bicycles, record players, radios and watches.
Back in those days, this was a cause for excitement. Today, Ho-Hum! Most of us already have two of everything aforementioned.
At school, a large trash incinerator was out back and the trash cans from all of the classes were taken back there to be dumped.
If you were lucky enough to get back there before the janitor set it on fire, you could scrounge through the fencing and maybe, just maybe, come up with that one last Blue Horse label you needed to get your beanie.
Don’t laugh. This was a time when a nickel was actually worth it. And very well spent, if and when you dared turn one loose.
Blue Horse school supplies was a division of the Montag Company out of Atlanta and was also a maker of fancy boxed stationary, one of which you always received as a birthday gift, back when we actually wrote letters to one another.
Next time you get ready to throw away something made of paper, remember how many trees were lost in the effort.
They say it takes 500,000 trees to put out just the Sunday issue of the New York Times.
Cheaper to read it on-line. At least until the electricity goes out. Then we’ll all be back in the dark, physically and mentally.
Better yet, plant a tree. And take a kid along with you, when you do.
February 1, 2009.