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School Days-Do you Remember

Updated on August 20, 2016
Fiddleman profile image

I am Robert Elias Ballard, married to Pearlie Jane (PJ) for 45 years on November 24, 2017. We live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Blue Horse Beanie

Pencil and Paper

As a young boy who grew up in a small cotton mill community, my daily walk to Tuxedo Elementary School lead me though our village street to a path that ran parallel to US 25. Our daily walk to school took us by the Tuxedo Post Office and the Tuxedo Community store as we made those early morning journeys in an effort to "scrub ignorance" from our brain a phrase coined by our Tuxedo Postmaster, Mr Hardy Butler. Mr Butler and his wife ran the Tuxedo Post Office and spent a lot of time reading since our village was small and their mail room duties were minimal.

At least once each week, I had to stop and run inside the Community Store to purchase notebook paper.School supplies were displayed on a shelf near the front door. Pencils,pens, erasers (used a lot by me), and of course notebook paper and spiral notebooks. Throughout most of my education I was the proud owner of a blue canvas notebook, a three ring one without any handy pockets, it like me was of a simple variety without any particular fanfare. What I remember most about stopping in at the Community Store to get a package of notebook paper was the variety of colors available. Girls seemed to cotton to the pastel colored variety of notebook paper that came in shades of light blue,yellow and pink but being a boy, white notebook paper suited me just fine. I knew it was only a matter of time before there would be enough red ink streamed in big letters at the top, "MESSY!" My writing was atrocious and still is today. Cursive was a curse!

It was the mid-1950's and the Community Store stocked Blue Horse notebook paper. By todays standards, the paper was of good quality and fit both a two hole or a three hole notebook, mine was a standard three hole variety. I have purchased many nickel packs of paper which had about 25 sheets of paper and would last me an entire week provided our homework assignments were sparse. The really neat thing about the Blue Horse notebook paper was that on each package of paper, the company logo was also a coupon, the value of the coupon was commensurate with the purchase price of the package of paper one bought which usually were a nickel, dime or a quarter. One of those quarter packs would almost fill a standard notebook, even if one might splurge and make a few paper airplanes. Hello!

Also, inside the package of notebook paper, usually on the back page, was a list of novelty items that coupons could be applied or redeemed. Some of the items were really awesome like bicycles and required additional funds be included along with the coupons tendered when they were redeemed. For whatever reasons which have long ago departed memory, I was able to save enough Blue Horse coupons to send off for one of those really cool beanies. It was white and blue with the Blue Horse logo. We weren't allowed to wear hats in class but for all practical purposes, I never wore mine, it was the thrill of just getting a small package in the mail with my name on it that excited me most.

Sometimes a pencil was needed and they were cheap enough at the community store, only a few cents each and they were more often lost than used up. Ironically, erasers were 5 cents each! I never really liked the standard number two pencils that more times than not were yellow with a red tipped eraser. I seemed to use the eraser end more than the black lead. I have even bitten the brass which surrounds the eraser just to squeeze out enough eraser to correct a spelling error or a long division error on my school work.

For me and I suppose a hold over from first grade when we had those huge green pencils and wrote our first alphabet and names on that brown big lined paper. My favorite pencils were the ones given as token gifts by the FCX or Farmers Federation. They were the same size as a regular pencil, only round. The standard pencils were octagonal which enabled one to use them, easier, I suppose. The pencils given as tokens seemed to fit my hands better and I judiciously used the pencils no doubt ergonomically designed by some Einstein in a pencil making factory.I used the pencil sharpener sparingly trying to make those pencils last a long time.I also considered them lucky because I always seemed to write better and make higher marks on tests if I had one of those writing implements.

As strange as it might seem in our high tech society where computers, tablets and other electronic devices are so readily available, notebook paper is still the same as it was over 50 years ago and relatively inexpensive. I was in Staples just before school started this fall and was amazed at how little school supplies cost. Even at large stores such as Target and Walmart, school supplies are relatively cheap, one could fill an entire shopping cart with years of school notebook paper for under $25.

Our Tuxedo Community Store has fallen into our history as has our little Post Office but the memories of stopping in to get a package of Blue Horse notebook paper is a memory tucked away, never thought of often but forever will be a bit of trivia we sometimes remember. Today the Tuxedo Community Store is the only building remaining that was a part of the mill village community. The mill was razed a couple of years ago and is now a community park.

School Days song


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    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 2 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks for reading and posting a comment.

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      Isabella 2 years ago

      Finidng this post solves a problem for me. Thanks!

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 3 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you so much breakfastpop. I do have pretty good memory but sometimes it is helped by the memories of others as they speak about those times and events which we share in common. I love to remember and write about those because they inspired me to write it down.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      You know I love your stories, but I also have to say that I marvel at your memory. You are amazing and your work is awesome and voted that way.