Monday, August 28, 2006
August 28, 2006—Back to School
It was back to school here in Summit County and in Denver this past week. Back to school? Wait a minute. It is still summer. Yup. The calendar on my wall says it is still August. I guess the school year start date is one of those decisions that they don’t ask me about.
What I remember growing up was that school always got out sometime after the first of May in time for everyone to help with planting the fields. We always started school the day after Labor Day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday of September.
The only field work that was left at that time was harvesting the crops and that did not happen until after a couple of hard freezes. I know that things are different today but my memory is of the 1940s and 50s.
There was no winter break or spring break or a break break. We did get out Christmas Eve and then went back the first weekday after January first. Depending on weekends the number of days of our Christmas holiday would vary each year.
Another cultural thing from those days is that no one ever went on vacation except in the summer when school was out. It was especially hard on the farmers with livestock to get away. I don’t remember any who ever did leave in those days.
It is much like the old saying, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Not much hay or sun in January.
Rural schools in those days also functioned as a community center. The school was normally K through 12 in the same building and all of the children in the entire family went to the same place each day.
I remember band concerts and basketball games that I had no interest in but I still went. Everyone had an activity card that would be used for admission for everything from a music program to a football game. I can’t remember how much it cost but I am sure that it was cheap at half the price.
My town was small enough that I could walk to the school from any place in the city limits. With all of the predators and child protection issues we have today it is hard to imagine that I would walk several blocks to school when I was five years old. Everyone in town was watching out for all of the kids all the time. A very large police force if you think about it.
I think that when I realize that school actually started last week that it seemed illogical. When I remember what it was like years ago when school started there were certain things that logically followed that event. Football. Cold nights. First snow. Bonfires. Heavy coats. Snow boots.
Some of you might even remember before snowmaking when the ski areas opened. They virtually never opened before Thanksgiving and always closed around the middle of April. Now all we need is enough cold nights and we are good to go. If it got cold enough soon enough we could probably open right after Labor Day. Around the time that schools used to start.
Now try to put all of that in perspective of the next to the last week of August?
I know that some Aspen trees have turned already. I was watching the news from Denver this week and the anchors were talking about how many of the trees had already changed in the high country. They rightly said that the Aspen normally peak around the middle of September.
The good news about schools opening early is that the traffic problems let up for a couple of weeks. That is until the Aspen season when they all come back for a few days.
Many years ago the greatest wish from businesses was to have a true four season resort. I think that wish has come true regardless of when school starts.
I guess they are not pushing it at all. I guess I am just resisting letting go of summer once again. It is the best part of living in the high country after all.