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Up in the Morning and “Back to School”

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Even though I graduated from school over forty years ago it seems like only yesterday. Earlier this week, I witnessed the neighborhood children walking toward their schools in anticipation of the new academic year. As I watched the children return to school, I could hear the words of the Chuck Berry song:

Up in the morning and out to school
The teacher is teaching the golden rule
American history and practical math
You’re studying hard hoping to pass
Working your fingers right down to the bone
The girl behind you won’t leave you alone
Ring, ring goes the bell
The cooks in the lunchroom ready to sell
You are lucky to find a seat
You don’t have enough time to eat
Back in the classroom open your book
The teacher doesn’t know how mean she looks
Soon three o’clock rolls around
You finally lay your burdens down
Strap up your books, get out of your seat
Down the hall and into the street
Around the corner into the bin
Right to the juke joint you walk in
Rock a coin into the slot
Got to get something that’s really hot


Our parents thought we were crazy to be listening and dancing to this fast music. Just like we think some of today’s youth are crazy to listen to some of the junk on CD’s today.

Instead of going to the juke joint and putting coins into the slot, they pop a CD into the walk-man hanging from their pockets and backpacks. Our parents thought we were crazy to want to be dressed in the latest styles and sport wild hair dos.

We had everything on our minds but books and obeying the rules. The same can be said about today’s young people. The hours of instruction have remained the same while styles have come and gone.

The youth, however, are the same. Some are rowdy and want to start trouble, but most are interested in school and doing what their parents want them to do. All of them want to be in style whether parents can afford it or not.

The clothing industry recognizes the vast amount of money our youth have to spend on clothing and now we have stores that cater only to youth instead of just youth departments.

Just this week my daughter expressed her frustration to me after taking her sons and neice school shopping. One son is what kids call a “skater” which means he likes to ride rollerblades.

He is a high school senior who likes to wear typical “skater” clothes: baggy jeans, Van’s athletic shoes, and oversized t-shirts. Her other son, a sixth-grader, wants to wear ankle-high socks with hightop Chuck Taylor basketball shoes.

And her niece, just beginning kindergarten, expresses her own fashion sense. She likes to wear skirts and only wears certain colors. Once again I was reminded of my school days. My parents couldn’t understand why I wanted to wear Wrangler Denims with thick “cowboy” cuffs, argyle socks, and hightop basketball shoes.

And why I liked that loud Chuck Berry. I guess my grandchildren will be saying the same things about their children when it’s time for them to go back to school.

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