Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

School Bells Ring No More, Alas ; Good Morning

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

School Bells Ring No More, Alas ; Good Morning

Article excerpt

MORGANFIELD, Ky. - He stood barefooted at the counter in front of me at a little five-and-dime, a freckle-faced boy of 7 or so. His hair was long, uncombed and his heels were rusty, the way heels get when they have not received the hygienic care that heels do demand - and I would have bet a quarter that his pants were hand-me-downs, the way they bagged in the seat.

In one grubby hand he clutched several crumpled dollar bills; in the other, drawn up to his chest, was the assorted paraphernalia of a youngster going back to school, including four yellow pencils and a brand new tablet (not a Big Chief, but a fine tablet just the same).

And as he laid his rat's nest of bills upon the counter and waited for his change, I felt a stab of envy - and, yes, of sadness, too - that I myself had no need to lay in supplies after a magnificent summer.

I can remember to this day the thrill of buying the supplies that I would need and some that I only pretended to need, because they would be so nice to own.

And I can remember the pride of ownership I felt in a brand new Big Chief tablet, its artistic cover - an Indian chief with a hooked nose - still stiff and unmarked, its blank pages lying there by the smooth hundreds for my personal use.

I don't suppose that a person is ever richer - even in years to come, when he has money jingling in his pockets and a car to drive - than when he holds a new yellow pencil in his hands, its point as sharp as a needle.

It is, of course, a sad fact of life that before noon of the first day that same handsome pencil will have deep teeth marks in it and part of the eraser gnawed way, for the opening of school is always a tense occasion. But while it was still new, still unmarked by its nervous scholar, a new pencil was just about the finest instrument that mankind ever devised.

And while you used it, its point so sharp and sensitive, the rows of handwriting spirals in your tablet seemed to appear with the speed of light, effortlessly and accurate, so that the teacher complimented you and, perhaps, held up your tablet for your classmates to see. …

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