Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to School
This is the time of year that kid’s and parent’s thoughts turn to getting ready for the new school year. Most of the children with some reluctance and most of the parents with mixed feelings of relief and anxiety. The first day of school may be the first ride on a school bus, meeting a new teacher, or wearing the new school clothing.
Late in the summer, I would hear the cicadas rasping their songs in the heat. There was nothing to dread from these small creatures, but I developed an unsettled feeling when they began their concert. I knew my summer freedoms were over and the routine of schooldays would soon begin. Days of reading, math, and spelling, months of history, science, and geography, and nearly a full year of penmanship, hard seated desks, and other not-too-polite other kids lay ahead. It also meant recess, lunches, and making new friends.
Going back to school always meant going to Gabriel’s with Mom to shop for clothing. My first recollection of the store was that it was located in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where built-in walkway conjoined two houses. Bins and tables were jumbles of pants and shirts that had to be sorted through to find seconds that were still in wearable shape. Several years later, the store moved to a larger roomier building, but the need to examine the clothing was real: checking for missing buttons, working zippers, tears, and that there were no major flaws.
Then came the role reversal, I got married to my wife Cindy and we had three children of our own. School days meant something completely different, but then again, my wife was a school teacher and taught in the private Christian school where our children were enrolled. School days meant visiting stores for school supplies and new clothing. The entire family would make the traditional pilgrimage to Gabriel Brothers to shop for school clothes.
Gabriel’s has now expanded to have multiple stores. Growing up, people called the original two stores Gabe’s. Apparently, the owners of the stores heard the public’s nickname for them and have recently changed the signage and renamed the stores Gabe’s.
Even now, when I hear the cicadas and the days for the start of school draw near, it always stirs thoughts of the old conjoined houses and shopping for school clothes.

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