SCHOOL DAYS ALREADY??

For most of those attending school, you should be in the classroom already. However, I didn’t start school until it was the day after Labor Day.

For most of my school life from elementary school throughout high school, my first day of sitting in the classroom forced to have a teacher “rule the roost” and what appeared to run my daytime life during the week from early September through early June of the next year(!) was the run of the course so to speak!  I knew that when that holiday where we were supposed to “celebrate” labor a.k.a. “work”, my summer vacation was officially over and done with!

Nowadays, this level of schooling starts two week earlier in mid August. That was the time back in the day where I started to build up a sweat. Not so much from the heat, but from worry and general panic knowing that I only had some fourteen days (give or take a few), to cram my life full of fun and adventure that I should have started upon in June. The day after Labor Day, my free time would be fully dedicated to homework and other stuff that wasn’t really fun, or fun to me anyway.

But I always went through with this. When school was out for the Summer, I had to myself most of June, all of July, all of August, and a little bit of September to do what I damn well pleased. I know a lot of my peers did their own thing, from attending summer camp, or perhaps going on some kind of vacation in a spot located near or far from home, or maybe taking a summer-type job where they could do something and actually get paid for it! However, I really didn’t attend Summer camp in my adolescence. Family vacations were taken, but that was mostly a weekend version of an extended stay. One year I did spent three weeks in Florida seeing the sights that my folks wanted to see. And yes, we did pay a visit to Unca Walt’s joint where for the price of an “E” Ticket, I would take advantage of some nifty attraction, go on a ride, or even do something else with good ol’ Mickey not too far off in the distance! But I digress!

But getting back to the start of school. A few years ago, the Los Angeles (California) Unified School District (LAUSD) settled on a revised date on when the school season for all of their school houses would begin their classes and when to finish them off. The dates chosen would be from middle August (Around August 15th or so) through the first week of June. Starting this school season, school would not begin until 8:30 AM or so. Before that, school could and would start as early as 7:00 AM. That time of day turned out to be way too early for those kids and even for adults. So to make up for all of this, the school starting time was changed later so these same kids would be wide(er) awake by the time the school bell rang for the first class of the day.

Placing my slant to this story, I knew that on that final weekend before my school bell would go “ring ring” (or in some cases, a sound of an electronically enhanced monotone “buzzer” that would he heard for five second stretches), I would have to get myself ready for that first day of school. That meant that I would no longer be doing the only thing to do for the summer that really mattered to me; watching daytime television! I knew that I would no longer be able to see (and play along with) my favorite game shows as there were many to choose from. The titles of these game shows may have since been forgotten, but their hosts ranging from Wink Martindale, Jack Berry, Alex Trebeck, Monty Hall, Bob Barker, and of course, Bill Cullen, would be carrying their shows to its height. I got my schooling with these game shows as taught by my “teachers” where for a correct answer, a lucky contestant would win some fabulous prizes. It could have been a toaster oven, a dining room furniture set, a collection of matching luggage, or the best prize of ‘em all, a brand new shiny car! And since I was able to play along, I would be able to win those prizes. Alas, I didn’t win anything because I wasn’t a studio contestant! I was just a dumb kid sitting in front of my 14” Sony black & white TV set spitting out correct answers for nobody to hear. But again, I did learn a few things that would help me later in life, such as knowing how much stuff was priced! I did learn that a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese had a SMRP of 27 cents. And I also learned that a Pontiac Grand Prix cost a whole lot more than a Cadillac Sedan de Ville. And in spite of what all the “experts” stated, who says that kids didn’t know the real value of a dollar??

But when I completed my high school years (barely I might add), then it was off to college. And the start of post-high school didn’t get itself going until the final week of August, before the Labor Day weekend. That is, assuming that I was in a college that ran under the semester season–late August, middle May. The quarter system school ran from the end of September through sometime in June. But by the time one entered college, it was a whole new vibe compared to a high school environment. In high school and below, one’s schedule was jammed packed for the six or seven hour day. College was different. One can take classes that ran for a few hours in a given day, but one had more free(er) time to do stuff like hanging around the student center, or perhaps attend a meeting of some student run organization, or maybe use the facilities that the school offered for recreation. And of course, you can still catch up with your daytime television!

When I was attending college, soap operas were all the rave for the young adult viewer. Mostly females would tune in, but I’m sure that the guys check soaps out as well! I attended a college where it was located in a region where the folks at Nielsen, the company that gives all of those TV ratings for advertisers would know how many eyeballs were watching their TV commercials in order to sell products, would list the college’s geographic location at number 67 in ADI; that is, Area of Dominant Influence. (To compare, New York City was at the top spot at number one. Los Angeles was number two, Chicago at three, and so on!)

Anyway, there were only five over-the-air TV stations covering that region. Three stations made up as part of the big three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC. One was a PBS affiliate, the school’s own TV station, while the remaining channel was a lower power independent station that carried a lot of religious programs. At the student center, there were three dedicated TV lounges where a 24” CRT television receiver was mounted on a back wall tuned on to one of the three networks. There was no TV lounge set for the PBS station or for the independent channel. If one wanted to watch Masterpiece Theater, or whatever tired rerun the indy station would be airing, if not broadcasting that day’s installment of The PTL Club, one had to go watch somewhere else.

Anyway, one afternoon, I decided to take a shortcut from attending a class held in one lecture hall to travel to another class that was located in a building located across the campus. I passed by the lounge that was tuned to the ABC affiliated channel, only to see the lounge room jammed to the walls! I stopped in for a moment to take a quick peek inside the lounge to see what was going on. Perhaps it was some kind of rally, or maybe it was an early happy hour party. It turned out that everyone in that lounge room was watching that day’s episode of General Hospital. It appears that these students just had to take the time to catch up on all the antics that were going on in Port Charles, New York in and around the name hospital! Of course, this was at a time where very few of these students had a VCR of their own to tape the episodes off the air only to watch them later, let alone had their own TV sets in their dorm rooms. Although it’s been decades(!) since I last set foot in that student center, I assume that that TV lounges from yesteryear are long gone. These students have their own smartphones to catch up on the latest TikToc videos, Twitter posts, and even viewing that day’s episode of GH as viewed through Disney+!

But these things in and about school are all connected here. But right now, summer vacation is over! And soon it will be fall, then winter, then spring, and so on. So while I sip on that pumpkin spice latte while shopping for the latest in Halloween gear while creating my “holiday” shopping list ordering stuff online (with my smartphone ‘natch), I’ll just be glad that I won’t have to deal with those pencils, books, or teacher’s dirty looks! That is, assuming that pencils and books are still being used inside of a classroom. Ditto for the teachers. They may be teaching inside of a meta universe. But what do I know? I was pleased if I barely got a C- as a grade!

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