The other night while watching Jay Leno I was drawn to his brown tie with white polka dots for some reason.

Then it hit me like an arrow: His tie was the same brown color and exact polka dot size and placement as the material I used to make a smock for my home economics class in high school. Memories came flooding back and the forgotten smock was once again fresh in my mind.

I'd spent hours looking for just the right material and pattern to make my smock for our assignment. Picking something easy to sew and getting some material that wasn't hard to work with was my first thought. We were told that once we finished our assignment, there'd be a fashion show in the gym and we were to model whatever we had sewn.

The other girls in my class made fancy clothes to wear for the fashion show. I didn't want to model my smock, but I had to, so I walked down the runway and back as fast as I could. I did get a nice round of applause for my smock from the students and parents who attended, but I never wanted to do that again.

Having to eat the food that we prepared in that class was a lot easier because there was no one else around to judge us like at the fashion show. I never sewed another smock, but I did learn to sew men's sport shirts. Seems that men were quite impressed to have a homemade shirt done just for them and it helped me get lots of proposals. My cooking wasn't that bad either, but I learned how to do most of that after I got out of school.


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Teachers and students dressed a lot nicer when we went to school, but the casual look seems to have taken over in most schools without a uniform code. All teachers were addressed by Mr., Mrs. or Miss So and So back then; we would have never thought to call a teacher by their first name.

We all remember those awful gym suits that we had to wear. Mine was blue and it seems to me that the bottoms looked like bloomers. It was bad enough that we had to wear those monstrosities, but to be seen in them by the boys was pure embarrassment.

One thing we did learn in our time in school was how to count change. Personally, I've yet to see a young person that can give you the correct change if you give them some coins to make the returned amount even. If they can use the cash register to do the counting for them, then they figure it out, but without help, they just stand there and stare at the money. You have to count it out for them very slowly and usually more than once, before they understand what you are doing.

Recently, at a local store, I purchased four cans of green beans that were marked $. 58 each. When I got home I noticed that I'd been charged $1.08 for each can. I went back to the store and asked the customer service girl for a refund for the overcharged amount. She couldn't figure it out, so she got another young person and the two of them were stumped. They finally refunded me $4.32 and then got more confused when I told them that they'd given me too much money. I finally said that I'd been charged $. 50 too much on each can and that four times $. 50 was $2 owed me. PHEW.

Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.