Monday, September 13, 2010

Take a Whiff

When I was in elementary school, we crawled under our desks when our teacher announced an air raid drill, our hands clutched around our heads and necks.  "Duck and cover!"

Around that time, too, I vaguely remember a school nurse promising it wouldn't hurt before she pricked the skin on my left arm, just below the shoulder.  I didn't believe her -- or why would she say it? -- but she was right.  Later, my lesion itched but it didn't turn big and ugly like those of some classmates.  The scar that remains marks me as a baby boomer.  Later, I remember going with my family to our local elementary school three times, to take a sugar cube version of the vaccine.  Maybe one was Salk and the other Sabin, or maybe the sugar cube version was for something other than smallpox.  Who remembers?

My younger brother had a special name for the kids who received the honor of wearing orange straps across their chests and monitoring hall traffic at the beginning of the school day -- "hall-buh-doodies."  I don't remember what they did, but some of them seemed to think they were miniature policemen.

I'm remembering these things not because it's September, which is when school resumed when I was a kid, but because I smell the first day of school.  It's in the air.  I realize for most kids around here, the first day of school was 3 weeks ago, but I didn't smell it then.

"How many smells can a human smell?" asks Virginia.

10,000?  100,000,000?  Who really knows?


  1. I thought, from your title, you were going to talk about how you sniffed your freshly mimeographed paper when the teacher handed it to you. Mmm, kids these days don't know what they've missed.

  2. mary pannabecker steinerSeptember 19, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    You had air raid drills? Why don't I remember those? Did they stop them before I got to school?