Health and Fitness - Back-to-School Season Takes Me Back

Our wellness is improved when we use our happy memories to guide us through life.

Back in the day, our entire family would jump into the “paneled” station wagon in early August to go shopping for the new school year. This tradition seems like it happened just yesterday.

First up on the shopping tour was Montgomery Ward department store, for our frugal family fashionistas. We needed bell-bottom pants and denim shirts to make a bold statement, along with plenty of plaid. It all looked so groovy on Greg, Marcia and the other Brady kids on TV.

The plan called for making a pit stop at the drive-through Fotomat kiosk, a pint-sized pictorial processing place right there in the parking lot. The rolls of Kodak film from our summer vacation needed to be developed, of course. We swung back by the next day, after the one-day service, so we could enjoy Dad’s photos from our unforgettable trip to the Grand Canyon and the amusement park. To us, the pictures resemble Ansel Adams’ work.

For some cool kicks, we were more likely to go to Kinney Shoes than we were to ring up pricey Air Jordans or the fancy Reebok Pumps that were advertised. Chuck Taylors might be our choice for gym class and Keds sneakers for the everyday romp and roll of recess and beyond. And for those special occasions, we picked out boat shoes. Ahoy matey!

To mow our neighbors’ lawns each week during summer break, I donned the overalls, slapped on the Coppertone suntan lotion, and started pushing the mower. It was sweaty work, but it brought me some extra cash to blow on fun stuff. That could only mean one amazing place to go – K-B Toys in the mall, where I bought Atari video games, such as Pac-Man, Pitfall! and Space Invaders.

Also at the mall, just next to the Hot Sam Pretzels shop, was B. Dalton Bookseller, a bastion of bookish bacchanalia. It was a good place to get the books on the reading list for English class – maybe Tom Sawyer and Lord of the Flies. While we were there, we also might look for the endcap display of colorful Trapper Keepers, the royalty of all school supplies and organization.

Zoinks! We almost forgot the lunchboxes. We can just go to the nearest Kmart. My friend Rick went all Jedi Knight on us one year and got the Star Wars model. My friend Dave entertained a more whimsical side with the Scooby-Doo case, an excellent choice. I think I will balance out the universe with my selection of the Justice League box.

Even if it was decades ago when I was a student, it all comes back again for me when I pass by a school and see the big yellow buses and hear the sound of the tardy bell. As each fall semester begins, part of me is still standing in a classroom at the start of that first day, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and stealing glances at classmates, wondering what the school year might have in store.

It’s a longtime annual habit – and a healthy one at that. Gather your own happy memories – from your school days or beyond – for a boost in your well-being.

This wellness article is brought to you by that guy of reading, writing, and arithmetic. That guy of scholarly ambitions is Ron Blake and he can be sent a report card at



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