School should be in full swing for kids across North America and many kids are busy with their after-school activities. Some are in band, cheer or sports among many other activities. Others go home and enjoy some quiet time and get a head start on their homework for the evening. The right photo sure can stir up sweet memories of good times. Lily and Jennie are sharing some of their memories in this “After-school Edition” of Throwback Thursday.
Jennie Looks Back
I was a latchkey kid before the term really came into vogue, I think. For most of my childhood – at least after the age of seven or so – my mom was working and I came home to an empty house (usually my sister would arrive home around the same time, though).
I don’t recall doing much of anything organized after school during most of my school years – athletic I’m not. My main routine was to come home, get a snack, and watch whatever was on television. When I was younger, it was reruns of old sitcoms – The Brady Bunch, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, Gilligan’s Island – on our black and white set (cable was not even an option at that point). Ooh, and I loved the 3:30 Movie, especially when it was horror week! Though I attribute my sister’s deathly fear of rats to repeat viewings of the 1976 classic Food of the Gods, which featured giant you-know-whats (in fact, they were clearly normal-sized you-know-whats swarming over cheesy miniature sets; special effects was not the film’s strong suit). Also, I loved Gargoyles,. which was about…gargoyles, and starred Jennifer Salt, later of Soap fame and Cornel Wilde, of…being Cornel Wilde fame, I guess.
When I was older, in high school, eventually my sister and I had separate bedrooms, each with our own color TV (la-di-da!) and I think at some point a VCR (cable was still reserved for my parents’ TV and that could only be watched when my dad wasn’t watching it). The VCR coincided with my interest in soap operas, so that opened up a whole new vista for me. Actually, in middle school I’d gotten into General Hospital, but that was pre-VCR and so the best I could manage was watching it on sick days or maybe, if I rushed out of school and the bus came at just the right time, I was able to get home for the last 15 minutes. Those were glorious days!
My sister and I did play outside, sometimes with other kids, though there were rarely many on our street. We roller-skated or went to friends’ houses. We sometimes went to the library or the local park, which was quite close by (something that in retrospect I probably did not appreciate or take sufficient advantage of, at the time).
At one point we got a cheap little camera and we enjoyed posing for photos outside; the picture here depicts me on our next door neighbor’s steps, holding our chihuahua mix, Poochianna (usually shortened to Poochie). Pro tip: don’t let your seven-year-old name your dog, unless you want the dog to have a really stupid name. For some reason my sister and I liked hanging out in the neighbor’s yard; I think it was a bit more attractive and nicely landscaped than ours. The neighbor, however, did not appreciate our appreciation, while we did not appreciate the sophisticated notion of “private property.” Our neighbor was subsequent dubbed a “mean old lady.”
It’s hard not to glorify the days of my childhood; kids today seem to have so many more restrictions on them, as well as responsibilities and pressures. All I had to do was sit back and watch to see if Gilligan and the rest of the crew would get off the island that day. Those were the days.
I was trying to think of which after-school memories were my favorite. I fondly remembered the elementary years. There was plenty of time before dinner to watch the local kid channel and to play outside with my friends. There were cartoons, super heroes, and reruns of Lost In Space and I Dream of Jeannie. Once out the door, we’d act out our favorite characters, ride our bikes or play games like freeze-tag. After dinner, we’d carry on until called in for the evening.
From Junior high on, it seems most my time after school was spent in cheerleading. It was a small school and offerings to the girls were slim. It was sometimes a struggle to have enough players for a team sport. I loved playing softball whether or not it was a real team. One year, the boys’ basketball coach undertook the girls’ softball. He was serious and I don’t think I’ve ever been in fitter shape. The team walked around so sore the first couple of weeks of practice. As girls, we drove him nuts. A bunch of us sang together in choir, ensemble and, of course, the church choir. We really enjoyed our harmony. He’d be steaming over a game we’d just lost and we’d be singing away in the back of the bus. He’d lose it and turn around screaming at us to shut up. We’d wait about ten minutes and start again.
As a cheerleader, we never knew who would be handling us and if they were forced or happy to do it. But, it was something that was there for us to do. We liked cheering for our school’s basketball team. Later on, they added in the thrill of cheering for soccer, an embarrassment to bear in addition to our ugly uniforms. A fellow cheerer and I got in a lot of trouble for skipping a game. We did not want to show up as soccer cheerleaders at a particular public school where we knew people. I can’t remember what price we had to pay. I do remember the lady who was in charge of our squad being furious.
Basketball season was mostly fun. Our school was reserved and we considered our skirts too long. As a Christian school, the cheer “Go Go! Get em get em! Ooh! Aah!” was removed as being too suggestive. Under the pressure of cheering for a state game, the squad forgot and began this illicit cheer. The two coaches went nuts from the side-lines causing us to want to die from embarrassment. This was before the day of being thrown high into the air, twisting and twirling towards the earth trusting some one to catch you. No, we started each cheer with a swing-step and a hand clap; “Ready? Okay!” Our genius came in devising new mounts with which to end the cheer. We did cartwheels and splits that we practiced after school, always trying to improve our gymnastics and spotting each other as we did our back-walkovers. We planned bake-sales and learned new cheers for pep rallies.
The long bus rides back from away games always seemed the bonding moments of the squad. We rode in the back of the second bus filled with teachers and administrators. Quietly, we’d talk about our cheers, how we had looked, boys and drama-filled school gossip. Often, it was snowing and in the late dark and quiet, it had the feel of a beginning of a sleepover. Not so, if it was a weekend game. We’d be anticipating arriving home to plans of dates or hanging out with our friends. It made me happy to recall these times and to my fellow cheerleaders I say, “Go Go! Get em get em! Ooh! Aah!”
Please share your memories of what you did after school in the comments below.