Remember School Swag?

pencils.jpgIn my neck of the woods, kids started school this week. And it got me thinking about my own school days. One of the best things about school starting again was the swag: new pens, pencils (no. 2 for standardized tests) notebooks, shoes and clothes. Especially the clothes! Was it the same for you?

Some years though new stuff was a little thin on the ground. My dad, a steel worker, got laid off when the local mill started downsizing. Finding a comparable job to support a family with three growing kids was tough. As soon as I was old enough I started babysitting and cleaning houses to earn my own money. It was a great feeling, but I would think long and hard before parting with any knowing how long and hard it took me to earn! (A little context, in the ’70s babysitters in the U.S. were typically paid $1.00 or so an hour. Jeans cost $15-20.)

Sadly, back then I didn’t shop at thrift stores. Ever. They were for “poor” people. As a teenager I would have died a thousand deaths just walking into one. And the thought of wearing some stranger’s castoffs seemed, well, icky.


Thank goodness those days are behind me. Now I adore thrift stores. I have no problem wearing secondhand clothes. Some of my favorite jackets, purses and jewelry items have likely had several owners before me!

A few years back I bought this vintage men’s Levis jean jacket on eBay (approx. $34 with shipping) and more recently this Julia Duren leather messenger bag for $18.35 at my local Goodwill. Both of them are sturdy, pre-owned, quality items that will outlive me! (My oldest daughter often borrows the jean jacket.)

Alas, alas, I am set in the clothes and shoes department this fall. Don’t need a thing. But I do get a vicarious thrill when shopping for goodies for my store.

Spotted this bracelet at my local Goodwill. Was hoping the carved bits were bakelite, but when I pulled it out of the bag, I discovered they were stone, likely aventurine and carnelian. Feels great on and perfect for autumn.

So far I haven’t been able to find anything similar for sale. Most stone stretch bracelets are made of round beads, chips, or big panels.

I also found this Polish wood box. These are fairly common (and not expensive), but still attractive and handy items for corralling keys, coins, rings, etc.


And this wonderful vintage plaid wool scarf (made in West Germany) is in pristine condition.

These are just “bread and butter” items, not big scores, but perfect for the upcoming holiday season!

How about you…any favorite back-to-school memories?


  1. Yes.Karen, we used to make a trip to Chambersburg to buy peaches to can and to shop for back-to-school clothes hopefully no one else had!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed a couple of clothing items that you passed on to me. One of them was pilfered by my sister Cindy almost immediately. I’m pretty sure there is a picture of her wearing that top.

    Liked by 1 person

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