Summer is rapidly coming to an end. Too quickly for me, I might add. I like the kids being home.
A new school year is another year closer to them leaving the nest. I like them being in the nest. I like a loud, lived-in, messy nest.
I look as forward to Christmas break, spring break and any other break as much as a parent as I ever did when I was a student.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to two days per year, Field Day and the last day of school.
Field Day was the chance for me to show off everything I had studied at home that school year. The last day of school was the only day of the year my desk was clean.
I remember once in elementary school Bruce Erion was supposed to land the 11Alive helicopter at our school. That was an exciting day.
Right up to the point where we saw the helicopter hover over the playground then fly back to Atlanta without ever landing. I guess Bruce didn’t want any part of a Union City elementary school.
There was another day when a big eclipse was supposed to be seen. I remember teachers making a huge deal about being blinded if you looked directly at the eclipse.
That terrified me. Not looking at something you’re not supposed to look at is next to impossible, at any age. I didn’t fully appreciate my eyesight at that early age, either.
In an effort to save us all from a lifetime of self-inflicted blindness, teachers had us make some makeshift eclipse viewer out of a shoebox. I don’t remember all the instructions. I know you had to poke a hole in the box, that’s about it.
My eclipse viewer turned out to be defective. I've never been good at do-it-yourself projects. It would have been just as good to walk outside and close my eyes because that’s all I saw, darkness.
I’m also pretty sure I looked up at the sun that day too. But since I still have my vision, I can't be 100 percent certain.
I think the whole shoebox eclipse viewer was the result of teachers betting each other in the teacher’s lounge. I’m not sure if schools still have teacher’s lounges, but in 1980-something Union City all you had to do was follow the cigarette and coffee smell and you would find the teacher’s lounge.
I think one day the teachers were sitting around the ash trays and coffee maker, just chewing the fat, when one of them bet another one that they could get all the kids to stare into an empty shoebox.
Someone lost a bet that day because we all stood out on the playground staring into empty shoeboxes. The worst part is that was the year I had the Velcro-fastened shoes from the Zayre’s on Old National Highway, so I didn’t even have a cool shoebox.
I wonder if the kids with Nike shoeboxes saw the eclipse that day. Maybe that was my problem.
Come to think of it, I wonder if Bruce Erion saw my navy blue Velcro shoes from the air, radioed back to 11Alive and told them the deal was off. I’m not saying I blame him, they were pretty ugly shoes.
(Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff.)