Schools are refilling with gaggles and giggles of students well stocked with iPads, flash drives, laptop computers and the occasional book.
Do three-ring binders exist anymore?
The tools of the trade have improved tremendously since the days we rode our barefoot dinosaurs to school five miles uphill both ways through three feet of snow.
Sure, the new-fangled electronics look like fun. But what I miss are the good old-fashioned metal lunchboxes.
Remember lunchboxes? They were colorfully decorated with the images of favorite TV shows or toys. Characters were embossed in outline relief, creating a low-tech 3-D effect.
Thus equipped, we traipsed off to school in the company of the Munsters, Snoopy, Superman, the Lone Ranger, the Monkees or the Beatles.
By the time my baby sister was thrust upon elementary school, lunchboxes had turned into plastic. The pasted-on paper pictures peeled off in the dishwater. The plastic cracked in the cold Ohio winters.
Technology simply has not replaced the metal boxes we old-timers carted back to school.
My first lunchbox was the Disney school bus. The Thermos tucked into the domed bus top, leaving plenty of room for sandwiches below. Or a place to smuggle a G.I. Joe to school.
Goofy was at the wheel of my school bus lunchbox. On one side, Mickey held Pluto while Dopey and Dumbo were among the faces peering out the windows.
Goofy. Dopey. Dumbo. Pluto, a dethroned planet. All pictured on a Mickey Mouse operation. In retrospect, my Disney school bus lunchbox may have set my course in ways my parents never intended.
Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie waved out the windows on one side of the bus and Mickey's nephews, Mortie and Ferdie, smiled from the other side. BUT, turn the lunchbox to the front and two of the ducklings and one of the mouselings stood up front with driver Goofy. Spin to the back and all five nephews grinned out the back windows.
I think I missed an entire year of first grade math trying to puzzle out how they could be so many places at once.
After the school year ended, I ran my school bus lunchbox across the carpet like a Tonka truck, and loaded the insides with crayons, army men, throwing stones and secret treasures.
I carried other lunchboxes over the years. I only remember that first one.
It was a sad day when I graduated to junior high school and found out it wasn't cool to carry metal lunchboxes. All of us "packers" carried our PB and Js and pudding cups in brown, paper bags.
At the end of lunch, I folded the bag and took it home. We used them until the tape couldn't hold the tatters anymore before plucking the next fresh lunch sack from the drawer. Brown paper bags did not last as long as a metal box embossed with the likes of Gomer Pyle, "Star Trek," Flipper or the perhaps more academically appropriate "Get Smart."
It's been too many years since I've carried a metal lunchbox. You know, I'm also way past ever being considered cool again.
So, does anyone know where I can get a metal lunchbox embossed with the Batman? Let's step back to the days when lunches were technology-free. And then we'll scramble up the monkey bars before going back to the office.
---- Pack lunch with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.