Thank you, Jennifer Cooper, for doodling in my blogger year book!
First-day-of-school photographs, and school picture days, seem like monumental days at the time. And, somehow, they remain epic years later.
We still remember why we chose a certain outfit 20 or *ahem* 30 years ago. It is not only a snap shot of one day, but also a commentary on who we are or want to be. School pictures define us for years to come.
Today, we are going behind the pretty smiles and carefully chosen outfits to hear the real stories of school pictures. I’ll go first. I have to admit that deep down I’m still the dorky, smiley, glasses-wearing kid you see here at 9.
HELEN (yes, this is me!)
So, I was a dorky kid. My mum made my pinafore dress and all my clothes. And clearly, my mum cut my hair (she was way better at making clothes.) Just tonight I was laughing with my Mum that she never cut my fringe (bangs) straight. And her response? "Well, your girls don't have straight hair either." Hee hee. Love my mum and yes, I was 9 years old and tied that windsor knot all by myself.
The second picture was right after my family moved to the U.S. I was in tenth grade and cried for a week because I thought I had blinked whan the photographer took the picture. Much to my relief, it was an okay shot!
RAF Rheindahlen, Germany 1983 and King, NC 1991
This is my husband, Eric. His mum cut his hair too, but curly hair is a little more forgiving. Isn't he a cutie? His parents took a picture of him on the first day of school by the same front door every year - from kindergarten to 12 grade. Impressive, right?
Manhattan Beach, CA 1977
In 1962 kindergartener Debbie Clement was celebrating winning a coloring contest – her prize was the dress she is modeling. Now she is the owner of Rainbows within Reach, a business bringing music, art and literacy to kids. Jasper, Indiana 1962
Isn’t this picture of Natalie F, from Learning with Mouse, beautiful and so classic? It is a studio portrait of Natalie on her first day of school in USSR. The same uniform was worn throughout the Soviet Union – a brown dress for girls, with a white apron for special days and a black apron for normal days. I am in love with the satchel! Minsk, Belarus 1976.
How happy am I to have twins represented? So, so thrilled, and especially because these twins are English! The girls are dressed in their summer and winter uniforms to show off both outfits for their great aunt who was a nun visiting from India. The Monko, of Taming the Goblin, and her twin sister were 4 and it was their very first day of Roman Catholic infant school. Hampshire, England 1980
Twin Fact: the girls got exactly the same results on their IQ test at age 8, their GCSEs at aged 15 and their A levels aged 18 (despite different schools for the A levels.)
At 4.5 years old, Jen Berlingo of Paint Cut Paste was a huge fan of anything Jim Henson (thus the lunchbox), anything made of terry cloth (thus the chosen romper instead of frilly dress her mom wanted her to wear), and the smell of sawdust (her grandfather, dad and mum were in the final stages of building their house!). Jen remembers boarding the bus and receiving a tag with her name, bus number, teacher's name, and room number on it, and feeling like that meant she could not get lost out in the big world of kindergarten. Pungo, Virginia Beach, 1980
The only memory Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play has of her first grade picture being taken is the photographer ‘parted’ her hair using a black comb. It was NOT her natural parting. “Lord knows how many other kids he used that same comb on!” says Jennifer. Ijamsville, MD 1981
This is the longest Jenny Yarbrough’s hair has been since 1983. It was also the year Jenny of The Southern Institute got chicken pox. Jenny doesn’t remember having strong feelings either way about her outfit, but two years later her mother picked out a boyish school picture outfit that Jenny hated! Deerfield, Illinois 1983
While Jane Kohlenstein of Buzz Mills does not remember choosing her kindergarten outfit, Jane still remembers how unhappy she was with the boyish plaid tie her mum made her wear for her first grade picture. West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1983 and 84.
Jane’s kindergarten picture is extra sentimental this year as her own daughter, Violet, is heading off to kindergarten.
Celina Bailey of Petit a Petit and Family second grade picture shows her crafty beginnings with a handmade floral chocker and striped shirt. Her smile is closed because she had lost all of her front teeth! By third grade, Celina had her style perfected and is wearing her most favorite outfit ever – a gold accent knit sweater and floral baggy pants. Montreal, Canada, 1983 and 84
Celina is one of the most stylish people I know, so it is no surprise that she started her fashion trends early. In fact, Celina’s mum was quite a trend setter and Celina’s older cousin would (and still does) send her hand-me-downs from Paris. How cool is that?
VALERIE AND ALEX
Here is Valerie and Alex Metzer, the duo behind Glittering Muffins. They grew up so far apart in Canada and Germany. Valerie chose special clothes for her first grade school pictures - it was her Christmas outfit and it had a matching skirt. And 6 year-old Alex, Valerie’s husband, is holding a cone filled with school essentials and little gifts – a fun German tradition. Pointe-Calumet, QC Canada 1983 and Laufen in Bavaria, Germany 1979
Little Roslyn Russell of Sew Delicious felt important to be wearing her school uniform for the very first time. Sydney, Australia in 1985.
Marigold Haske of Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! had visions of being a mini real estate agent when she chose a fancy blazer for her second grade picture. Thankfully, Marigold grew up to be a creative whiz - check out her blog and see how she hasn’t aged a bit. Clark Air Force Base, Philippines 1986.
In fifth grade Kelley Gilbert of Casa Crafty was inspired by the Baby-Sitters Club book series to abandon her awkward self and curl her hair, wear a pretty sweater and pearls. Kelley became a ‘valley girl’ for her school picture. Fortunately, Kelley’s valley girl look only lasted a day and now she is a self-proclaimed ‘goat herding sewing machine welding mama.’ St. Helens. Oregon 1989
Kelly Innes of Domestic Goddesque was in her final year at Giggleswick Prep-School, a private boarding school in Yorkshire, and had just sat through what felt like the longest speech day. Ever. Although Kelley was returning to the senior school in September, Kelly’s parents were picking her up and they were going to visit family before moving to Cairo. Giggleswick, England 1990
What will our children say about their school pictures? Will they be proud of their picture or 20 years later will they not-so-secretly wish they could have worn an entirely different outfit? Either way, the day will be forever planted in their minds. It is monumental!
Would you do this?
If you have a story about an outfit you wore to school, or your best/worst school picture, I'd love to hear it!