“Practical Education 3”

After a few days to deal with car problems, I return with the third skill we learned in the seventh grade from Mrs. McElveny. We were entrusted to run the school store. Situated between the classroom and the audio visual room, the store consisted of a large counter, a place to stand behind it, a change box and assorted classroom supplies in compartments on the counter. We sold pencils, paper, erasers, rubber cement, glue and paper clips.

My favorite offerings were boxes of Ace Reinforcements. We all bought them though none of us ever used them. They were meant to fit over a ripped hole in a sheet of loose-leaf paper thus “reinforcing” it for its return to the binder. As far as I can recall we simply stuck them wherever we felt like, though never on ripped paper holes. I can still recall the exact taste of the glue on these little circles, so I must have bought them too.

We learned to make change, though always for coins. I don’t think anything cost more than 5 cents and I doubt we ever received more than a quarter. Mrs. McElveny kept us supplied in the nickels and dimes we needed to do business transactions with the younger students. Everyone looked forward to being old enough to work in the store, and I had the chance to “wait on” my admiring younger siblings.

I only spent one dreadful year in retail sales, but it was long before cash registers did the work for the clerk. As I made change I remembered how I once thought it would be exciting to work in a “real” store. Sadly the most fun I ever had in sales was many years behind me.

In case you wondered

23 thoughts on ““Practical Education 3”

  1. I actually used those things! I also took a Retailing class in high school, and we ran the store for students. It was a lot of fun. My last job in high school was as a salesclerk at JC Penny. I rather enjoyed it. But that was enough. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The trouble with those little things’ was they never fit perfectly over the spot they were supposed to. They’d never line up correctly with the prongs which meant the paper (or card) would be sqew iff and not sit straight in the folder. Or they wouldn’t stick and got caught on the prongs. It ended with you having to turn the papers carefully muttering at the same time


  3. This is important, practical education. Buying and selling, and making change are things kids need to know how do today- without a computer on the cash register to tell you. Oh, I loved the reinforcements, and still use them. Have you ever reached out to Mrs. McElveny to say thank you?


  4. remember it well… I worked in Woolworths on Saturdays for a couple of years. This was before they went ‘self service’ although I seem to recall a lot of youngsters did help themselves even then. I was on the first counter as you came in, in the centre of the shop . One side was stationery and the other was make-up. We stood behind that counter all day apart from when we were relieved for a lunch break and a tea break.
    then I got a job in a coffee bar further up the road, when a friend left. It called itself a coffee bar, but was more a cafe; it closed at 6pm. It was a whole other experience from Woolworths.


    1. You have brought back in full detail my shopping times in Woolworth’s. There was so little packaging. The little tubes of lipstick were all laid out. Of course my friends loved stealing them. I was too scared to try.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I also loved those reinforcements though the ones I used had built-in adhesive. Everything I did from Grade 9-12 was stored in three-ring binders so those were really useful.

    I worked in retail when everything was done with a cash register but a year or so before the scanners came in. One colleague and I vied to be the fastest, both of us doing 60+ items/minute with full accuracy – remembering all the codes for the veggies and bulk foods. I still can remember a few – bananas were 113 (scale) 1 (tare for the bag)) code, for example.

    But I didn’t miss out on learning to go without a calculator. I remember working cash at a book sale when I was about 11. The calculator died and a kind adult showed me how to count change up from the total cost and I never forgot – and did that ever since from the grocery store when I was 15 all the way up to working cash at the co-op at 45.

    (By the way – I’m enjoying all of your posts but syncing them to my e-reader for offline reading. I have to remember to be better about making notes about what I want to say and actually writing it when I get to a computer….)


    1. I love whenever you comment. Don’t worry about skipping. My daughter worked for American Airlines and had to memorize all those airline and airport codes much like the produce ones. I wish more young clerks understood making change without the cash register doing it for them.

      Liked by 1 person

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