When I was in elementary school during the last years of the 1950s and the first years of the 1960s, we celebrated birthdays in school. The birthday kid got to bring treats for the class, and the class would sing “Happy Birthday” to him or her. It wasn’t a huge celebration, but it was a nice acknowledgement of the occasion.
(The treats were almost always homemade, cookies or cupcakes crafted by the birthday kid’s mom. There weren’t nearly as many regulations back then, and no one worried about kids being allergic to peanuts, eggs or whatever. In some ways, it was a better time. In many ways, of course, it wasn’t.)
Kids whose birthdays fell into the three or so months of summer vacation didn’t get to celebrate, of course. The thought comes to me today that perhaps the teachers, during the last days of school in spring, should have organized a birthday celebration for those kids who’d mark their birthdays during summer vacation. I’m not sure why that didn’t happen.
There were some kids whose birthdays were, as one might say, on what we’ll call the vernal cusp: kids whose birthdays fell in late May and might or might not fall during the school year. Some years they got to celebrate in school, some years they didn’t. And then there were some kids whose birthdays were on the autumnal cusp: kids whose birthdays were in early September, sometimes falling after Labor Day, when school began, and sometimes falling before – or on – Labor Day.
The thing about kids with birthdays on the autumnal cusp is that it seems as if it took a week or so for the teachers and the moms to get everything organized, so kids whose birthdays fell in early September, as far as I can remember, never got to celebrate with their classmates. I was one of those kids, with a birthday falling on September 5.
Yep, today is my birthday, and that’s something I don’t recall sharing at school during those six years of elementary school. A quick check of a calendar site tells me that my birthday fell after Labor Day and on a weekday – and thus on a school day – in 1961, 1962 and 1963, during my first weeks in third, fourth and fifth grades. (The other three years of elementary school my birthday either fell before Labor Day or on a Saturday.) I remember a lot of things from those three years, but I don’t recall bringing treats for my birthday.
I know what treats I would have brought to school: My mom used to make some bars – among the ingredients, I think, were peanut butter and brown sugar – that were then topped with chocolate and chopped walnuts. I can see them in our metal pan with the sliding lid as I write, and I remember that when she made them, they didn’t last long. And it would have been nice to be able to share them with my classmates.
I think the pan with the sliding lid is on a shelf in the fruit cellar here, but of course, it’s been years since it had bars in it. Maybe it’s time to change that. Maybe Mom and I should go through her cookbooks – she still has several of them at her assisted living center even though she doesn’t really cook anymore – and see if we can find the recipe for those bars. They’re easy enough to make, I think.
Well, if that happens, it won’t be today. And there are no classmates to share the bars with anyway, only the Texas Gal and the four cats. It’s maybe just as well. The chocolate wouldn’t be good for the catboys, and the Texas Gal and I sure don’t need to down a pan of bars on our own.
So there will be no bars to share. There might be cake later on; I do not know what the Texas Gal has planned for the day, but I am certain it will be at least as good as having twenty-five third-graders serenade me with “Happy Birthday.”
And we’ll close this with an appropriate tune: Here’s the Swingle Singers’ take on the Beatles’ “Birthday.” It’s from the 2002 album Ticket To Ride: A Beatles Tribute, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.