FRAZIER: My first bookbag and the wonders it held

Published 4:00 am Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sometimes, I struggle remembering things that happened a few years back, and when I do, I joke and kid and say that it happened in “my first life.” 

And while there are events in my past that I simply can’t recall when my kids talk about them, there are others that are as vivid as if they happened yesterday. 

One of my lucid memories is my first school bag. 

I wouldn’t call it a backpack, because it wasn’t. It was more like a satchel and just the right size for a first grader’s school papers and No. 2 pencils. 

This little bag of mine was made of a pleather-like material and the front had a plaid design. My little school bag also sported two brass-colored fasteners to keep it shut tight and in addition to its handle, it also had a shoulder strap. 

I loved that little school bag, and I loved it even more when it was the means for me to bring home the softback Sally, Dick and Jane books. 

These first primers are archaic now; you may be able to find some on eBay or remakes in hard copies, but back when I was in elementary school, these little books were the door to teaching us kids in the 60s how to read. 

I will never forget reading about the adventures of Sally, Dick and Jane and their dog Spot during my school lessons and then coming home and re-reading the stories to my mom while she was preparing dinner. 

Learning how to read was the main reason I was excited about going to school. 

While I enjoyed the other aspects of an elementary school day — hanging out with my friends at the school bus stop, drinking chocolate milk during a mid-day break and playing on the playground — it was the part of the day when we worked on learning how to read that was my favorite. 

I am not sure what it was that sparked my interest in wanting to learn how to read. 

Certainly, looking at a book and imagining what the story was about by focusing on the pictures was engaging, but the mystery behind the printed words compelled me to want to know more about the story. 

To me, learning how to read can be likened to a blind man being healed of his affliction, and for the first time being able to see the beauty around him. 

The written word has the capacity to touch your soul, whether it’s in a passage from the Bible, a beautiful poem or from the artistry of a skilled author. There is also power in reading. It can serve as an equalizer because reading is the key to knowledge. 

Admittedly, there were times when reading was a chore. Long assignments given out as homework were never as exciting as a Nancy Drew mystery. Required reading was also a challenge. But looking back, I don’t know if I would have ever challenged myself to plow through a lengthy novel had it not been for my 8th-grade reading list. 

John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” was an interesting choice for students reaching puberty, but maybe it was the storyline that my teacher knew would incline us to continue reading the lengthy narrative. 

After finishing the classic, I knew I would never again be afraid of reaching for a book with hundreds of pages. 

This served me well as I began my journey reading Ken Follett novels, beginning with “Pillars of the Earth.” 

As parents, we serve as role models to our children. If they see us doing something, they often times will follow suit. 

Therefore, I hope I have imparted to my children a love of reading.  

I know as young adults and parents, their lives right now are full of other commitments. Reading waned for me during these times. But when the freedom from sleepless nights and constant carpooling arrived, I found myself searching out new tales and adventures with books once again. 

The start of school is right around the corner. I don’t know what kind of bookbags or satchels are popular these days, but no matter their design, they will all have the capacity to hold entire worlds.  

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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