A Ribbon

photo 2Last night I found myself fumbling through a collection of “stuff” that had been accumulating for years down in nether regions of my basement.

I’m sure it’s something that everyone does from time to time — going through weathered cardboard containers of old photographs, love letters and school yearbooks that clutter basements and attic crawl spaces. Of course, some of these “memories” I had told myself to dispose of years ago and yet, here they still are.

I suppose it’s just as well. It’s always nice for me to remember the curious, artistic, naive child I once was am. And by now you should be fully aware of my affection for life milestones. If there’s an anniversary of a memorable day, I love to talk about it – and today is no different. Because buried deep beneath the mounds of 1970’s comic books, VHS tapes and teenaged poetry I discovered a ribbon. And not just any regular old run-of-the-mill ribbon mind you. This was a single, purple-colored ribbon with the words “Porter School 1978-1979 – 1st” emblazoned upon it.

I tried to remember what huge endeavor I must have overcome 35 years ago to achieve this great glory. Fortunately, there was a tag affixed to the ribbon which gave me the answer.

photo 1It was near the last day of fourth grade – June 5th, 1979 to be exact. My elementary school had a fun-filled day planned at a nearby park. Kids competed with each other in games of skill like the egg toss and three-legged race – and to each victor there went a win, place or show ribbon!

This particular award I won by besting at least a hundred students in the Sack Race. (Ok, that’s a bit embellished, but to a nine-year old boy who had come in first place for the very first time, it felt like I had just won a marathon).

This ribbon is also significant because it was the final year of school before they tore down Porter Elementary. A school that had stood for nearly 88 years in Easton’s south side but by this point had become obsolete and a bit of an eye sore. By fall, I’d find myself being bussed across the city limits to Palmer Elementary School and away from my typical routine of walking three blocks to school every day. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced such a drastic change from my normal, comfortable schedule.

Porter School (Circa 1979)

Porter School (circa 1979)

What’s ironic is that in my discovery of the 1st place ribbon, I also stumbled upon another award I had won. It was exactly one year to the day of my victory on the grid-iron that my fifth grade class placed second in the Silent Spelling competition of 1980. Yet through all of the other triumphs that would follow, nothing from my childhood tops that final end of school victory at Porter Elementary.

Second Place exactly one year later.

Second Place – exactly one year later.

Busing to schools quickly became the new norm. Then there were school lockers, late bells, final exams, adolescence, girls, graduation…. you get the picture. Every year more and more responsibility and every year the award (much like its blue color that slowly became purple) faded further and further into history.

Looking back, winning that ribbon was a wonderful achievement. But I don’t think I kept it around after all this time simply because I won the Sack Race in fourth grade. No, the real reason this ribbon still exists thirty-five years later is because it will always remind me of an innocence I once had.

About James Wood

Influenced by life, love and the pursuit of the perfect song is what best describes my passion. I’m a closeted classic rock/metal-head from the 80′s who loves to write.

Posted on June 18, 2014, in Childhood Memories, Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Visiting from the yeah write weekly writing challenge.
    Last month while hunting for something else in a closet, I came across a similar box of nostalgia. It’s funny how a simple object can spark so many memories.

    • Thanks for stopping by! It’s funny how so many of us have these boxes of memories tucked away… and how therapeutic it can be to open them up from time to time. :)

  2. Aw. We all need to be reminded of such things. I was musing the other day about photos. I hate having my picture taken nowadays. But, it is the pictures of my youth that really cement the memories of those events so well in my brain. It’s a shame we don’t get more chances to be in sack races and other stuff as adults. I guess being on the yeahwrite grid is similar, come to think of it.

    • I feel the same way. I do not like having my picture taken either. But seeing pictures of the platinum blonde boy from the late 1970’s always makes me smile. I might have to check out the yeahwrite grid – I’m always up for another “sack race”… :)

  3. As a kid, I didn’t like those things they wrote on the back of the colorful ribbons they gave us for winning something. Somehow I had this idea that it cheapened the ribbon. Now, I’m so glad they did, or like you, I would never remember what exactly they were each for!! Even just seeing your picture of the back of your ribbon feels nostalgic to me.

    • I am glad I wrote on the back of it. Just seeing my handwriting from that long ago spark so many memories. I made a similar “discovery” a year or so ago. My brother still lives in the house we grew up in. One day he started tearing down layers of paneling to remodel the bathroom when he discovered some writing we had done as kids back in 1977. At the time, our parents didn’t care because they were covering it up and thank goodness they didn’t. I stood there and stared at my writing for the longest time just remembering the child who wrote it. — If you want, you can read about it in an entry called “Time Capsule”: http://gojimmygo.net/2012/10/07/time-capsule/

  4. I’m a saver of everything, so on those occasions when I go through all my stuff, it’s like Christmas. So much fun to look back at it all and reminisce about the life I’ve lived and all the people who’ve been in it. Fantastic post!

    • Thanks Linda! I’m glad you liked the post. I’m the same way as you. I love going through these treasure chests of memories and reminiscing about life and the things I’ve enjoyed over the years.

  5. The BEST day in elementary school was field day, it was where you won and lost friends. Congratulations on your achievement, I’d wear that as a badge of honor for a LONG TIME. :)

  6. Natalie DeYoung

    This makes me wonder where all my ribbons went…darned if I can’t even remember what they were for.

    • I remember being hesitant about writing down what they were for back then. I thought the writing would somehow soil the achievement. SO glad I did it.

  7. Aww I remember field day! I came in 2nd in Long Distance running. Never first. Darnit. Good job!

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