Nerd’s the word: Back to school time was special

Summer is rapidly disappearing. Heck, the furnace in my apartment building has kicked on several times this month what with the temperature dipping into the 40s a few mornings.

With summer’s rapid passing, as the television ads are pounding into our brains, it’s almost back-to-school time. And there’s something I must confess. When I was a youngster, this was my favorite time of year. Going back to school was something I welcomed.

Does that make me a nerd? Most people would probably say YES, but that’s OK by me. It’s a label I have worn proudly my whole life. Some think they are throwing an insult your way by calling you that but to me, being a nerd is absolutely fine.

Truthfully, the whole labeling of other people schtick should be passe by now. Modern people should not categorize one another, but should appreciate the differences that make each of us unique.

Geek. Burnout. Jock. Spaz. Or whatever the present-day equivalent to those words are, I reckon. Those are labels that should become obsolete.

In my adult years, I have come to appreciate being a nerd, which to me is defined as someone who likes learning, who loves reading and enjoys discussing ideas. Not everyone regards being a nerd in a positive light, apparently. This I know because of course, being a nerd, I went to an online dictionary and was a dumbfounded by the definitions found therein for nerd: 1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person and 2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

The second definition is in the neighborhood of mine, but that first one? Ouch. Stupid and nerd have never been used as synonyms in my experience and the other three adjectives are just plain mean.

Regardless, I am a nerd and as a kid, August was when it was time to start preparing for the coming school year. My mom would take me shopping for new shoes, notebooks, folders, pencils and other goods needed when going back to class.

The catalogs from Sears and Montgomery Wards – Monkey Wards to me and my friends – were studied and page edges were downturned when desired clothing items were found. Talking my mom into ordering all those new clothes was quite a negotiation.

This was in the days, you must understand, when catalog ordering was the only way to go in my mom’s estimation. She was never an avid clothes shopper so we didn’t make trips to local stores to buy our wardrobes. Back then, in the 1960s and 1970s, there were far fewer choices in local retail shopping.

We are much luckier nowadays to have myriad options locally.

This time of year was exciting because of the anticipation of returning to school, especially in my pre-teen years, before I could drive. Seeing my school friends whose paths I hadn’t crossed since the previous year of school let out was something which I enjoyed.

Wondering about the teachers and lessons that would be part of my school life increased my hopes that the coming year would be the best EVER.

My nerdiness has stayed with me all these years. I still love to learn and I don’t care who knows it. And decades away from the education realm, it still feels to me like the new year really begins when school starts.

Many won’t agree, but this is a most wonderful time of the year.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is