Neighbor Logan wasn’t avoiding having his picture taken, but he wasn’t posing, either. I was chatting with his dad and neighbor Marla as he paced back and forth, waiting for the school bus. I got what I wanted – Logan with the decorations Marla put on the sign. If there were a contest for best decorated house for Halloween, Marla would win it. She is gradually adding things to the house and grounds, these being the furthest pieces.

100417 Logan with Marla's decorations (2).jpg

Looking at Logan’s backpack made me wonder how I carried things to school when I was his age. Gradually it came back to me. I carried a satchel. Backpacks were not the “in” thing in 1949. This image came from Bing on the internet. Note it had a handle, not a shoulder strap.


Some time after second grade I carried books girly fashion in the crook of my left arm. The higher the grade, the bigger the books. There was a heavy textbook for each subject, and homework was assigned from every one. It’s a wonder I wasn’t permanently disfigured by lugging all that weight around. If I remember correctly, fellows held their books with one hand hanging by their sides. Granted, their hands were bigger, but they couldn’t possibly have toted the amount girls did. There! I’ve answered the question, “Why did girls do better in school than boys?”

By the time I married, stores put big items in shopping bags for you to carry home. I re-purposed them for many things as a matter of convenience. They were made of heavy paper with twine handles. I’m sure if I search carefully today, I can find indentations in my hands, cut by those handles. It wasn’t until the mid-70s that I owned a plastic tote bag. Before long, cloth totes were common, and they were certainly a boon for the hands. Now in the 21st century, we have graduated to backpacks for all ages. If you never carried a satchel, shopping bag, or tote bag, tell your hands and your back how very lucky they are. If they say, “Thank you,” please let me know.

24 thoughts on “Satchels

  1. The one about carrying books in the crook of the arm brought to mind memories of teenage crushes… My first school bags that I remember were hand me downs from my father, relics from the various academic conferences he attended. Graduating to a back pack – I believe the brand was called ‘Shuttle’ – was a big deal and made me feel like I had joined the cool kids… Thanks for the memories… 🙂

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  2. I carried my books in the crook of my arm. No backpacks or totes in my world. However, in college I met this nice fellow who liked to carry my books for me… seems quaint in retrospect but that gesture of kindness went a long way toward getting me to say “I do!”

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  3. Thanks for the memories, Anne. I don’t think I had a satchel ever. But I remember reading about them in the Famous Five books ( Enid Blyton, England, circa around the 1940s) and wondering what they were. Now I know.

    In the 1970s when I went to school, we had aluminum boxes with a handle similar to a suitcase but made of aluminum. We had them in different colors- mine was the aluminum color itself. My one memory is that my grade 2 aluminum box was run over by the school bus when it reversed in the parking lot and my box was in the way- everyone else had removed their boxes in time. I took a crushed box and books home, and I remember my father trying to put my books straight again.

    In the 1980s, I had a sort of backpack made of cloth or jute or even a shoulder bag made of cloth or jute which our mothers used to sew or make for us. It was a craft thing of that age, where mothers made bags for their children- even the plastic tote bags were made with a crochet hook with plastic thread.

    We had very heavy text books too but they somehow fit inside our bags. I think these days children carry very little books- its either note paper or a lap top in a back pack.
    Nice picture of the trees and Halloween welcoming Marla’s sign. What a beautiful place you live in, to be sure.



  4. Logan is so cute. Backpacks were not the ” in” thing when I was in grade school in the sixties. We had bags too but didn’t carry as much books and school supplies as kids do now.

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    1. A friend in England said her son was required to carry a satchel with the school logo on it when he was in primary school! Her younger son is three years old now, and she expects him to be carrying one when the time comes.

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  5. I too carried a satchel-It was brown and sturdy. I wanted a pretty one, but daddy always bought the sturdiest-even in shoes and coats-They were very boyish to me. Now, kids hardly take books home! The schools here, do not allow text books to go home-I suppose too, that homework is often “on line”. We called the satchels book packs. Gosh you made me remember-thank you


    1. I can imagine brown and sturdy through the eyes of a sensitive artist. I hope I understood when my children wanted pretty things. No, I failed. I remember when Lise’s only desire was for jeans. They weren’t pretty, but they were what she wanted. At the time, I made all her clothes, and jeans were not on the shopping list. She survived. She might have forgiven me by now.

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  6. Oooh I remember the pain in my hand and arm from carrying all my ‘stuff’ around. To school, from school, from room to room in school. And the worst was … cookery lessons. Bag fill up with ingredients … bag empty of ingredients but filled then filled with books …. AND now a box filled with whatever it was I made that day, to try and keep upright and not drop.
    Ahhh, school days. They were good … and bad, but I have happy memories to carry me along.
    GREAT post Anne. (sorry I’m late to the party …. I’m trying to catch up).


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