With July on its last sweaty legs, all the talk these days is back to school and the countdown to the end of summer vacation. We’re approaching one of my two childhood favorite days of going to school, the first day back (the other, of course, being the last day), and accordingly, the back-to-school sales are upon us.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember when summer vacation was pretty much a full three months, and by the time September came along you were ready to get back to the business of seeing your friends every day. Besides, you ran out of stuff to do all day long, I mean without Wi-Fi tablets and Wii machines and a zillion channels on cable TV, you had to provide your own mischief, so to speak.

Those growing up before, say, the 1990s were filling their summer with outdoorsy things and staying out and playing in the yard unsupervised till past eight, but that was when times were not as perilous and parents would run their kids out of the house. I suppose I’m no different from other pre-Gen Xers when it comes to romanticizing their growing-up years.

Speaking of which, I was scrounging around trying to organize my collection of 45s last weekend. Going through your old record collection is like a walk down memory lane. There are several hundred I’ve accumulated over the years; since the early sixties, actually, and into the eighties.

Maybe I should insert here for historians that a 45 was a vinyl record; the little one with the big hole, as opposed to the big ones with the little holes.

My growing up was shortly after the doo-wop era, back when songs were (I can’t believe I’m writing this out) dip-dip-dipping, oo-wah-oo-ing, and bomp-bomp-bomping, passionately sung by fresh-faced groups like The Platters, The Diamonds, The Coasters and so forth. What’s weird, though, is that by the eighties pop bands started running out of objects to name themselves with and had to come up with names like Kagagoogoo, Chumbawamba, Ummagumma, Bow Wow Wow, Bananarama and Oingo Boingo.

But I digress.

It hit me last week that we were past the middle of July when I went to the store and couldn’t help but trip over stuff for back-to-school blocking the aisles and people scrambling to buy the aforesaid stuff

It makes me think of when the weatherman is saying a big storm is on the way, so everybody runs to the store to stock up on milk and bread (including yours truly, even though in the end the bread gets moldy and the milk goes bad before we use it all).

At any rate, the shelves are packed with vast quantities of notebooks, binders and related implements of academia. Funny though, I haven’t found an abacus on sale at Walmart yet.

The first day of school for Socorro is August 3, for Magdalena, is August 8, and Tech’s is a week after that, so there’s still time to stock up on pencils, paper, binders, and various and sundry clothing needs. I was going to say trapper-keepers, Lone Ranger lunch boxes, Big Chief tablets and LePage’s mucilage, but then I would be romanticizing again; harking back to the days of shopping at the five-and-dime store. What I find interesting about back-to-school sales is that in their ads they throw in other not-so-educational products like cell phones, flat-screen televisions, video game consoles, headphones…all things that have nothing to do with the three Rs.

Of course, laptop computers are ubiquitous in every classroom now, but isn’t it amazing that we entered the nuclear age with not much more than a slide rule?

On a more serious note, tomorrow, July 29, is National Chicken Wing Day.  Wings can be fried, baked, broiled or barbecued, anything but pre-made frozen from the supermarket. All that being said, however, homemade are the best.

I get the little beauties all lined up on a baking pan with the grill thing on top and bake them plain for fifteen minutes on each side, and while that’s going on I mix up one-third cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce with a third cup of melted butter. Then I swab ’em down and bake for fifteen minutes, take them out, turn them over, and swab down that side and bake for another fifteen minutes. This turning and swabbing thing goes on over and over again until I run out of sauce.

After all that baking and swabbing, they end up nice and dry and zesty.

By the way, slaving over a hot oven for all that time gets me remembering last January when I was saying, “I can’t wait for hot weather.”

I think I’ve learned my lesson, so don’t expect me to start saying, “I can’t wait for cold weather.”