Tag Archives: Barker’s

Back To School, Back In The Day

The other day, Terry Brannigan got the Bedford Middle School supply list.

Which got the native Westporter/alert “06880” reader thinking.

He remembered back-to-school shopping, back in his day.

Cool kids at Long Lots Junior High.

Cool kids at Long Lots Junior High.

It was, he says, singular and simple: a “humiliating trip to Paul Zabin’s.” That was a kids’ clothing store in Colonial Green — now the site of George Subkoff Antiques — where, Terry says, “for some reason every girl I had a crush on was shopping the same day.”

What made the experience so excruciating, Terry explains, was that “well-intended mothers forced corduroy on their embarrassed sons.”

I don’t remember corduroys — but I do remember enormous battles over whatever type of pants were considered cool (in 7th grade, they had to end well above the ankles), which of course was exactly what mothers hated.

Terry nails it: “The haberdasher at Zabin’s knew who buttered his bread. If a debate arose about fashion, he always sided with the mothers.”

Fortunately, we could always count on Schaefer’s — next door to Max’s Art Supplies — for sneakers. Tip or Charlie knew exactly what we wanted.

For non-apparel supplies — 3-ring binders, pencils, protractors (?!) — it was Barker’s.

And that was that. One trip. Bingo.

Today, back-to-school shopping is a month-long event — for no reason other than retailers have made it so. There are endless choices — of stores, fashions and supplies. It’s all there, everywhere.

Except protractors.