As we approach the hour of our New Year and hopes of our future surround us; days which have left us in our current state hit the boards of our mind’s center stage, as we think of the good moments and at times dwell on the bad. Most often during this time our memories fade back to this exact day of our departed youth as we wade into the waters of gone but not forgotten celebrations of another year, another dream. It has been the fortune of many students in recent generations to enjoy the eve of the next calendar as they pondered whether old acquaintances should be forgot whilst enjoying the celebratory cheer; and with their answer found themselves on the morrow in repose with superstitious cuisine and football dancing on the tube. However, this same relaxing tradition has not always awaited the scholar, as it seems in years before; School impatiently summoned the learned to immediately grow accustomed to writing the New Year upon their paper as school began on January 1st.
An anecdote of this occurrence came in the 1923 Thomaston Times, as it was reported that R.E. Lee Institute opened for classes on January 1, 1923. The City School Superintendent, Mark Smith, a World War I Veteran and former principle of R.E. Lee, wrote the article and interestingly enough stated that it was the largest attendance for the Spring term in School history. Another notation by Mr. Smith, was that this was the first time in many years that all of the teachers returned after the Christmas Holidays. Surely when the bell tolled midnight, the pupils had wished to be up to celebrate another year of their youth. Although leather helmets were not colliding on a television, perhaps somewhere on the radio dial USC and Penn State could be heard playing in the Rose Bowl. Nevertheless, December 31 was a school night and students were required to be in school the next morning. After all, it is not as if the students could miss school just because it was a new year, as the enacting of a truancy law occurred exactly three years prior.
It is possible that students were not as opposed to this requirement in 1923 as the entertaining events of today were not even a thought in their pre-digital world. Conceivably, they were anxious to get back to the hijinks of adolescence and to reconnect with friends. Perhaps they forfeited a free cold day in order to end their School year a little early for a few more days of chances at a pleasant Spring walk with their love among the Dogwoods. The young are not known for their patient planning but maybe the view of the dead leaves from the warm side of the windowpane bothered them little as they knew of an evening’s nap and a good book at the foot of a blooming azalea. However, maybe they did not want to go back but their agrarian society mandated it, as the cold fallow days bring forth not fruit but the warm days held ample toil. Nevertheless, it could be easily surmised that today’s youth are grateful for the lack of academia on the first day of the year, but should appreciate those who came before which knew not the days of idle conveniences, but should have.