There really wasn’t a better day in the life of a kid than the last day of school. Sure, Christmas brought gifts, but it only lasted a day. The last day of school signified the carefree summer ahead, filled with adventure, love, laughter, and yes, a little boredom. But a boring summer day beat the classroom every single time.
Every kid took notice when the calendar flipped to June each year. The excitement over a two-month-plus reprieve from the classroom was almost too much to bear, assuming you weren’t headed off to summer school, which could really put a damper on things. Thankfully, those final weeks of June were usually filled with plenty of activities to make the time pass more quickly. First and foremost, there were finals to prepare for, but there was also usually a steady stream of field trips and outdoor activities to get us out of the stifling heat of the classroom, most of which did not have air conditioning back in the 70s.
And so they shipped us off to places like Fire Island’s Sailor’s Haven and a number of parks scattered around the island, also community swimming pools, movie theaters, and any other places that afforded cool temperatures on those hot and muggy June days.
And, after the field trips and finals, after all the yearbooks were signed, the last day of school arrived – and kids all over Long Island proceeded to lose their minds. This was the day when few paid attention to littering, throwing all that spare notebook paper on the floors while cleaning out their lockers, and out of the windows of the bus on that last glorious ride home for the season, screaming with joy the entire way. Bus drivers were less than pleased but they put up with us for the most part.
Once you stepped off that bus, you were free. No more waking up before the sun, no more tests, no more full schedules. The day was yours to hang with friends, eat Italian Ices, walk to the mall, or take one of those dreaded family road trip vacations, sitting alongside your equally miserable siblings and thinking bad thoughts about them.
Truth is, we all probably spent our summers a little differently. Some of us worked jobs, some of us traveled, some of us had a pool and the rest of us had the garden hose. But all of us yelled and ran for change when the bells from the ice cream truck drifted over from the next block, and we all savored each day of summer, at least until the severe boredom set in. By the time August was wrapping up, most of us were starting to miss all of the school friends we hadn’t seen and ready to get back to work, or at least socializing. We had come full circle.
Sadly, there is no video from those last days of school from yesteryear. Hollywood did give us a reasonable depiction of the 70s mayhem at least, in the 1993 film, Dazed and Confused:
The one thing nobody ever tells you as a kid is that you only get so many “last days of school” in life. Sure, when you have kids, you can relive it through their eyes, but you never again get to feel that same wonderful anticipation when the days of June wind down. You likely won’t ever get the chance to freely throw a stack of paper out of your car window and scream with joy in quite the same way either. The last day of school, a ritual passed down from generation to generation, is one of the most memorable days you can have as a kid, and in the 1970s, we enjoyed it to the extreme.
What do you remember most about the last day of school? Share all of your memories in our comments section below and help us relive the childhood glory.