When I was in grammar school, there was no such thing as a field trip.
Oh, maybe public schools (a.k.a., "pubs") - with their lower standards - like letting kids where jeans to school - went on field trips. But Our Lady of the Angels in Worcester, Massachusetts sure didn't.
How could we?
Classes had anywhere from 45-50 kids in them. There was one nun per 45-5o kids. And our nuns were semi-cloistered, so they couldn't have taken us on a field trip, even if they'd wanted to. Plus buses were expensive. If we had that kind of money floating around, we'd use it to buy us some more pagan babies.*
Anyway, I never went on a field trip until I was in high school, when we made occasional runs into Boston to the Science Museum or some cultural event. One time we came in to see an opera. Unfortunately, it was kiddie day, and most of those in attendance were grammar school. The kids were wild, out of control, running through the aisles, blowing into their Good 'n' Plenty boxes. (Must have been pubs.) The performance was one of those ones with the dying heroine - Traviata? La Bohème? The crowd was so raucous, Mimi/Violetta - whoever was hacking and dying up there - cracked up on stage. So much for deathless drama.
This is a field trip time of year, and the sidewalks of downtown Boston are jammed with kids on field trips.
The other day, I encountered a group of what appeared to be junior high school kids on a field trip, down from some town in New Hampshire.
Now, Boston is a great place for a field trip, because there's an awful lot here that's of historic or cultural interest.
You can see Paul Revere's House. Old North Church. Bunker Hill. The U.S.S. Constitution. The site of the Boston Massacre. The Boston Tea Party.
There's the wonderful St. Gaudens memorial to the African American Civil War troops (whose saga was portrayed in the movie Glory.)
We have museums aplenty.
We have Swan Boats (Public Garden), Duck Boats (Charles River), and tour boats (Boston Harbor).
We have a couple of tall buildings you can go up into and quite possibly see New Hampshire.
We have lots of stuff, but, apparently it's of the you-must-be-kidding, shoot-me-now, bored-out-of-my-skull variety which holds no interest to the modern day kid. (In olden days, we would have been so thrilled to have been sprung from class, we would have been happy to tour a slaughter house or dump.)
I figured this out when I saw that the junior high kids from New Hampshire were pretty much all holding shopping bags from Abercrombie & Fitch. One kid had four.
Is the only reason to come into Boston on a field trip to go shopping at A&F which, I'm quite certain, is available to shoppers at any number of malls between here and there?
Yes, I know everyone likes to buy a souvenir when they're on a field trip. But it appeared that the main feature of this excursion was shopping for A&F gear.
I guess it's "shop free, or die," these days.
And me, I'm just a crank, getting crankier by the day.
*In that era, Catholic school kids contributed mission money that we were told went to baptizing pagan babies in Africa or Asia. We, of course, translated this into "buying pagan babies". We were also told that when we bought our babies, we got to name them. One year, we reached the $5 - cost of a pagan baby purchase - on my birthday, so the p.b. was named after me. For years I was haunted by the thought of some poor kid in Africa called "Maureen Elizabeth" and wondering how that happened.