a vestige of thought...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Sticker Store

When I was in fourth grade my class had a miniature economy. Our currency was stickers and Volker Vouchers. Mrs. Volker was my teacher, hence the name of the Volker Vouchers. A Volker Voucher was worth 10 stickers. Money could be acquired in several ways. Stickers were awarded for doing well on a paper or a test. There were also many jobs for which one got paid (one Volker Voucher a week). To get a job you had to write out an application for the teacher to review. Each quarter jobs were reassigned. I was librarian for three quarters and accountant for one.

Being librarian meant that I got to put all the books in alphabetical order on the shelves, keep track of who had what book, and try to badger people into paying fines when they returned things late. It also meant that I got to keep a box of cards on my desk along with (and this is the best part) a stamp pad and date stamp. I don't know how or if I learned anything in fourth grade because I never paid attention. Instead I would create cutouts on the cards and make prints with the stamp pad on my papers. I dated all my papers with the date stamp. I quite often came home with ink all over me. But I had a grand time.

As accountant I kept track of "oops slips." People got 'oops' slips for turning in homework late, acting out in class, and a huge number of other things. When given an 'oops' slip a student had to answer four questions, the content of which I don't recall. If you finished the school year with no 'oops' slips, the teacher took you to Graeter's. There was more of a point than that to keeping track of such slips, but I don't remember that either.

After one saved up heir Vouchers and stickers, one could spend them at the Sticker Store. There were all sorts of things at the Sticker Store. In hindsight I can see that they were mostly junk, but in the eyes of a ten-year-old, they were treasures. I bought candy sometimes (candy was cheapest). My biggest purchases were a teddy bear with no eyes and this hideous gold fake-jeweled bracelet with all the paint chipping off. I glued iridescence marbles where the teddy bear's eyes used to be. It looked incredibly freaky, though I didn't think so at the time. I wore the bracelet continually for most of my fourth grade year (and got many "compliments," I might add).

Mostly, though, I bought notebooks. Notebooks cost 15 stickers. I often accumulated 20-30 stickers/Vouchers a week, which bought a lot of notebooks. I liked to buy brand new pencils to write in them with. If I did learn anything in fourth grade, it was because of these notebooks. These were my journals just before my first journal and I'm sorry that I kept so few of them. I wrote about everything from how boring math was, to how annoyed I was with a certain girl who I had to sit next to and be partners with for most of the year, to how unfair life was for a biracial girl in my class whose mother was blind and whose classmates made fun of her for everything. I'm not sure what happened to those notebooks, except for the one that I found when cleaning out my desk. Probably they were thrown out with the rest of my elementary school papers that I finally convinced myself to get rid of at the end of fifth grade. Oh well.

In the middle of the last quarter of fourth grade Mrs. Volker changed the Voucher's format to include a picture of her in the middle. I won a Voucher that week for being the member of the class to write out the most combinations of change that make a dollar and was awarded the first of the new Vouchers. I remember Mrs. Volker telling me that I should keep this one and frame it. I forgot that I even had it until a little while ago when I realized that it's under the glass cover on my dresser. It sent me on a trip down memory lane. Fourth grade was a fun year.

The end.
posted by Christy at 9:31 PM


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