Things were a lot different when we went to high school than they are now.

First of all, we wore clothes that covered more of our bodies, our hair was groomed and not a bunch of weird colors. The male teachers wore suits and ties, while the female teachers wore dresses or blouses and skirts.

We also learned to count change correctly, spell, use proper English and, most important of all, have respect for our elders.

Many of us had a job after school and doing our homework required trips to the library to get the information we needed. There were no computers or fancy cell phones to give us the answers back then, only lots of research.

No one had a backpack to carry their books; we used our hands. The girls always liked to have one of the boys carry their books for them. It was even better if the boy was someone special to you.

It seems to me that girls picked their boyfriends by who had the coolest cars or was on a varsity team. Being able to wear his much-too-large-for-you varsity jacket was a real trophy. And wearing his school ring with lots of bandage tape to keep it on your finger was a symbol to all that you were going steady with him. A lot of boys back then wore thick chain name bracelets in sterling silver; wearing his bracelet was another thrill.

Boys, on the other hand, seemed to want to date the cheerleaders more than anyone else. For whatever reason, those girls were always sought after first and foremost. I guess it was sort of like our wanting a varsity team member for a boyfriend.

Going to the local malt shop was another must for most of us because that was the hangout for everyone. Some of the cool bad boys would drive by there and rap the pipes on their cars that were lowered and had skirts on them. The James Dean look was in for them. Leather jackets and white T-shirts with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve. Of course, they had to wear dark blue Levis to complete the look.

If our Levis became worn or faded, we threw them away. Nowadays some people pay outrageous prices to buy jeans that are torn, threadbare and bleached.

Many boys wore cleats on their shoes; they were practical and kept the heels from getting worn out so fast. Boys liked them for the noise they made when they walked on the sidewalks. Some of those cleats were so big that they almost looked like small horse shoes.

Drugs and weapons were not visible in our school days. There may have been some marijuana, but I never saw or heard of it being used by anyone I knew. Mainly, we smoked regular cigarettes and to get high, you had a coke with an aspirin or smelled copy fluid. Not that either one of those worked, but most of us tried it at least once.

Schools were a safe place to be back then and no one was afraid to go unless they hadn't studied hard enough for a test. One thing we seniors all can agree on is that going to school when we did was a lot better than it is now.

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.