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The changing design of backpacks

Backpacks are in; bikinis are out.

As school bells ding-dong, school girls now hoist on backpacks instead of slipping into their "itsy-bitsy yellow polka dot bikinis" once described in a yesteryear pop song.

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With Labor Day weekend looming, bikini clad girls — for this summer's last time — may wear their favorite gear as they hit the water.

After Labor Day, stash the bikinis along with the sunscreen.

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Backpacks range in size and material. Designed from medium to large, they also vary in material from light to heavy. Add books and a binder and you're talking very heavy.

As for style and color, backpacks have followed the path of food products; there's a dazzling variety to confuse a buyer.

Probably there's even a yellow polka dot backpack, resembling the bikini described in the pop song.

If you have a favorite color, finding a backpack that's just right will be easy.

Buyers with varied pocketbooks may choose from bargain store knock-off to pricey ones from high end stores such as L.L.Bean.

Gone are the days when school-goers of all ages carried "bookbags." Un-sporty in appearance, they also were carried by a handle, thus tying up one arm. With both arms free, it's easier to eat a candy bar that has lingered in your lunch pack.

A few students, mostly "walkers" who live near their school, tote an arm-load of books. I recall a friend of my daughter's, whom we picked up daily en route to Franklin, virtually tumbling into the back seat of our car amidst a flurry of books, notebooks and loose papers.

Today's students usually ride buses or many drive their own cars. Once school resumes, both create increased traffic, causing headaches for impatient drivers who get behind a stop-and-start school bus.

Baltimore County is easing into reality with school days this week followed by a holiday weekend.

Once Monday comes, school is for real. Load those new backpacks and hit the books.

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