Remember When People Passed Notes in Class?

Remember when people passed notes in class?

I do.

In third grade I conspired with some classmates to make another classmate believe he was being stalked by a ghost. I wrote notes in a squiggly lettering that said things like “Your parents don’t love you” and “Courdoroy pants are in your future.” We would leave the notes on his chair when he got up to sharpen his pencil. He was looking worried by the second note. I was pleased at how smoothly the plan was going. When lunchtime approached and we were forming two gender-based lines, a classmate and co-conspirator put his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s over.  He knows.”

“He knows? Who told him?” I was ready to kill this person who had the temerity to ruin my plan.  But it turned out to be a kid who was much larger than I, and I decided that for the sake of everyone’s education I would not press the matter further.

When I was fourth grade I passed a note to a nearby classmate named Charles, saying “Charles is a big oaf.” Señora Goldfarb, our Spanish teacher, caught me and made me write it in Spanish a thousand times. After a few hundred I started getting tired and making mistakes, and as punishment I was not permitted to participate in the Cinco de Mayo celebration, where every student was responsible for making his parents buy an authentic Spanish dish for the class.

In high school there was a girl named Gretchen who passed notes by folding them into the little triangle, which everyone called a football.  She would flick the football in the direction of her intended audience. Gretchen had bad aim and a few times the note landed near Mr. Mauser, our math teacher.  Whenever this happened Mr. Mauser would pick up the football and ask who it belonged to, and when Gretchen confessed he would ask her whether the football formed an isoceles or equilateral triangle.  If she was right she got the football flicked back to her.  If she was wrong he opened the note and read it. Gretchen soon became the go-to sophomore on triangles.

I don’t know whether today’s students still pass notes, but I’m sure many are electing to text their cruel missives.  No teachers to avoid, and no fellow students to recruit.  No one would know if you were passing a note or checking your stock portfolio.  Until someone accidentally texted the teacher.

Thanks to Toni Calabrese for the topic.

28 thoughts on “Remember When People Passed Notes in Class?

  1. This is hilarious. My note passing days ended as soon as one of them was intercepted and read out loud. I can’t even remember what the note said, but the humiliation was everlasting!

  2. It’s funny because I was just thinking about this the other day…DO kids still pass notes? I mean I can’t imagine a middle schooler whipping out their phone to shoot a text mid class, but writing out a full note while pretending to take notes is more plausible. But then again, kids that are still in school (and hell the people I even went to college with) don’t have much respect in the way of keeping their phones in their bags during classes.

    Passing notes was a huge part of my school years, I think I probably still have a box of them somewhere at my mom’s house all folded in their orginal football or fancy square shapes.

    1. That’s a good point about notebook paper being more easily concealed than a cell phone. Just the opposite of the adult world. In the adult world, if you whip out a notebook and start writing, you get weird looks. But if you whip out your smart phone and start typing, people nod with approval.

  3. Who is Gretchen???? I was the best equilateral note folder in HMS, according to recorded history…. LOL!!! I remember passing a note that said , “Mr.O is a **** job!” I got caught, and the result, my father being asked to Mr. O’Connell’s office was NOT a good scene. I love this blog, Mark, Thanks for the laughs.

  4. I SO remember doing that! We had the “footballs” and we also had the “envelopes” that we folded our notes into. We also kept notebooks and passed those in the hall.

  5. We still pass notes in class, mostly about who’s going for a drink after lecture. (The joys of being a student again.) However, I have spent one exceptionally rubbish lecture having a texting conversation with a friend sat in the same row as me. Never thought I’d be one of those people. 🙂

    1. And the notes are hilarious. My favorite was the student’s plea for a stay of all homework assignments because the bearded dragons at home had consumed 12 bottles of beer apiece, among other things.

  6. So great. Yes, I passed notes. Got busted bad in 8th grade too. The topic had something to do about girl hotness from our room up to Paula Abdul. There may have been images included. My mom did not approve. Stupid Mrs. Dorn.

    1. I feel like a universal law of note passing must be that you have to get caught at least once. And I bet there’s a psychologist somewhere who published a study concluding that students pass notes subconsciously hoping to be caught.

  7. I lost out on being in the National Honor Society because my teacher caught me writing a note about which people in the class deserved a punch in the nose. (Not from me, I have no idea how to punch people in the nose.)

    1. You got blacklisted for that? That’s harsh. I didn’t think schools were that draconian anymore. I figured you’d have to commit at least a Class C felony to lose your opportunity to pay an extra $5 to wear a red sash at graduation.

  8. Those footballs!!

    Never got caught passing notes. My friends and I would write novels to eachother, just rants about how dull a class was or how pretentious some girl was or that boy was cute. They were pages long sometimes. It’s amazing I picked up any learning.

  9. I passed notes all the time in school. Anything from cute boys, to what was on TV that night, to the fact that the girl behind me was picking her nose and it grossed me out (still grosses me out). Honestly, I just did it to pass the time as I had a bit of a short attention span…I think my teachers just gave up trying to stop me from doing it because I never really cared if I got caught or not.

    Thanks for the great post…reminded me of the good ol’ days when I had no worries, and didn’t care about authoritative figures. 🙂

    1. That would’ve been great if the teacher intercepted the note about the girl behind you and read the note aloud. Glad you liked the post, thanks for stopping by.

  10. This is hilarious. My friend and I were a year apart and in high school had the same math class and would pass notes. Then we went to the same university and ended up in a history class together. She would draw comics of the professor and pass them to me. We both still have those comics 10 years later and they still make us giggle. I remember making the football triangle thing, but I don’t recall how to do it. There was another way of folding that we used to do all the time, now I think I have to go and refresh my memories!!
    Now to snoop some more on your posts!

      1. She never did catch us. They were stick figure drawings so they were very flattering…The prof had a white spiky mullet. It was glorious. She would also call all animals “critters” and when she was sick she would say she had the plague. She also loved FDR. That’s the only things I really remember about the class. I honestly don’t remember any of the content.

  11. I had a friend who would draw fantastic mazes and puzzles for me to solve in history class, and then she’d pass them to me, and I would give her my history box questions to copy. Yeah, students still pass notes, but they are rarely very interesting. I keep a drawer full of the creative ones.

  12. It’s been 9 years since I last took a note away from a student (purely for my own entertainment!) in class. Since then, it’s ALL texting. Very annoying, and so much less fun.

    It might just be because of your description, but I actually think I remember the trick ghost notes! You can enjoy your private giggle if I was not one of the co-conspirators, but I could swear that sounds familiar!

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