Saturday, November 26, 2011

BELLE OF THE BALL

Back in my olden days, Mormons in the Washington DC area held fast to their Utah connection.  Most of them had probably been born in Utah and ended up in Washington due to employment. They may have lived in the Washington DC area for decades, but Utah was still home and was the place where they would probably retire. Their ties to "Zion" were strong and deep. There was a Utah State Society in the DC area that was mostly made up of  LDS church member with ties to Utah.  My parents were members.

Back in those days, a common social event for older teenage girls was their debut.  When a girl reached the age of about seventeen or eighteen, her parents presented their daughter, or debutante, to society at a fancy party or ball.  It came from an old custom of letting society know that you had a daughter of marriageable age.  The debutante was "shown off" to society families with the idea that rich parents who had an eligible bachelor son might find her suitable for marrying into their family.  But it was just a fancy way to hopefully get your daughter married off and out of the house.

The Utah State Society had it's own form of a Debutante Ball.  In the winter, a ball was held where all of the girls who were seniors in high school were presented to society.  Along with forty three other girls, I debuted at the Utah Belle Ball in the winter of 1963.  It was held at one of the Marriott hotels in the Washington area.  I remember descended a long flight of stairs into the ballroom as my name was announced as the daughter of Morley and Dixie Christensen and then I had a dance with my father.

 1963, Utah Belles.  I am in the third row, 2nd from the left 

Even though there were plenty of well-to-do society type people in the Utah State Society (government officials, congressmen, the Marriotts and even Ezra Taft Benson) with eligible bachelor sons, my parents were never approached about a marriage proposal...probably because I lived on the wrong side of the Potomac River. But that really wasn't the purpose of the dance anyway.  It was just a night to feel special and be recognized.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

COLLEGE PLANS

Some time in the late winter or early spring of my senior year, I started to make college plans.  Many of my friends were going through the lengthy decision and application process that comes with deciding on where to go to college.  For me, it was pretty simple.  It was always a fore gone conclusion that, if I went to college, I would go to BYU.  That's what most LDS girls living away from "Zion" did.  They went off to BYU, primarily to find a good Mormon boy to marry.  Plus my sister, Linda, and brother, John, were already in Provo attending BYU.

Back then, the requirements to get into BYU were pretty easy.  All you needed was to have at least a "C" average, take the ACT test, have an endorsement from your Bishop and you were accepted.  There wasn't even an application deadline. I'm sure that with the competitive requirements that BYU has today, I would have never gotten in.  I'm smart, but was a lazy student with just average grades. I hadn't really taken college prep classes in high school.  My curriculum was more secretarial/business based. But I filled out the application, took the ACT and got my Bishop's endorsement.  Not long after, I got notice that I was accepted.  My friend, Norene, applied to BYU as well.  We made plans to be roommates on campus.

So, in the fall of 1964, at the age of  seventeen and a half, I would be living far away from home as a freshman at BYU.  I had no idea what I would major in, but looked forward to the new experience.

Friday, August 5, 2011

RAH! RAH!

At JEB Stuart High School, there was an annual Varsity - Faculty basketball game.  It was a pretty big deal. Part of the event included having special cheerleaders chosen from the senior class.  Seniors nominated candidates.  Then those candidates were voted on by only the senior class.  Votes were 10 cents a vote with all the proceeds being donated to the senior class fund.  You could vote as many times as you wanted.

My friend, Cory, nominated me for cheerleader.  I didn't think that I had much of a chance since it was more or less a popularity contest.  I had friends.  But I didn't think that I had enough in the senior class to be chosen as a cheerleader.

Containers were set up in the cafeteria for the week prior to the basketball game.  I was very surprised when the money in each container was counted at the end of the week.  I had made the cheerleading squad!!  Really??

The Varsity/Faculty game cheerleaders had to borrow uniforms from the regular cheerleaders.  I was lucky that one of the girls on the squad was about my size.  Her uniform fit me perfectly.I had a fun time pretending to be a cheerleader at the game...my one and only experience as a cheerleader. 

It was until after the game that I found out how it came to be that I was voted a cheerleader.  My friend, Cory, had stuffed the ballot box!  In addition to the votes that I got from my circle of friends, she had put in $2. Her votes alone represented half of the senior class.

Being a Varsity/Faculty game cheerleader was about my only claim to fame at JEB Stuart High School.  I even had a picture with other cheerleaders in the yearbook for that year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

After elementary school, my mother wasn't much for giving birthday parties.  But for some reason, when I turned 17 my senior year of high school, she decided that I should have a nice party.

Even though my birthday fell right after Thanksgiving and she had cooked the full Thanksgiving meal, she put on a sit down dinner for me and several of my friends.  She did all the cooking, baking, serving and clean up for the evening.  I think that I had requested another Thanksgiving dinner so she had to repeat the meal that she'd prepared just a few days before.

My mother set a beautiful formal dinner table, complete with centerpiece, silverware and china for eight teenagers.  My friends and I were all in our Sunday best.  For my birthday, my mother had made me a cranberry colored velveteen skirt and a pink blouse out of a satin like material.  I felt pretty special being the honored guest wearing my new outfit. 

Even though my mother did a lot of entertaining for her group of friends and for holidays, this was the only time that I remember her doing something special like this for my birthday.  It was a wonderful evening.

Monday, August 1, 2011

SENIOR AT LAST!

In September of 1963, I started my senior year of high school.  Having spent my junior year trying to find my way in a new high school,  I hoped that this last year of high school would be a little better.  From the friends standpoint, I had found some kids to hang out with so the social life would be a little better.

 Having proved myself in the choral department, I was also in the A Capella choir and Madrigals.  A Capella was my first class of the day.  We had a lot of fun in the choir room waiting for class to start.  Those of us who played the piano would often sit down and play before class.

As a senior, we had senior privileges.  We could eat somewhere other than the school cafeteria, if we wanted.  There was a small courtyard between the two wings of the school that was exclusive to seniors.  Back in those days, students did not leave the school grounds AT ALL during the day.  Going to a local fast food place for lunch was not an option.  In fact, it was grounds for discipline if you were found in the school parking lot during school hours. Students bought lunch in the cafeteris or from home. So having the senior court was a big deal.

I was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America.  I guess I must have had grand ideas of being a business woman back then.  An event that the FBLA took on every year was the Miss JEB Stuart contest.  It was basically a talent/beauty pageant.  On the day that President Kennedy was shot, I was alone on the school stage preparing decorations for the contest that was to be held that night. When the announcement came over the school PA about the events in Dallas, I immediately returned to my English class.  We all sat, silent and stunned, as we listened to a radio broadcast.  When the President's death was announced, school was dismissed for the day...almost an hour and a half early.

With my group of friends, we went to football and basketball games.  There were also the occasional weekend party.  None of us really dated.  In fact, we called ourselves the "Stay At Home" gang.  Often when there was a big school dance, we didn't go, but opted for going to a movie together.  Back then, you didn't go to school dance without a date and with the exception of one girls choice dance a year, girls didn't ask boys to be their date to a dance.  I never went to a Homecoming dance or a Prom.  

One of my friends was a pretty girl named Kathy.  She was an occasional model for Seventeen magazine.  You'd think that a pretty girl like that would have boys after her all the time.  When she was chosen as the Sweetheart Queen for the Valentine's dance, she needed an escort for the dance. She didn't have a boyfriend and as the date of the dance got closer, she didn't have a date.  It never occurred to any of us that she should just ask a boy to be her date.  It was the football team quarterback who came to her rescue.  In a casual conversation with him, he found out she didn't have a date.  He stepped up and asked her to be his date. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MULTI GENERATIONAL HOUSING

My oldest sister, Karen, married Niels in the fall of 1959.  Niels was a Danish citizen in the U.S. on a work Visa.  They met through a ward member who had met Niels at a grocery store where he worked and invited him to church activities. Niels wasn't a member of the church. But after a period of time, he was baptized and he and Karen were married.  They returned to live in Denmark for the first year or so of their marriage.  Not long after their return to the U.S., Niels realized that even though he had a good Danish education, he needed more education in order to be well employed and better support his family.

To help with the living expenses for my sister and her family while Niels was in college, they moved into the lower level of the new home on Columbia Pike.  They used the large bedroom downstairs as a combination living area and bedroom.  The laundry room, with it's double cement sink, was turned into their kitchen.  A refrigerator and stove were installed and I think some shelves or cupboards.  Since there was an outside entrance from the basement besides the sliding doors to the patio, they had their own entrance to the lower level.
I think the set up worked fairly well for them.

But, Karen and Niels had at least one child when they moved into and there were no additional bedrooms finished downstairs.  My father, and probably with Niels' help, took on the job of finishing two additional bedrooms in the unfinished downstairs area.

Karen and Niels lived with us for a couple of years.  Since Karen worked full time, my mother cared for her children during the day.  Often, when I got home from school, I took over the child care so that my mother could do some errands.

The downstairs kitchen and living space got more use when later, my sister-in-law moved in with her children.  My brother, David, was in the Army and had been sent to Korea for a period of time.  Ramona lived with us while he was gone. Eventually, the large bedroom downstairs was taken over by my father for his office.

My parents never really told me why they decided to move to a new home in 1962.  But, looking back, perhaps they knew that there would be a need to help some of their married children by providing child care and housing.  We hadn't lived in the new house too long before Karen and Niels moved in.  So I'm guessing that the multi generational living arrangement had been discussed as part of the decision process.

We all lived happily together - grandparents, a married sister, her husband and family, me and my younger brother.



Monday, July 25, 2011

HER DREAM KITCHEN

The kitchen in the new house was a big improvement for my mother. She loved the layout.  According to her, a U shaped kitchen was the most efficient design. I know that when she and my father built a new house in Utah, she was adamant about having a U shaped kitchen.

She loved her electric, double wall ovens.  No more lighting the oven pilot light with a match whenever she wanted to bake.  Those double ovens got a lot of use when she baked and cooked big meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.   The turkey could be cooking away in one oven and she could bake rolls and other dishes in the other.  She also used the second oven as a warming oven.

The kitchen had a gas cook top.  She could have had electric which was the latest and greatest new thing back then..  But she wanted gas so that she'd have a way to cook should the power ever go out.  Smart woman.  I don't know if the power ever went out making it necessary for her to use only the cook top.  But she was prepared, just in case. But probably the biggest thing in the new kitchen was the dishwasher.  No more hand washing of dishes! Even I learned to love having a dishwasher.

The kitchen was big enough for a good size table under the window and with room to spare for my mother's sewing machine next to it.  Overall, it was a good kitchen arrangement....a dream kitchen of the early 1960s.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NEWER, BIGGER, BETTER

The new house that we moved into in the summer of 1962 was at 6308 Columbia Pike in the Lake Barcroft area of Fairfax county, Virginia.  Lake Barcroft was a large man-made lake surrounded by homes.  The people with a lot of money had lakefront homes.  The further away your house was from the lake put you a little further down the scale of exclusiveness.  Columbia Pike was a main, multi-lane road that bordered the area.  Our house was on the Columbia Pike frontage road and still considered in the Lake Barcroft...but just barely.  The dam that formed the lake was also on Columbia Pike.  My father used to joke that we lived on the Dam road.
The new house... 48 years later.
My parents purchased the house while it was still under construction.  My mother must have had a great time picking out paint, carpet and other finishes.  The only input I had was the color of my bedroom.  I picked pink...a very bright pink.  When the paint was put on the walls, it was so bright that when viewed from the hallway, the room had a neon like glow.  The problem was solved by painting the wall that faced the hall white.  The other walls reflected on that wall and made it appear to be a pale pink.

The house was a rambler constructed from used brick.  That meant that there were several different colors of brick on the house - shades of red, brown, black, white, and off white. The driveway curved in front of the house, with two entrances from the street.  This house was probably close to my mother's dream house.  She finally had a house with an entrance hall and master bedroom bath. I know that she loved the kitchen with all its bells and whistles that included a dishwasher.  The house even had the latest technology.  A Nutone Hi-Fi Radio/Intercom system made it possible to have music through out the house.  The main unit was in the kitchen, with speakers in the bedrooms and at the front door.  However, I don't remember the system being used for anything other than a radio.

 When entering the home, you could walk straight ahead and, slightly to the right, to the living room, which was on the back of the house.  The entrance to the kitchen was on the right of the entry with the kitchen facing the street.  The formal dining room was next to the kitchen, also facing the street.  The dining room was also an "L" extension of the living room. The open stairs to the basement were directly opposite the front door.  A decorative railing provided the necessary barrier between the living room and stairs.

The hallway to the bedrooms was on the left at the end of the entry.  The main bathroom was on the left side, with my parents room at the end of the hall on the left.  The glowing pink bedroom was at the end on the right.  My brother's room opened to the hall on right.  The bedrooms and bath were bigger than in the previous house.  All the bedrooms had large closets as well. Both of the kids rooms had large windows that faced the backyard.

In the living room, there were sliding glass doors that opened to a deck that ran the entire length of the back of the house.  I don't think we spent much time out there and I don't remember if there was ever any outdoor furniture on the deck.

Downstairs there were two large finished rooms and a bathroom.  The room on the right at the bottom of the stairs was the recreation room.  There was an area in that room that was designated as a wet bar in the original design of the house.  But since, there would be no need for a wet bar in our family, my parents made changes to the plans by putting bookshelves at either end of the area and a built in bench against the wall between the bookcases. The room on the left side of the stairs was quite big and was more or less the guest room. The laundry room was also downstairs.

The lot that the house was on sloped from the front yard down to the back yard.  The basement was thus a walk-out through sliding glass doors from the recreation room.  There was a patio outside the sliding glass doors.  But  I don't think it was used for much.

It was a lovely home. Especially after my mother put all her finishing touches on it.  She made all the window coverings for the home.  There were floor length drapes in the living room, dining room, and the downstairs recreation room.  She made cafe curtains for the kitchen, my bedroom and my brother's bedroom.  Fabric Roman shades were made for the bathroom windows and the master bedroom windows.  There were no venetian blinds or roller shades on any of the windows.  They were considered old fashioned at the time.

My parents lived in that house until the summer of 1968.  Even though my younger brother was still in high school, they  uprooted him.  But this time, it wasn't a move to a new house a few miles away. My father had retired from his long career with the Bureau of Public Roads and even though they hadn't lived in Utah for more than 40 years, they moved back.  Once a Utahn, always a Utahn, I guess.  Well, I understand that. Because if I'm asked where I'm from, I always say, "Northern Virginia" or "suburban Washington DC".  I haven't lived there for more than 40 years.

Note:  I found the above picture online in Google images when I was looking for pictures of Lake Barcroft.  The house is for sale.  There were a few interior pictures. The kitchen had been remodeled with an archway above the kitchen sink area into the living room.  It looked weird. There were hardwood floors as well.  The upstairs deck had been expanded off the living room. For $650,000, we could buy a former family home. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A LITTLE AMUSEMENT

Back in my olden days, there weren't the plethora of amusement parks like we have today.  Disneyland opened when I was in elementary school, but it was on the other side of the country.  We didn't have a local place like Lagoon.  But we did have Glen Echo Park.
Glen Echo Park was located in suburban Maryland.  Looking back on the place, it was small and charming.  But it had everything that a kid or teenager would want for fun and amusement.  We probably made at least one trip a year to Glen Echo Park.  I seem to remember that some of those outings were related to church activities.

 The rides were fun, but probably by today's safety standards, quite dangerous.  There was a ride called "The Whip".  One called the "Cuddle Up". There were roller coasters, bumper cars, an airplane ride, swimming pool with a sandy beach, a midway and picnic areas.  There was also a fun house with a large wooden slide that you rode down on while sitting on burlap bags.  In the fun house, there was also a large spinning table top like thing.  To get your fun and thrill, you sat down on this thing and tried to stay on it as it spun faster and faster.  There were probably some injuries as kids went flying off, unable to hang on.  I remember a mirrored maze where you could easily loose your way.

The bumper cars were really fun.

The Cuddle Up was probably a favorite of teenagers "in love".

The midway with the Airplane ride in the middle. "The Whip" is in the lower right corner.

I never went on this big roller coaster.  I was too chicken. I still don't like roller coasters.
But my very favorite ride was the carousel.  The carousel was wonderful.  When you rode the carousel, on every rotation, you passed a device that was loaded with metal rings.  As you passed the device, a carousel rider would reach out and grab a ring.  The ring machine was loaded with plain metal rings and one brass ring.  If you were lucky enough to grab the brass ring, you got a free ride.


From what I could find online, Glen Echo Park was closed in 1968.  But through the efforts of a local foundation, many elements have been or are in the process of being restored.  The carousel was one of them. Isn't it beautiful and charming?

Glen Echo was a delightful place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

IN UNCHARTERED TERRITORY

The fall of 1962 found me in a place that I had never been before.  I was the new kid at school.  I started my junior year of high school at JEB Stuart High School and  I didn't know anyone.  I had never had to worry in the past about making friends or trying to fit in at school.  I went to school with kids from my neighborhood and ward that I had known a long time. I had absolutely no skills when it came to making new friends.  I was totally lost.

I was nervous and scared as I walked in the doors of high school on that first day.  It was hard enough that I had to find my way around a new school.  But not having anyone that I knew to at least help me find my way from class to class made the experience even worse.  I was also upset that even though I'd been accepted into the A Capella choir at my old high school, I was put in girls chorus at the new school.  I was told it was because I was basically an unknown quantity in the choral music department. I had to prove myself.  It was like adding insult to injury. 

On that first day of school, I discovered that I did know at least one person.  When roll was called in one of my classes, a girl who had been a pretty good friend in elementary school was in the class.  We made the connection. She was a cheerleader and in the very popular crowd at school.  And as high school cliques go, they weren't going to just include me in their group because I was Ann's friend from elementary school.  Again, I had to prove myself.

I floundered through most of my junior year trying to fit in and make friends.  Thank goodness that I had associations with the kids from LDS Seminary and my ward or the year probably would have been a total disaster.  I also vowed to myself, that if I could at all help it, I would never make any children that I had change high schools with only two years left.  It was just too hard for me.  I knew it would be hard for them.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

SUMMER OF CHANGE

In the summer of 1962, I had no idea that a big change was coming in my life.  I spent that summer living away from home during the week working as a nanny.  On one of my weekends at home,  my parents told me that they had bought a new house and that we were moving before school started.   They had bought a brand new home, several miles away.  The move would mean that I would be going to a different high school and a different LDS ward.

I was stunned and upset.  I didn't want to move away from all my  friends.  I certainly didn't want to change schools for the last two years of high school.  I wasn't the least bit excited about a new, bigger, house, with a dishwasher, that was in a more upscale neighborhood that bordered a lake. To me, our house was just fine. But I had no say in the decision.  As a teenager, my life as I knew it was over.

Since I was gone from home during the week, my mother did most of the packing and clearing out of the home where we had lived for 14 years.  Having made many such moves as an adult, I know that it was a lot of work for her.  But back then, I had no concept of what had to be done.  She even took on getting my things ready for the move.

I came home one week and discovered that during the week she had gone through my bedroom and packed up most of my things.  But she didn't just pack up everything that I had. She had gone through my childhood treasures and trinkets and got rid of many things.  That was like pouring salt into the wound that I already had to deal with about moving.  I was very angry and crying as I asked her, "How could you do that with out asking me?".  It was like she had just thrown away my memories on top of making me move from the only home I had known.  It was devastating.

Ever since then, I haven't been much of a keeper of "things".  I guess my mother's actions told me that things and stuff that make memories aren't that important.  Keepsakes aren't important.  But, I have regretted that I didn't have my dolls and the clothes that my mother had made for the dolls to pass on to my daughters and granddaughters. I didn't keep the dresses that my girls were blessed in to pass on to their daughters.  I didn't keep the dress with hand smocking that my mother made for my oldest daughter when that daughter was about two. What a shame.  In all the moves that I've made as a married adult, it really wouldn't have taken much to pack away a few special things. But, I didn't.

The move to the new house happened during the week while I was living away from home.  I left on Sunday evening from the old house and came back on Friday evening to the new house. I don't even think that I got much of a chance to say goodbye to friends.  There was one bright spot in the move.  I would still see my church friends at early morning Seminary every day.  It turned out that some of my church friends families also bought new homes and moved from the ward that same summer. We were all sad that our life long associations were being broken up and that we'd have to forge ahead in a new school and ward.

Friday, July 15, 2011

WHAT DID I DO IN THE SUMMER TIME?

Back in my olden days, only really rich people had employees that they called Nannies.  The rest of us who took care of other people's children were called babysitters. During the summers of my high school years, I had a job as a babysitter.

My mother had an adult, married cousin with two children, who lived in the area. The first summer that I worked for the family, they lived close enough to us that I was dropped off at their house every day and came back home when the parents got home from work.  The next summer, however, the family had moved a little further away and travel time was a factor.  So I lived with them from Sunday evening until Friday evening.

My duties were pretty simple....take care of the two elementary school age children during the day, fix them lunch, and keep things in order around the house. For this I got paid $25 a week.  When they moved further away, I also had the perk of taking the kids to the local swimming pool when ever they wanted to go.  Occasionally, I did a little extra housework and got paid  another $5 or $10 a week.

$25 a week doesn't sound like a lot of money today.  But I thought I was really raking it in.  Today, I wouldn't be surprised if parents pay a babysitter $25 for just a few hours of babysitting in the evening.



Saturday, June 25, 2011

SCHOOL DAYS, PART 3

In the fall of 1961, I entered the tenth grade.  Yorktown High School was a former elementary school that had been remodeled and enlarged to create a new high school in Arlington.  Prior to that, all of the kids in my area went to Washington Lee High School.  My two older brothers and a sister graduated from Washington Lee.  My sister, Linda, got caught in the over crowding issue at WL and was bussed to another high school in the county and missed out on the family tradition of attending WL  Yorktown opened as a high school in the fall of 1960 with only tenth and eleventh graders.

Attending a new school without a lot of long standing traditions made is easier to get involved. Several of my friends and I started a new girls after school club, Amici Tri-Hi-Y.  We did service projects and had social events.  Our biggest event of the year was planning a formal dance with attendance open to the student body.  The dance was held at the "Broyhill Mansion"  The Broyhills were a wealthy family in the neighborhood and their daughter, Jane, was in our Tri-Hi-Y.  I think that it was her grandparents that owned Broyhill Mansion.  I remember little about the place other than it was large enough to accommodate 200 teens in a ballroom with a dance band.

Living in suburban Washington D.C., I went to school with the sons and daughters of congressmen, senators, and top government officials. My friend, Norene's father, was the under secretary to the Secretary  of Agriculture, Ezra T. Benson.  I also went to high school with the son of President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger.  At Yorktown, our biggest celebrity was David Glenn, the son of the astronaut, John Glenn.  John Glenn was the first American in orbit.  On February 20, 1962, our entire school listened to a radio broadcast of his lift off and the splash down.  I had a study hall when the life off took place and worked as a aide in the office.  I was one of the few kids in school who actually saw the lift off on television.

Even with having the dreaded, Miss McBride, for PE and health,  I had a pretty good school year.  I really liked my English teacher who was a dead ringer for the popular actress, Natalie Wood.  Good times, back in those olden days of high school.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BOYS, BOYS, BOYS

Like most teenage girls, I had my share of crushes on boys. The majority of the boys that I was sure was the one for me were in my ward.  I had little interest in the boys at school.  Unfortunately for me, very few of the boys that I had a crush on returned my adoration.  This was probably partly due to the fact that I didn't go to school with any of the boys and only saw them on Sunday and at youth activities.

Back in my olden days, girls didn't call boys on the phone.  It was totally inappropriate.  There wasn't texting or emails.  If you wanted a boy to notice you, you had to depend on the interaction that you had at church.  So most of the time, you shyly flirted, hoped that the boy would notice you and pined away for him...waiting.

There was Jay, the blue eyed blonde, that ended up with my friend, Norene.  Freddy was a fantastic dancer and I always looked forward to after Mutual dances.  Larry barely knew that I was alive.  I was successful in getting a date with Jimmy.  But that was only because I asked him to be my date for my ninth grade Prom.

I had a real bad crush on a boy named Jan who lived in another ward in our stake.  The only time I ever saw him was at stake activities, generally Cotillion.  Jan played the trombone in a dance band that often played for our Cotillion dances.  So there he was, in the band and I was stuck on the dance floor wishing that he didn't play the trombone.  I asked Jan to be my date for a school dance in the 10th grade.  But my heart was crushed when not long after that my stake was divided and since Jan lived in Maryland, he was in the other stake.  I never saw him again.

My first real boyfriend was a college boy, John.   His family had moved into our ward while he was away at school.  His sister was my good friend.  We dated for several months, broke up for awhile and then got back together just before he went on his mission and I left for BYU.  We agreed that I'd "wait" for him.  But, I ended up sending him a "Dear John" letter.  I'm pretty sure that I broke his heart.

I met Tommy, a non member, at All State Chorus competition.  He attended a neighboring high school.  Tommy had the role of Birdie in his school production of "Bye, Bye, Birdie". It was pretty heady stuff to sit in the audience and watch your boyfriend up on stage. Other girls in the audience were swooning over him.  But I was the one who was dating him.

There were probably other boys that I had crushes on.  But at my age, I'm doing well to remember these fews

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WHAT FLOOR, PLEASE?

Today when you get on an elevator, all you have to do is push the button for the floor you want and then stand there while the elevator whisks you to your destination.  When the elevator arrives at your floor, the doors automatically open and then close behind you.

Back in the olden days, when you used an elevator, there was an elevator operator, who wore a crisp uniform and sometimes a small hat, sitting inside on a stool.  The elevator operator had to open the door of the elevator and then, cheerily, greeted you and asked "What floor, please?  The operator closed the door behind the passengers, and selected the floor buttons.  Off you went - occasionally laboriously - to your floor.  Upon arrival, the operator opened the elevator doors so that you could exit.

 Today, you get on an express elevator with a bunch of people that you may or may not know.  Everyone stands there, facing forward, and rarely speak to each other.  With doors that close automatically, you also run the risk of being hit by the doors if you don't move quickly enough or are trying help small kids on and off....a kind of unfriendly experience.

I think it's kind of nice to have someone in an elevator to greet you and to make sure that everyone was on/off safely before closing the door.  Back in the olden days, if you took an elevator on a regular basis, you got to know the operator.  So elevator riding became a more personal experience.

Some times things from the olden days are a good thing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GOT THE MESSAGE

My father didn't do alot of heavy handed discipline when I was growing up.  I may have had a spanking or two, or perhaps a scolding once in awhile. (Yes, parents did spank naughty children back then.)  But I must have really pushed him to his limit when I was about 14 or 15.

I believe that I had been lobbying my mother to do something or go somewhere and she was saying no...even though, she rarely said no. So, what I wanted to do must have been beyond her comfort level.  The discussion must of gone on for awhile and I got a little mouthy.  My dad was in ear shot of all this and warned me that if I talked back to my mother like that again, I'd get my mouth washed out with soap.
I continued and made the mistake of talking back to my mother again.

My father immediately grabbed me and marched me to the bathroom.  With me resisting, he lathered up the green bar of Palmolive soap that was on bathroom sink. Even though I was by now greatly resisting, he managed to get the soap in my mouth and swish it around a few times.  He told me I had been warned.

I got the message.  I don't think I ever talked back to my mother again.  And...I have tried to avoid Palmolive soap in any form. I think that in the end I ended up getting my way...spoiled little girl that I was.

Monday, June 6, 2011

IN AGONY

Physical Education was a required class all through junior high.  I had it every day and never really liked it.  It was bad enough that students were required to change from their school clothes into those ridiculous blue rompers and shower in gang showers, but for people like me who are a little athletically challenge, the class was agony.

P.E. instruction included softball, basketball, field hockey, tumbling, track and field events, tennis and probably several more that I can't remember.  I'm not uncoordinated, mind you.  But spending 45 minutes or so a day trying to keep up on a basketball court where most of the girls towered over me, or making my short legs run fast than they were designed to do, or often being one of the last to be picked for a team didn't do much for my self esteem. And then there was Miss McBride, the P.E. teacher.

Miss McBride was a small woman with long blonde hair that she always pulled back in a pony tail.  I can still see her in her P.E. teacher's white uniform with her long, heavy, pony tail hanging down all most to her waist.  I had her for P.E. every day for three years.  She was unrelenting in her demands that her students would happily participate in every aspect of P.E.  She didn't tolerate a student who complained or tried to just get by.  Unfortunately, I was one of those students.

Miss McBride and I seemed to lock horns on more than one occasion through out junior high.  She must have been pretty exasperated with me by ninth grade when after a display on reluctance on my part, she chastied me with "I don't understand your attitude.  Your sister, Linda, would never act this way.". Ouch. I zinged back at her with "I'm sorry to disappoint you. But, I'm not my sister.".  That kind of stopped Miss McBride in her tracks.  But I was never really in her good graces.

In high school, P.E. was still a required class.  I was not happy about that, but felt like I'd have a better experience with another P.E. teacher.  When I got my 10th grade schedule the first day of high school, my P.E. teacher was listed as Miss McBride.  What??  How could this be??  Miss McBride had transferred to my high school. Had she transferred just to make my P.E. life miserable? I was in for at least another year of P.E. class agony.

Some how I made it through the school year of P.E. with Miss McBride.  It wasn't too bad.  But I never really had any enthusiasm for P.E.

Friday, June 3, 2011

TIME FOR AN UPDATE

The kitchen in the red brick house was basic and serviceable.  I would guess that it was about 10' by 10' - maybe a little bigger.  The only counter space was in an "L" shape with the sink under the window.  The cabinets were white wood with silver colored pulls. The counter top was a gray marbled formica trimmed with a metal trim...what would be called "retro" today.  We've probably all seen this formica on table tops from the 50s.

The refrigerator and stove were freestanding and against the wall on the left as you entered the kitchen from the living room.  The refrigerator was probably an upgrade from what had been in the previous home.  But frost free refrigerators were not the norm back then.  Frost would build up in the freezer section requiring defrosting of the freezer...a tedious task.  The stove was gas. Occasionally, a burner would go out.  Getting it started again required lighting a pilot light.  The oven ALWAYS had to have the pilot light lit before you could use it.  There was also enough room in the kitchen for a table and some chairs. 

After we had lived in the red brick house for awhile, my mother decided that she wanted to give the kitchen a little redo.  She didn't want to rip out the cabinets, replace the counter tops or get new appliances that would be involved in most updates in today's kitchen. Her update request was pretty basic.  She wanted to change the color of the paint.  And the color she wanted was pink.

I remember that there was great discussion about painting the kitchen pink.  My father absolutely didn't want a pink kitchen.  I'm not so sure why it matter that much to him because he didn't really spend any time in the kitchen.  He had to walk through it on his way to the basement or the back yard.  But he didn't spend any time in it preparing meals or cleaning up.  The kitchen was my mother's domain.

Eventually, my mother wore him down and she got her pink kitchen.  But I don't think that my father was very happy about having to put pink paint on the kitchen walls.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

6801

6801 29th Street North, Arlington, Virginia


This is the red brick house where I lived a good portion of my youth.  My parents moved into the house in 1950. We lived here until the summer of 1962 when my parents bought a bigger, better, more up to date home.

Looking at this picture, I can visualize just about every room as it was back then.  The front door opened directly into the living room. The large window on the left is the living room.  I'm pretty sure that the living room and dining room were painted a pale green. There may have originally been hardwood floors, but I only remember wall to wall carpeting.  Women of the 1950s were delighted to cover up hardwood floors with wall to wall carpeting.  Hardwood floors were a pain to keep up because they had to be waxed on a regular basis. There were venetian blinds and drapes to the windows.

The living room and dining room were connected in an "L" shape.  We ate all of our family meals in the dining room.  There was usually a tablecloth on the table that was big enough to seat 8 people.  I think the seating arrangement was girls on one side, boys on the other, Mother on the end closest to the kitchen and my Dad at the opposite end.

If you walked straight ahead from the front door, you crossed the living room and could either go directly into the kitchen or turn left and go down a short hall to the bedrooms and bathroom.  The smallest bedroom was the first room on the left.  I seem to remember that it was painted a light lavender.  As kids started to move out or to the basement, the lavender bedroom became my Mother's sewing room. The short bedroom hall opened up in a larger area.  The master bedroom was straight ahead, another bedroom was next to the master bedroom on the right. The only bathroom on the main floor was also off that hall.

Even though I occupied the bedroom on the right of the master, I don't remember what color it was....perhaps a pale pink?  But I certainly remember the bathroom.  It had the basics - sink, toilet and tub.  And really wasn't very big.  The bathroom was tiled in a salmon color tile with maroon accents.  The tile went halfway up the wall.  The tile on the floor was small tiles in salmon and maroon. Very typical of a 1950s bathroom.

The picture above was taken in the early spring of 1983.  My father in law and husband had meetings in Washington DC.  My mother in law and I went along.  I hadn't been back in Northern Virginia since 1969.  We had a rented car and I drove my mother in law all around Arlington and Falls Church to show her where I grew up.

Except for the landscaping, the house looks much like it did back in the fifties.  Some of the houses in the neighborhood had gable ends that were painted different colors.  Ours was always white along with the front door.  However, I think that the window trim was black.

I'm glad that I have this picture because the red brick house is no longer there.  Through a curiosity search on Google maps, I discovered that there was a big, brick two story home at the address of 6801 29th Street North.  The new house looks a little out of place because it is surrounded by the original, smaller ramblers.

It's kind of sad to learn that your childhood home is no more.  But I still have all the memories.  And, I still have a fondness for red brick houses.

Monday, May 30, 2011

BETTER SHE DOESN'T KNOW

While my mother didn't have a problem with me going on dates and riding in cars with a 15 year old driver before I was 16, she had a problem with me wearing make up and doing some other girlie things before I was 16.  I probably started wearing lipstick, occasionally, in the ninth grade.  But that was it.  At some point, I got a hold of some mascara (Linda, could it have been from you?) and started using that as well.  I never said anything to my mother about it.

One day, while riding with her in the car, I started applying mascara.  My mother wasn't too happy about it. I don't remember exactly what she said.  But it was probably something like "You're too young to be wearing that.".  However, she failed to tell me when I would be old enough to start wearing mascara.  It isn't that my mother didn't wear makeup.  She always did - rouge, face powder, lipstick, mascara - the works.  In fact, she never left the house without "her face on".  It could be that she didn't like the idea that her youngest daughter was growing up.

Then there was the time that my sister, Linda, took me aside and told me that it was probably time for me to start shaving my legs.  In a somewhat clandestine meeting in the basement bathroom, she introduced me to the science of leg shaving.  Using her Gillette razor, I soaped up my legs and went to work.  We probably shared a razor for quite a while because of Linda's advice to me..."Don't tell mother that you are shaving your legs.".
It was another one of those things that I knew my mother did, but for some reason it wasn't OK for me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

PROMISED VALLEY

In the summer of 1961, the Washington DC LDS Stake under took the production of the musical "Promised Valley".  The musical was originally written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the settling of the Salt Lake Valley.

Our production was complete with orchestra, dancers, chorus and actors..children to adults.  I  was a member of the chorus.  We had hours of rehearsals learning the music.  Then there were additional hours spent putting all the elements of the show together.  I had never been involved in a production the size that this one was and it was pretty exciting. We performed "Promised Valley" for two nights and offered the show to the public for free.  I'm pretty sure that the high school auditorium was packed both nights. 

Besides having a copy of the program of the show, I have a special memento. During either a dress rehearsal or an actual show, I tripped over a piece of scenery back stage.  A nail protruding from the scenery base cut my foot.  There was a lot of blood.  I still have the scar on the top of my right foot.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

KEEPING THE YOUTH OUT OF TROUBLE

Youth of the LDS church participate in many organized group activities.  Back in the olden days, there a several activities that I remember fairly well.  Unlike today when you have to be 14 or older to participate in most coed activities, anyone over the age of 12 could go.  The only thing that was age restricted was girls camp.  You had to be a MIA Maid to go to camp.  Go figure.

I remember a stake swimming party that was held at the Congressional Country Club.  Someone in the stake must have had connections to be able to reserve the entire facility for an evening so that a bunch of LDS kids could swim and party.

I also remember an activity where all of the youth stayed overnight at the ward.  I'm not sure if it was a ward or stake activity.  But I certainly remember sleeping on the floor in the gym....guys and girls were in the same room.   It must have been some kind of youth conference.

There was a trip by chartered bus to the Palmyra pageant.  It was at least a three day trip considering the travel time.  I also think that this was one of the few times when I went to the pageant that I didn't get rained on during the pageant.  We also went to the Sacred Grove, the Smith farmhouse and walked up the Hill Cumorah.

When I was in high school, we had a day outing at Andrews Air Force base.  Again, there must have been some connections by a stake member.  We toured the base and ended with a dinner and dance on the base.

We had a youth conference at Galludet College in Washington D.C.  It was an overnight activity where we stayed in the dorms on campus.  I remember swimming and, of course, the big dance the last night.

Our stake had a welfare farm back then.  We had one activity where all the youth from the stake went to the farm to pick feed corn.  We spent most of the day working our way up and down rows and rows of corn.  The corn was loaded into big dump trucks.  Many of us rode back from the fields sitting on top of the corn in the truck.  At the end of that activity, we went swimming in the small lake on the farm.  The lake was more like a large pond with a very, very muddy bottom.  I'm not sure how we all got cleaned up enough to get back in cars to go home.

At Girls Camp, we stayed in log cabins with cots that had mattresses. All we had to do was roll out a sleeping bag.  The camp had a central lodge for group meetings.  A central kitchen with a dining hall.  There were also bathrooms with hot and cold water. There was also a lake on the site. As a child and teenager, Girls Camp was my only exposure to camping.  It wasn't very rough.  It was my only camping experience until at twenty five years later when my husband took our family camping.

Then there were the Roadshows.  Every year, the youth and their leaders were given a general theme for the show.  In each ward, a 10 to 15 minute skit was developed including some original music.  We made our own scenery and costumes and practiced, practiced, practiced.  Back then the Roadshows traveled between ward buildings.  You had a certain amount of time to get on stage, set up your scenery, perform your skit and get back off stage.  Awards were given for various categories.  I think that there was an over all honors award too.  It was pretty competitive.

One year the theme of our ward's Roadshow was "Why is the Mona Lisa smiling?".  I had the role of Mona Lisa.  Most of the action went around me while I posed behind a picture frame as Mona Lisa.  I had the final song of the show.  It was short, but answered the question why the Mona Lisa was smiling.  Here are the words,  "Now my feet can be much chipper since I have these fluffy pink slippers.".  At that point, I showed my feet wearing fluffy pink slippers.  Cheesy, I know.  But that's what roadshows were - definitely cheesy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WE'VE COME A LONG WAY

Notice:  If you are a guy and reading this blog, you may want to skip this post.  It's about female stuff.

Back in the olden days, there were certain things that weren't generally discussed.  The most prevalent "hush, hush" topic was anything to do with "the birds and the bees".  There were no Maturation classes in the fifth grade that students were required attend.  Kids were left to figure it out on their own if the information didn't come from home. I'm sure that some of my friends must have had that conversation with their parents, or at least, their mother.  But at our house, I never had "the talk".

I remember a day when I was a young teenager that my mother came home from grocery shopping and handed me a package of Kotex sanitary pads and a sanitary napkin belt.  All she said when she gave them to me was "You're going to need these some day soon.".  That was it. With that, she just left the room.
Thank goodness for older sisters and friends who had already reached this milestone in their lives or I probably wouldn't have had any idea what these items were for.  As it was, I really wasn't sure HOW they were supposed to be used.  I'm pretty sure that when the time happened, I asked my sister, Linda, for help.  I don't think I ever had a conversation with my mother about all this except to tell her when I needed more.  Linda probably got her information from our oldest sister.  Unless, Mother had "the talk" with Karen, Karen probably had to go some where else to figure it all out.  It's amazing.

As I became more aware of the need for sanitary napkins and, like most girls, really didn't like the time of the month when they had to be used.  I knew that my mother used tampons.  I asked her if I could use them.  I got a resounding "No" from her.  I think that her refusal to buy them for me had something to do with the notion that I would not be a virgin if I used tampons.  It was many years, probably when I was in college, before I made the switch.

When the time came that I finally needed a bra, my mother bought me what was called a training bra. (What I want to know is what were those training bras suppose to be training, anyway?) She never said much about that either.  She may have even just guessed what size I'd need, bought it and gave it to me.  As I needed more than the training bra, I had them.  But I don't remember going shopping with her for them.  Did she give the money to my older sisters and we went together?  I have no idea.

It was a different age back then.  You didn't see advertisements on television for bras or women's personal care items.  There were probably ads in print for these things, but they certainly weren't filling up the pages of women's magazines like they do today.   But advertising and the public had no problem with ads for cigarettes in print and on television.  It really made no sense.

We've come a long way, baby.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SHOOTING OFF ROCKETS

In the spring of my ninth grade year, I went on an overnight outing that included the Explorer post in our ward.  The Explorers were participating in an event with other Explorer posts in the state in which they designed homemade rockets.  It was a competition of sorts to determine which post had the most effective rocket. The event was held at an Army camp, Camp A. P Hill, that was somewhere in south eastern Virginia. I don't remember why girls from the ward were included in the trip.

We stayed in barracks that I described in my personal history as being a mess.  "They looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years.". I remember that it was hot and muggy. But apparently, I still had a lot of fun.  While waiting for and watching the rocket launches, we stood in a log bunker that provided some protection should there be an errant rocket or two. The only bad thing about the trip was that our post's rocket didn't work.

I may have been excited to go on this adventure because I had a real bad crush on Jimmy, my ninth grade prom date. I knew he would be going and it was an opportunity to hang out with him.

Here's that rocket shoot group.  
 Most of the girls in the picture were in the ninth grade. The boys were in the ninth grade and high school. I'm the second girl from the right side.  Norene is standing to my left.  And, the dark haired, handsome young man behind me is Jimmy.  Wow, I had forgotten how good looking he was.

Some interesting things about this group - the boy directly behind Norene is Kenlee.  He and his younger brother were killed in an automobile accident less than a year later.  They were on their way to Priesthood meeting.  Norene married Monte, the first boy on the left.  The marriage ended divorce after only a few years.  I have no idea what happened to the rest of these kids.  Did the dorky looking guys ever out grow their dorkiness?  Did all of the girls end up married and happy? And who is the girl standing directly behind the girl on the left side?  I know it's a girl because you can see the hem of her skirt behind the girl in front of her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

SAD AND DEPRESSING?

In a personal history that I came across recently, I wrote "Ninth grade was the one that I enjoyed the least."  "The whole year was depressing."  I'm not quite sure why I wrote this because these comments are followed by a recap of some of the fun things that I did during that school year.  The only clue given about my depressing ninth grade year was this "I didn't have as much fun as other years.  I guess I was expecting to much that I didn't get.". I have no recall what those expectations were.
This is what that sad and depressed ninth grader looked like.

She also looked like this.
  I wrote that I had good teachers and that my favorite was Mr. Wood, my geography teacher.  I apparently almost hated my English teacher because was we "just didn't get along".  I was happy that I was made a Musette that year. But it seems as though the highlight of the year was the ninth grade prom.  I must have been on the decorating committee for the dance because in this history I wrote "I helped to make a mural for it.  I was sorta of proud of my first effort of drawing Venus.".  I wonder what the theme of the dance was if it required a mural that included Venus.

I went to the Prom with Jimmy, a boy from the ward.  We double dated with my best friend, Norene, who also went with a boy from the ward.  Jimmy must have been at least 15 because he had a driver's license and access to a car. Back in those olden dates, you could get your driver's license at 15. My date to the prom was the first date I had where a parent didn't have to do the driving.  I remember Jimmy picked me up in either an Oldsmobile or Buick that was painted two-tone blue and white.  It also had huge fins. I felt pretty grown up. 

Now it may seem shocking that at fourteen and a half, I was allowed to date and go on the date in a car.  Back in those olden days, the church didn't have the hard fast rule that teenagers shouldn't go on a date of any kind until they were sixteen.  I never dated anyone steadily at that tender age.  But Jimmy wasn't my first date as I went to a ward Gold and Green ball with a young man in ward the previous winter. 

I finished up the ninth grade with promotion exercises held in the school gym.  Quoting from my personal history "It was all very formal and saddening.".  "Next step, senior high, YORKTOWN HERE WE COME!!".

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SING ALONG WITH ME

I grew up in a family of singers. My parents always sang in ward choirs.  My older brothers and sisters participated in school choruses and Madrigals.  In fact, since my father wasn't much for athletic activities, chorus and Madrigals was about all the was acceptable.

When I started junior high, I took girls chorus.  I wasn't too fond of the teacher, but I loved chorus.  We sang a variety of music and I learned a lot about choral singing.  In the ninth grade, I was a member of an audition only group called the Musettes.  We practiced outside of regular class time and performed for various events in the community.

I continued with school choruses until I graduated.  By the time I was a senior, I was singing with the A Capella choir and was a member of the Madrigals.  Many of my best memories of my teenage years are from chorus.   It was also good training for my adult years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

SPEEDY

Back in the early 1960s, a woman named Evelyn Wood developed a speed reading course called The Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course.  Wood's method involved using a pointer, such as a finger, pencil or pen, to move along a line of text or page patterns.  The pacing of your hand improved reading efficiency.

My ninth grade English teacher must have taken a Reading Dynamics course because she introduced it to us.  I remember spending time for weeks in English class practicing speed reading.  We'd read to ourselves using the method while being timed.  Then we were also tested on what we comprehended.  My ninth grade English teacher was rather intimidating as she would walk around the classroom supervising our speed reading.  Sometimes, I felt like she was going to whip out a ruler and rap my knuckles if I didn't have my pointer in the position and moving it along fast enough.

I must have learned something from this method because I read fairly quickly.  When reading just for facts, it's great to be able to read entire sentences and, sometimes, paragraphs, all at once and still get the facts.  When reading for pleasure, it is sometimes difficult to slow down to relish what's been written.   It's a blessing and a curse.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

SCHOOL DAYS PICTURES

In a previous post, I wrote about being vertically challenged.  This series of school class pictures prove it.  I won't be too hard to find if you look for the shortest girl - even if she's kneeling.  These pictures are also a photo history of kid's clothing back in the olden days.  And if you study the pictures, you'll find many of the same kids in my class - year after year.  You'll also notice that this is an extremely white group of children.  There were only Caucasian kids in my school until I was in the 8th grade. It wasn't until the 11th grade that there was an African American student in some of my classes and she was the only one in the entire student body.

Second Grade - 1953
Third Grade - 1954


Fourth Grade - 1955
Fifth Grade - 1956
Eighth Grade - 1960
 Did you find the shrimp in all these pictures?  In the 2nd grade picture, I'm on the back row at the right end.  In the 3rd grade, you'll find me kneeling in the middle row between a boy and a girl.  Look for me in the 4th grade picture on the back row at the right end.   In the 5th grade picture, I'm the one kneeling on the middle row wearing a dress with a white collar.  In the 8th grade picture, once again, I'm on the back row on the right end.

I wonder where all these kids are now.

LET'S PARTY

Every once in awhile when I was a young teenager, my friends and I would organize a party.  It didn't take much to put one together. All we needed was a basement, plenty of snacks, a record player, records, boys and a parent to agree to have the party at their home.

Since the majority of my social life centered around church friends, the party guests were boys and girls from my ward.  My friends and I were always hopeful that the latest boy that we had a crush on would be able to come.  There wasn't much pairing off.  But occasionally, a boy and girl who liked each other would make out when the lights were dimmed.

Most of the time was spent listening to records, talking and dancing.  The parents were always at home and would make the obligatory visit downstairs to check on things.  It was usually done under the guise of seeing if we needed any more food. 

For the most part, it was just good, wholesome fun with the kids from church.

Friday, May 13, 2011

NEVER HAPPEN TODAY

I did  a lot of things growing up in the olden days that would never happen today.

There weren't seat belts in cars back then.  So I rode around unrestrained in either the front or back seat.  Sometimes on long trips, I would even lay down in the space just below the the rear window behind the back seat.  I often rode standing up in the front seat between my parents.  Most mothers back then had an automatic reflex of throwing their right arm across the child in the front seat if they had to braked suddenly. 

If you happened to have one, the child's car seat would have been a fabric seat attached to two metal hooks that fit over the front seat back.  The car seat usually had a small plastic steering wheel attached to the front.  It really didn't do much to restrain a child. Mothers held babies and children on their laps...in the front seat!

As a child, I routinely ate raw cake batter and cookie dough.  No one ever said anything about raw eggs being bad for you.  There were no warnings on cake mix boxes about not eating uncooked cake batter.  In fact, there were no warnings on any packaged or canned food that something in it might be harmful to your health.

If you bought a soft drink, it was usually in a bottle.  The empty bottle was supposed to be returned to where it was purchased.  If you did, you'd get a bottle deposit back of a few pennies.

And, of course, there were the many hours I spent unsupervised in the neighborhood.  I walked all over and a lot of the time, my mother didn't know where I was.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BANDSTAND

Back in my olden days as a teenager, just about every teenager became familiar with the latest singers and groups by listening to the radio or watching them perform on American Bandstand.  American Bandstand started locally in Philadelphia and premiered, nationally, in 1957.  Dick Clark was the host and, along with a group of teenage regulars, he showcased the Top 40 records.  Bandstand came on every afternoon.  Regular watchers of The Mickey Mouse Club tuned in Bandstand when they out grew Mickey Mouse.

It was through Bandstand that I got to see Bobby Darrin, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Connie Francis and many others perform their hit songs. If you wanted your own copy of a current hit song, you purchased a 45 rpm record.  The hit song would be on one side of the record with a second song on the flip side.  I also had a few posters of Fabian and Frankie Avalon in my room.

Bandstand was also where teenagers could keep up to date on the latest dance trends.  I still remember watching Chubby Checker on American Bandstand when he sang his hit song "The Twist"...

"Come On Baby, let's do the Twist.  Come on Baby, let's do the Twist.  Take me by my little hand and go like this." 

My friends and I would get up and dance along, too.  It was through Bandstand that I learned to do the "Mash Potatoes" .  You can be sure that these new kinds of dances weren't being taught at Mutual.  The new dance trends were rather frowned upon by the adults.  They didn't like the movements and certainly didn't like the music.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

COTILLION

To ensure that the almost weekly dance instruction after Mutual didn't go to waste, every month my stake sponsored Cotillion.  Cotillion was the place where we danced the night away while learning proper social etiquette. Boys were expected to ask girls to dance.  I don't think that there was much standing around on the sidelines.  Often, more dance instruction would be given at the beginning of the evening.  Then we would either dance to records or a live dance band.

Our stake covered Washington DC and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. It was through Cotillion that I got to know some of the kids in the Maryland and DC wards.  More than once, I had a crush on a boy in a Maryland ward.  Cotillion was about the only place that I would have any contact with the boy. Even though Cotillion was a semi-formal event a couple of times a year, dates were not required.  We used to go in groups with usually a parent driving. 

Cotillion was a big part of my social life as a teenager.  I went to Cotillion, almost without fail, from the time I was in junior high until I graduated from high school.  These kind of dances, along with the annual Gold and Green Ball, have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur today.  I think that it's kind of sad that an entire generation has missed out of the non-threatening, wholesome fun environment of church dances.

Monday, May 9, 2011

*FAMILY PICTURES

 
Back in the olden days, photographers would come to your home to take family pictures. Isn't this a lovely American Gothic photo? Since my younger brother, Alan, is missing, this picture was probably taken sometime between 1950 and 1951.  My father is at the back. My brother, David, is the one with ivy growing out of his ear.  My sister, Linda, is on the left and the only one with a smile.  Next to her is my oldest brother, John.  I'm the pouty girl sitting on my mother's lap. I think that I was afraid of the photographer, or just being contrary.  My oldest sister, Karen, is on the right.

This picture was taken before we moved to the red brick house. I'm most likely about three. My mother made the dresses that my sisters and I are wearing. Karen and Linda's dresses were made from pastel taffeta. Mine was a green and white checked dress trimmed with white rick rack. I'm not quite sure why we weren't all matchy, matchy in our attire. We are also sporting the hair dos achieved by using pin curls and bobbie pins.

 This picture was taken at the same time as the picture above.  From left to right are my father, David, Linda, my mother, me on my mother's lap, Karen and John.

This was taken when my oldest sister got married in September of 1959.  Prior to having this family picture taken, I had been outside playing with neighborhood kids.  I guess that my mother had failed to let me know that a photographer was coming to take pictures because I was kind of sweaty and my hair was dirty - thus the slicked back pony tail. I remember that I was called inside and told to hurry up and get changed for the picture.

On the back row, left to right, are John, Linda, David, Me and my sister's new husband, Niels.  On the front row, left to right, are Bobbie Lu, John's wife, who is holding their oldest child, Roy.  Next to her is my grandmother, Isabelle (my Dad's mother).  She had come from Utah to live with us for a while.  She was 81 in this picture.  Next is my Father, then my Mother, Karen and my brother, Alan.

When the proof for this picture came back, my mother was shocked that her skirt and Karen's skirt didn't cover their knees.  The photographer lengthened their skirts somehow....early photoshopping!

I see details in these pictures that kind of bug me.  In the first picture, the photographer should have noticed the ivy growing out of my brother's ear. Everyone should have been more right so that the we were centered against the mantle.  The window blinds on one side are open, while the other side are closed.

In the second picture, we all look pretty good with sweet smiles.  But it bugs me that Linda's socks are pulled up and kind of slouchy, while Karen's are folded down.

The only thing that is a little curious in the third picture is that you can see someone's arm on the stair railing in back.  I have no idea who it is.  I don't think this picture was taken at our home so perhaps it is a member of the family where the picture was taken.  I love it that both of my brothers are in full Boy Scout uniform.

In the fourth picture, the top of John's head is cut off.  The photographer should have raised the camera a little to show less leg and it would have solved the head cut off problem.  Again, one blind is open and the other shut. My brother in law has a candle growing out of his shoulder, while David has some kind of tail looking thing coming out of his shoulder. Alan looks like he's some kid that wandered in off the street and stood at the edge of the photo. At least every one is more or less smiling; well, except for my grandmother who was never very happy about being in Virginia, and...the newlyweds.

And as for me in the last picture, my mother must have been extremely distracted to not give me enough warning to properly get cleaned up for the picture.  She was always one who was keen on looking clean and respectable.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

BLOCKBUSTER

There was a particularly memorable field trip when I was in junior high.  The movie "Ben Hur" was the much hyped, blockbuster in the early 1960s.  I saw it with my entire school grade (maybe 8th grade?) as a field trip.

I remember the excitement in anticipation of going to a big theater in Washington DC to see a REALLY big movie.   It was such a big deal that the girls were required to wear Sunday best and the boys had to wear jackets and ties.  We were gone from school for most of the day including a lunch somewhere in town.

I don't really remember if we went because the setting of the movie was relevant to a history class or if we went because it was such a hyped movie.  What I find interesting is that hundreds of students were taken on a school sponsored trip to see a movie that had definite religious over tones. In today's world of political correctness, such a field trip would never happen.  If it did, there would have to be parental permission to view the movie and if the parent didn't approve an opt out option would have to be provided.

Back in my olden days, the only thing required from a parent was the standard, generic field trip permission slip and money for lunch.  I think that the cost of seeing "Ben Hur" was paid for by the school.

It was a fun and exciting day.  I still love the movie "Ben Hur".

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

*SEEN IT ALL

Growing up in suburban Washington DC was great.  Even though I usually only went sight seeing in Washington when relatives came to town - which was a rare occasion - I've still seen most of the major tourist sites in and around the city.  Because of the proximity to DC, there were many school field trip into town.

I've been inside the Capitol, climbed all the steps up the Washington Monument, seen the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution in the Library of Congress.

I've been to both the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Mount Vernon, Lee Mansion and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.

My sisters and me in a picture that I think was taken at the Iwo Jima statue. Memorial Bridge and the Jefferson Memorial can barely be seen in the background just to right of the large tree.





I can't forget the hours spent in the Smithsonian Museum and the National Gallery of Art, either.  

There were family trips to Old Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown and Monticello.

I remember the feelings of awe and wonder as I toured these historic places. It really was a privilege to grow up where I did.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER

There are certain events in history that have such a great impact that people will always remember where they were and what they were doing when it happened.  In my lifetime, there are three or four such days.

When John Glenn first took his first flight in space, I was in the 10th grade.  His son, David Glenn, attended my high school.  As his father went into orbit, the radio commentary was piped through out the entire school.  I listened to the broadcast in the school office where I had a class period as an office aide.  There was a collective cheer through out the entire school when Glenn's space mission ended successfully.  After all, he was OUR astronaut.

When John Kennedy was shot, I was a senior in high school.  I was an officer in the Future Business Leader's of America club.  Our big event for the year was sponsoring the Miss JEB Stuart contest.  During my last period class, English, I had been allowed to go to the stage to do some decorating for the event which was to be held that evening.  The announcement about the President being shot in Dallas came over the loud speaker.  I immediately returned to my English class and listened to the rest of the events that transpired. School was released early and all school events for the next few days were canceled.

When the first lunar landing took place, I was living in a duplex north University Avenue in Provo, Utah.  I had only been married a couple of years.  We had another couple over just to watch the landing with us. But I was also talking on the phone with a girlfriend who had just gotten engaged. I'm pretty sure that I had to make her wait for a minute or two when Neil Armstrong left the lunar module to step on the moon.  

On September 11, 2001, I was living in Salt Lake.  That morning, I had a Church Building Hosting Board Meeting on the 2nd floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  The events on the east coast were just unfolding as I was getting ready to leave for my meeting.  By the the time the meeting started at 9 AM, all the attacks had transpired in New York, and Washington.  Members of the Hosting Board gathered in a Public Affairs conference room where there was television feed.  Our meeting was forgotten. I watched the towers fall with a large group of people from Public Affairs and the Hosting Board.

Last night when news came of bin Laden's death, I was in my son's living room in Denver watching something mindless on television.  My son was upstairs studying for an exam, the grandkids were in bed, and my DIL was upstairs with my son.  She came running downstairs and told me that Osama bin Laden was dead. We watched the news together.

NOT A CULTURAL HALL

 Back in my olden days, LDS Church buildings didn't have cultural halls.  They all had gyms, complete with basketball hoops and, of course, there was a stage.  I have a lot of memories connected with the gym in the Arlington Ward Chapel.

On the stage of the gym, I performed in ward talent shows with my family. At one show, we sang one of my father's silly songs "Mormon Sunday School".  Each member of the family sang a verse.  Mine was one about David and Goliath.  In another show, I sang the song "Sisters" with my own sister, Linda.  I was also in the annual Mutual Roadshows.  I even had a Sunday School class that met on that stage.

The gym was also the setting every year for the Relief Society Bazaar.  For the bazaar, the women of the ward would spend weeks sewing, crocheting, knitting, baking, or making candy....all to be sold at the bazaar.  This was back in the days  before the standardized ward budget.  Wards had to raise their own money for activities.  It was a fun night for the entire family.

The gym would be transformed for the annual Gold and Green ball and New Year's Eve dance.  Streamers would be hung across the ceiling and there was often a mirrored Disco ball suspended from the ceiling.  The stage would be the place where a live orchestra would set up.  Also, back then any one twelve or over could attend the dance.  Older teenagers sometimes had dates. But whether you had a date wasn't important.  I still usually got a new dress and always looked forward to both dances. It was at the Gold and Green balls and New Year's Eve dances that I had my ballroom dancing skills refined by dancing with my father.

For mutual, we had our regular dance instruction in the gym, including square dancing.  In the summer, there was usually at least one square dance with a professional caller with the dancing being held in the church parking lot that was accessed directly from the gym.

And like most cultural halls, the ward gym saw plenty of men's basketball games and lots of kids who used the room for running off excess energy.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

COLONIAL BEAUTY

Drive through any predominant LDS neighborhood in Utah and you'll see ward house after ward house that are almost exactly alike.  The exterior finishes may vary, but the over all architecture and floor plan are all the same.
Not so with the chapel that I attended for most of my growing up years.

The Arlington Ward building on Inglewood Street was a beautiful building.  I believe it was built in the late 1940s.  The all red brick building  on a slight hill at the corner Inglewood and 16th street.  The entrance to the building was up several broad steps.  At the top of the steps there was a covered area that was supported by large white columns.  When you entered the building, there was a lobby with a set of stairs going up to the foyer into the chapel and another set of steps that went down to the classrooms.

The chapel itself was a traditional style.  In it's early days, it was the walls were painted white.  But in the 1960's, redecorating was done and the walls were painted yellow with a brown accent wall behind the choir seats.  I remember that there was some grumbling by some ward members about the color choice.  Since J. Willard Marriott, Sr. was our stake president at the time, some said the chapel looked like a Hot Shoppe (a restaurant owned by the Marriott.)

Off the chapel foyer, there was a hall that went past a coat room and into the Relief Society room.  Off that hall was also a stairway that went up to a mezzanine that overlooked the gym.  There were several classrooms on the mezzanine.  The opening on the mezzanine that overlooked the gym was covered with heavy metal wire that resembled chicken coop wire. When decorating for ward dances, the wire often had napkins or squares of tissue paper stuffed in the openings.

The Junior Sunday School room (would currently be the Primary room), was on the lower floor under the chapel.  The room was accessed from a downstairs hall.  But there was also a small staircase at the front of the room that went up to chapel podium area.  I think that the stair was there so make it easier for the Sacrament to be served to the children since the Sacrament prep area was upstairs by the podium.  Children weren't suppose to run up and down the stairs....but we did....many times.

The Arlington Ward chapel was a beautiful building.  It's still standing and in use today.  A few years ago on a trip back east, my sister and I took time to go see the building.  Lucky for us, an activity was just wrapping up and the building was open.  Much of the building was as I remembered.  But the chicken wire was gone and the mezzanine had been enclosed.  A double door entry had been added to exterior gym entrance.  There had been a few other structural changes as well.  But it is still a beautiful building.


Friday, April 29, 2011

IT'S MUTUAL

Going into the seventh grade also meant that I started Mutual.  Back then, Young Womens classes weren't held on Sunday.  We met on a week night for lessons and activities.  I always liked going to Mutual because it was another time during the week when I could see my church friends - girls and boys alike.

One of the best parts of Mutual was the nights when we had dance instruction and/or casual dances.  It happened on a regular basis.  In every ward, there was always an adult or two who were proficient enough in ballroom dancing that they could give instruction to a cultural hall full of teenagers. Oh, and back then, there was no such thing as a cultural hall.  It was called the gym.

I remember instruction in the jitter bug, fox trot, waltz and cha cha.  I probably had my favorite partners since some boys were a little more skilled than others.  After our instruction, time would be allowed to dance to 45's.  It was also a time when I hoped that the current boy that I had a crush on would ask me to dance.