Back in “The Day” – my teenage years – I covered my bedroom wall with posters. Of all shapes and sizes. Random subject matter. Raggedy Ann & Andy. Laurel & Hardy. Don Quixote plodding along under an orange moon. Psychedelic quotes. “LifeIsAGas” swirled in green and pink was one. “WarIsNotHealthyForChildren…” was another.
However, one poster was just a simple black square…with a green peace sign filling the space. No text.
A small symbol of protest.
Along with peace necklaces. Buttons. Pins. Rings. Denim patches. To end the war we saw raging on the evening news. A war which continued until I was in college…and heard shouts down the hall of my dormitory one night…The War Is Over!! The War Is Over!!
In our youth and naïveté, perhaps my friends and I somehow believed these small symbols made a difference.
Several years ago, I noticed this pin for sale at a local novelty store. The kind of place that sells off color bumper stickers, fart joke books and notepads with the F word in their titles.
Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge. The prompt: Twisted
All it takes is a simple twist. Or two. Or three. Of wire, silk and nylon.
Six strings stretched tight. But not too tight. The ends threaded into post holes. Then twisted…little by little…with the turn of a peg. Carefully. Adjusting the tension.
Until each one – when plucked – sounds…just right.
On a simple guitar made of wood.
My first – and only – no-name guitar shows its age. As do I.
Bought with saved up allowance for $28 on September 29, 1967.
I headed to guitar lessons taught by a local folk singer. For weekly group lessons with other aspiring young guitarists…struggling together to strum chords…
G and D7…to play through Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.
C, F, Am and G7…for Blowin’ in the Wind.
Added Em and B7…and we managed to make it through Cruel War.
By that point the fingertips on my left hand were sore and complaining. From pressing down on those strings…especially strings 4, 5 & 6…the thickest ones.
Those twisted strings were replaced many times. As I sang and played through a thick looseleaf binder of mimeographed folk songs assigned by my teacher. To which I added my carefully typed copies of Homeward Bound, Hey Jude, It Was a Very Good Year, Leaving on a Jet Plane…among many others. Guitar chords written or typed in red above the words.
I did not sing or strum with much finesse, but it was the 60’s after all – and it was fun.
It never occurred to me to take it more seriously. I never saw any female guitarists on Ed Sullivan or American Bandstand, heard any on AM radio or in my stack of 45s.
This guitar went to camps and college with me. It was then retired to a closet…until my son tried it out after his college days. It traveled up and down the east coast with him for a few years…until he had a guitar of his own. Like his dad…and his sister.
I rarely hear the term pupil anymore. At least as it applies to schoolchildren.
However, back in the olden days – the 1960s – I was a pupil. One of many pupils in my 5th grade class. A large class by today’s standards…after all we were the babyboomers. Schools would be scrambling to accommodate us for years to come.
Bizarre at it sounds, I still recognize those classmates – and can name almost all of them. Perhaps not always for the best reasons.
Fifth grade – when I turned 11 – remains sharp in my memory. There is Andy, twin brother of Ellen, who I had a mad crush on. Probably because he complimented me on my kickball skills at recess. Debby…whose house I visited to play games and sleep over. Patti Ann, Judy and Dianne…the mean girl trio who took turns making my life miserable. Except when they didn’t and I thought we were friends. Kathy…the girl who was taller than me…a rare occurrence. Johnny…whose science experiment once blew up. Meredith…bullied because she was overweight. Eric…the boy who I think had a crush on me…although I was as clueless as they came. So who knows.
The only dress code of sorts applied to girls. We had to wear dresses or skirts. Except on once-a-week gym days. My favorite day of the week…pants!…sneakers!
Boys could wear whatever they wanted. Neckties only came out on school picture day.
In addition to Math, Science, Reading, etc., we were also graded on Penmanship, Behavior and Effort. Girls had gym and health class separate from the boys. Often a pupil…like me…stood in front of her class and gave the Spelling tests. And missed Social Studies to correct them for the teacher.
I wonder what happened to those kids. Now in their 60’s. The mean girls do not look as mean as I remember. I see no angry faces…or narrowed eyes…or…evidence of what happened. I also look happier than I was. It’s an odd perspective.
My family moved to another town when I started sixth grade.
Irene Waters’ “Times Past” prompt challenge topic for February is: Tales of Terror
Can you remember any tales of fear that your parents used to stop you going out of bounds. Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and your generation.
As a baby boomer growing up in the USA suburbs, I basically roamed the tree lined streets of my working class neighborhood. On foot. On my bike. On my skateboard. On roller skates. I specifically remember the house I lived in from the age of 4 to 11. There were woods to explore at one end of the street before it curved uphill to circle around to the next block. Houses lined up close together and near to the street.
My mother issued two clear directives to keep me safe:
Don’t take candy from strangers.
This was in the context of a stranger driving around the block, who might stop, open the door and try to lure me into his car with a Nestle’s Crunch. I would then never be seen again. And terrible things would happen…which were never spelled out in any detail, but an implied tale of terror just the same.
I will admit I considered possibly grabbing the candy and making a run for it. However the opportunity never presented itself.
Being the immortal child that I was, I was unafraid to ride my bike for hours at a time…for long distances that perhaps would have been prohibited if I had advertised my adventures. Which I didn’t.
A favorite trip: to “the little store” on the other side of town…saved my allowance and bought my own candy. Smarties, Mary Janes, Mounds, tiny wax bottles (remember those? argh), button candy, Bazooka Bubble Gum. No strangers needed. Sometimes I let my younger sister tag along, swearing her to secrecy.
Interesting side note: when we first moved there, my sister was 3 years old. One day she packed a lunchbox with napkins, hopped on her tricycle and took off…without telling anyone. Her destination: where we used to live…a long car ride away. A dozen houses later – almost a quarter mile – she arrived at the far end of our road, about to pedal down the cross street. A dangerous intersection at the crest of a hill. The neighbor on the corner stopped her in time and called the police.
So my sister got a ride in a police car…which is where she was eventually spotted by my frantic mother. Who had grabbed me and my infant brother and probably went looking for strangers with candy. An actual tale of terror thankfully averted.
Don’t go near Tony M.
Tony was a mentally challenged teenager who lived a couple of blocks away. At least I think he was a teenager…to my young eyes he could have been in his twenties. He lived with his parents and sometimes wandered around looking somewhat disheveled. It was never explained to me what he might do. Or say. But the look in my mother’s eyes spoke fear. My questions about why went unanswered. I rarely saw him, but when I did he mostly looked lonely and sad. I wonder what happened to him.
Orange and pink together?
It was back in the 1960’s…amidst the blinding landscape often referred to as psychedelic. The term coined to describe what was visualized during an LSD “acid trip.”
No acid trips for me, but as a young teenager I was drawn to the colors shouting out from Teen magazine and the “mod” outfits popping up from television’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. Or album covers…The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, among others. Wild “peace and love” posters covered my bedroom walls. And the jewelry…
One artifact from that time period: a “Mod Watch” complete with 4 interchangeable bright colored wristbands. Made of authentic patent leather. A vintage set now over 50 years old. Well worn. Well loved.
It was one of my favorite “accessories”… being the practical person I have always been, it also served a very useful purpose. I always knew what time it was.
Practicality always topped fashion. But with this watch, I had both.
…I saw a note that Gail wrote
& it says she hates me… I don’t know if you’re mad at Gail but I am…
When did I first run headlong into notes?
At that awkward will-I-fit-in-say-the-right-thing-avoid-exclusion-at-all-cost stage that characterized my middle school years in the 1960’s.
When successfully passing notes was a prized achievement. A right of passage. If you didn’t get caught.
Notes directed the intense undercurrent of a girl’s ever shifting social hierarchy. They could make or break your day at school.
Scrawled on lined notebook paper. Ripped out of 3-ring binders. Torn into halves. Or quarters. Hastily folded as small as possible. Then..slipped to a friend. Or potential friend. Or some kid sitting at a desk on the way to the note’s intended recipient.
With one eye on the teacher, who with chalk in hand might not turn towards the blackboard as quickly as you think. Who might snatch the wrinkled piece of paper. Which held the potential key to your social future. And then, horror of horrors, read it out loud. So everyone would hear…
Are you mad at me? Write down yes or no. Check next to these names…
Do you like them or not?
Or worse, if the note was for you…
From the girlfriends you just had a sleepover with…
We have decided that you are not our type. Please don’t hang around with us that much. You can if you want….Every time we look at you you are reading. I know you like to but not every second. Don’t hang around that much anymore.
Elaborate codes were devised.
I’ve always wondered…why? Why did girls jostle for position in such cut throat ways? Which is probably why I saved a few notes for 50 years. Thinking I’d figure it out. I have not. I still have no clue.
Except I am grateful there was no Facebook when I was struggling to fit in. No Instagram. No social media.
Notes would have followed me everywhere.
Day and night.
I can’t imagine.
Notes on wrinkled paper were thrown away. Or stuffed in a drawer.
Only public for an agonizing minute if the teacher recited them in front of snickering classmates.
Then the bell would ring.
And out the door I’d go.
Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Roast Beef
New Year’s Day = Bologna Pie….say what?
When I was a kid, my parents often hosted an Open House on New Year’s Day. Neighbors and friends streamed in and out all day long. Eating, drinking, laughing, talking, smoking.
Lots of drinking. Eggnog (2 pitchers: labeled “with” and “without”). Punch with fancy shaped ice floating in the center.
Conversations morphing into a dull roar.
Alongside music from my dad’s hi-fi.
My younger sister and I helped prepare the party food the day before…
…and that’s where the bologna pie comes in.
It was (and still is?) slices of bologna with cream cheese spread between each slice.
The higher the stack, the better. Cut into pie shaped wedges – hence the pie label. And there it was.
We always sampled the greasy concoction as we made the pies…and I hate to admit we really liked it.
How times change.
Loaves of miniature rye bread were transformed into chicken or tuna salad mini sandwiches. Sometimes toasted french bread topped with canned crab & cheese dip was on the menu.
One memorable January 1st Open House was worth an entire diary entry:
I have no photographs of these Open Houses.
Which is probably just as well.