Thursday, January 28, 2016

54. Dances and Proms



In our last post to Growing Up in Gettysburg in the Forties, we featured the Teen Canteen which was located in a former bank building on Baltimore Street. Unfortunately, the roof must have leaked and the water warped the wooden dance floor, but that didn't stop us from dancing to the popular music of the day.

We recently Googled the top twenty songs from 1945 and 1946, and we have danced to almost everyone, including ageless songs by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Harry James.

In addition to dancing at the Teen Canteen, the Student Council, Girls’ Athletic Association and Girl Scouts often sponsored dances after home football and basketball games. Annual proms provided special occasions for dancing to the music of live bands.

Going to a prom in the Forties was nothing like it is today. Yes, the girls wore gowns , but the guys never wore tuxes. Also, we don’t remember going to dinner and most certainly, we never rented limousines. And if people took pictures of us when we were dressed for a prom, we have none.

Our circle of friends didn’t drink alcohol before, during or after a prom, and drugs of any kind were unheard of.

I asked Nancy to the Spring Prom in 1948, and we have been a couple from that time until today, 68 years later. I think I'll go ask her for a dance for old times' sake!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

53. Teen Canteen: Winter 1946

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, the Teen Canteen on Baltimore Street played a very significant role in our relationship. It was there on February 21, 1948 while slow dancing, I fell in love with the 17-year-old classmate who was to become my wife five long years later. But in 1946, we barely knew each other outside of the classes we shared together.

Nancy and I would come to know each other well in the fall of 1946 when we were elected officers in the sophomore class. The class picture in the 1947 yearbook is the first photo of us together.

The Teen Canteen in early 1946 was located in a former bank building on the east side of Baltimore Street just a few doors from Middle Street. It had become a popular place for high school kids to go, and in 1945,108 people attended the Labor Day dance where an eight-piece orchestra entertained.

In an article in the Maroon and White in February 0f ’46, high school students expressed their opinions about the Canteen. Freshman classmate Pat Shealer offered one of the most colorful comments saying, “It’s a swell place to spend an evening. Hubba!”

Senior Janice Cole said, “I like it for it gives the kids two things to do instead of one which is going to the movies”

The February Maroon and White also featured an article announcing the Canteen would soon be open two nights a week and not just Saturday.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

52. News from Gettysburg: January 1946

Nancy and I were lowly freshmen at Gettysburg High School and about to turn fourteen when the new year began in January of 1946.  Both of us were honor role students and involved in school activities like sports, student council and choir.

On the south end of town, the College announced the need for rooms to accommodate 150 veterans of World War II who were planning to begin the second semester at Gettysburg. Thanks to the GI bIll which paid veterans to continue their schooling, nearly eight million veterans would participate in education and training programs throughout the country.

In January, Kathryn Oiler, librarian for the Adams County Free Library on Carlisle Street, announced the hours when the library would be open for the public.  Nancy and I remember the library across from High Street School and the library in the former Post Office on Baltimore Street but have no recollection of a library on Carlisle Street.

Also in January of 1946, members of the Chamber of Commerce were informed that Gettysburg was not chosen as the site for the United Nations peace capital.  Gettysburg was one of forty areas that offered to host the  intergovernmental organization established to promote international cooperation.

A front page story in the Gettysburg Star and Sentinel on January 5, 1946,  reported that someone broke into the local jail, but the culprit escaped. Apparently, the prowler didn’t realize that if he surrendered after breaking in, the sheriff would have obliged him and provided a cell.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

51. More about basketball in the Forties

Since our recent post about high school basketball when Nancy and I were Growing Up in Gettysburg, we heard from several friends who reminded us of other changes in the game since the Forties.

For example, I played basketball at Gettysburg High School for four years, and I don’t remember anyone on our team slam-dunking the ball. I also don’t recall anyone dunking the ball on the teams we played in the old South Penn Conference.  It simply wasn’t part of the game.

Today, when two or more opposing players have possession of the ball at the same time, the referee awards the ball to one team or the other on a rotating basis. Every held ball in the Forties resulted in a jump ball which occasionally resulted in a 5’6’’ guard jumping against a center a foot taller than him.  

Today, a team is awarded free throws after their opponents accumulate a specific number of fouls. I don’t recall such a rule when I played the game.

In the previous post about basketball seventy years ago, I mentioned there was no shot clock and more emphasis on defense. That resulted in much lower scores like a 20 - 13 win against Shippensburg in 1946. 

But wait a minute! Apparently, defense in basketball is not dead.  In November, 2015, the  Bibb County High School  basketball team of Panther County, Alabama, defeated Brookwood High School 2-0. All the scoring happened in the first 15 seconds of the opening possession. The remaining 31-plus minutes were scoreless.

It is rumored the game was so dull that fans, players on the bench, a coach and one of the referees went to sleep. Me too had I been there.