Sunday, January 29, 2017

98. Around Her Hair She Wore a Red Ribbon

Readers of Growing Up in Gettysburg may recall that our story began when my family moved to Gettysburg in 1942. That year, I entered sixth grade in  Lincoln School where Nancy was also a student. Since we began our blog, we have written about our experiences through the years in and out of school. Now we look back at a very important event in our lives that occurred in the winter of 1948.

In the fall of our junior year in high school in 1947, Nancy invited me to accompany her to parties on two successive weekends, and I accepted her invitations.  From that time until February, 1948, we danced together occasionally, but never dated each other again.

On Saturday, February 21, 1948, all the clerks at Murphy’s 5 & 10 where Nancy worked on weekends were asked to wear a red ribbon in their hair. After work, she still wore the ribbon when she met her friends at the Teen Canteen. I was there with my friends.

Something about the way Nancy looked with a ribbon in her hair lit a spark prompting me to look at her again and again with increasing interest.  I asked Nancy to dance three times that night. The last time she had her coat on preparing to leave with her friends, when I asked her to join me once more. In her diary that night, Nancy wrote that I held her “real close.”

I believe that I fell in love with Nancy that February night at the Teen Canteen shortly after I turned seventeen. Nancy would be sixteen for another month.

Incidentally, a popular song in February, 1948 was When You Were Sweet Sixteen by Perry Como. We may have danced to that song that night at the Canteen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

97. Bullying and Sexuality in the Forties

Nancy and I recently read a report from the American Psychological Association, suggesting, “40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers.”  That data prompted us to think about bullies when we were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties. Neither one of us could recall a single incident involving us or our friends.

A search of the Gettysburg Times published from 1945 through June of 1949 when we were in high school revealed only one mention of  someone who was a bully. On April 3, 1947 there was an article about “bullying coaches who help incite crowds to disorder.”

Another subject that was never in the news in the Forties was sexuality.  If you Google that term today, you will be led to sites where you will find descriptions of seven different types of sexual orientation: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, polysexual, pansexual and transexual.

When we were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, Nancy and I  only remember an occasional use of the word “homosexual,” but we never used any of the other terms, and we never heard anyone else use them.  A search for these words in the Gettysburg Times while we were in high school got no hits.

Of course, we also use words today like cell phone, Google, Facebook and iTunes which were unheard of in the Forties, but they describe products or services that were created since then. We assume  that seven categories of sexuality existed in the Forties. We just never heard of them. We wonder how many people know they exist today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

96. Dances Were Frequent and Popular

Nancy’s diary for January and February of 1948 reveals that she and her friends often attended dances sponsored by the school, the canteen, the Elks Club and various service clubs. 

The senior canteen sponsored by the Gettysburg recreation center was especially popular with older teens. On January 19, for example 260 teenagers attended the canteen at the  Gettysburg Hotel Annex, and of course, Nancy was there with her girlfriends. 

I believe it was a dance at the canteen when I first realized what a very special girl Nancy was. But more about that in a future post.

There were also dances after basketball games on Fridays when the basketball team played at home.The team ended January on a seven game winning streak before losing to Waynesboro, a team they had beaten handily in early January.

After every dance or home game, it was customary to go uptown and eat. The most popular spot was the Sweetland or the Delecto on the square. The Blue & Gray Bar & Grill is now located in the building that once housed the Sweetland, and we think T&S Clothing is now located where the Delecto existed in the Forties.