Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Who stole our youth?

 
We attended a high school alumni luncheon last month for classes from 1942-1968. We were the spring chickens. Actually the people at the table in the background graduated a year ahead of us, so we all kind of sort of knew one another.
 
It was odd to see women in their 60s who had the same faces as the girls who used to be 17 years old, so familiar, but hard to put a name with. When we saw their name tags we realized, "YES! That's who she is. Bill and I sat with Ray, Phil and Pat (dated in high school and married after graduation) and Pat's sister, Sharon, a year behind our class. We share memories relevant only to us: the neighborhood where we turned in glass soda bottles for 2 cents per bottle refunds; the primitive football field, which was a lot, covered with cinders, a block away from school.
 
Following is an essay I wrote for the high school website.
 
In the mid 1960s, I lived near the wide intersection of Jefferson/Gravois/Sidney. On weekdays after school, I walked to Schmiemeyer’s Drug Store to purchase a newspaper for my parents. Outside of the drugstore there was a metal newspaper stand manned by a paperboy. If he wasn’t there, I simply took a newspaper from the shelf underneath and left the seven cents on top the stand, no slot, no locked box, just trust. On weekends around dusk, the distributor dumped bundled, 3" thick newspapers at the curb. Dozens of paperboys congregated on the corner to load their wagons; then they headed out on their particular routes. They tugged those wagons up and down the residential streets. The clanking of metal wheels, louder than the paperboys’ shouts, filled the night air.

Inside the drugstore, we swivelled on stools at the counter and drank fountain sodas with cherry flavoring. Late Saturday nights we hung out at the paper stand and “oohed” and “aahed”at the hot rods barreling down Gravois, headed to or from the drag strip.

Money was scarce, but we knew how to turn a dime. We’d scrounge around for glass soda bottles which often littered the ground. We’d turn them in at Mrs. Bean’s Confectionary on Sidney and Indiana and collect the 2 cents deposit on each 12 and 16 oz. bottle. We thought we hit a gold mine whenever we discovered a 32 oz. bottle; they were worth a nickel! When my future sister-in-law and I, both 15, came up with 50 cents, we’d head to Savorite Diner and order two Cokes and an order of fries to share. We thought we were cool in our pointy-toed Beatle Boots, white button-down shirts and turquoise stretch pants, our hair teased like a rat’s nest, peering out the plate glass window, hoping to get a glimpse of her boyfriend in his ‘57 Chevy.

Next door to the Jefferson-Gravois Bank, Hill Brothers Shoe Store had their slogan plastered across their front window. “Two for Five, Man Alive!” Those shoes wore out in less than a month. I bought flats in every pastel color imaginable, and also cheap white canvas shoes for P.E., required to be worn with those silly royal blue, bloomer gym suits.

The Gravois Show provided entertainment - a cartoon, previews and three shows, all for 50 cents; 35 cents on Tuesdays. The tiny “greasy spoon” next door to the show permeated the air with the aroma of fried onions. Two doors south of the show was the record shop where we could listen to 45 rpm records in a soundproof booth before purchasing. The proprietor displayed brochures, listing the top 10 songs on the Billboard Charts, and we often just went in to pick up KXOK or WIL handouts with the words to a hit song printed on the back.

Mimosa trees fragranced the summer nights as teen-aged boys and girls hung out on front porches on my block and talked until the wee hours, dreaming of tomorrow, planning our futures, wondering what would become of us. It was an innocent time; we were safe walking the streets and hanging out. Here we are in our mid sixties - my goodness, times have changed! But we haven't. Young at heart, we are still the kids of yesterday.
 
 

13 comments:

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I find myself waxing nostalgic a lot of late. Things I had long forgotten just seem to pop up in my head. Some days I look in the mirror and wonder who that old woman looking back at me is. I don't feel old so much as I feel tired.
I never graduated from high school, got married when I was 15. I have no idea why I was in such a hurry to grow up. I missed out on a lot, but I don't really regret it, made me who I am. So, reunions are not a part of my life. I was a divorced mother of two when I got my GED and went on to nursing school, graduated, got a job as an ER nurse and met He Who was an EMT. No regrets.

Bookie said...

Ah, such a picture of the past! It wasn't perfect but it sure was good too, wasn't it?

BECKY said...

Great memories, Linda. My world is full of memories, too. I have to comment to Kathy's Klothesline that I admire her for not having regrets, because her life then, has definitely made who she is today. That's what I wrote in my memoir, because I too got married too young, and to a guy I knew for 30 DAYS! LOL

Val said...

I certainly hope you discover the culprit...because my knees are screaming, "Which way did he go?" Not that they can chase him, of course.

KXOK! Haven't thought about that station in years. I can still hear their jingle in my not-so-sharp ears. #74 on the link below is the one I remember most.

http://630kxok.stlmedia.net/audio/jingles/index.htm

Sioux said...

Linda--Your last line, "We are still the kids of yesterday" is a gem. You brought back memories of my own childhood and teenaged years.

DUTA said...

Your essay for the high scool website is beautifully written.
Yes, money was scarce in those days, but human values were abundant, and there was always Hope. Nowadays there's more money (due to financial acrobatics taught by the government) but Hope for a better future is fading away...

Alice said...

Linda, like you, my mind’s been taking me back in the day a lot lately. Your story had me singing songs of my era, reminiscing about my glory days, making root beer floats at A&W, picking up golf balls on my friend’s dad’s golf range for a penny a piece to get onto the dance floor at the parish picnic. . . Like your last line says, we have to remember to stay young at heart!

Linda O'Connell said...

To all my wonderful blog friends, thank you for your comments. Be proud of who you are. We are a mere reflection of our youth and have learned so many life lessons.

Kathy,
Kudos!Your tenacity, marriage to HE WHO (I love that), life achievements, and campground stories add to your strength, and earn my respect. I know lots of people with degrees and no temperatures!

Bookie, love it when you can relate to a time and place.

Becky, we all make mistakes in our youth. At least you did not stay past time to go! Look at where you are now.

DUTA, your observations are astute, and yes, civility has gone by the way side, which makes me sad.

Alice, well a trip back in time is what you and I do best, and I have pictures to prove it. Thanks for your comments.

Val, a trip back in time can be a bon voyage in your mind. Your blog posts always make me smile. Now I am singing the oldies.

Sioux, yes, that is what life is all about, being young at heart, and you red, make it look easy.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Love this post, Linda. Made me sigh with remembrance for times past.

Connie said...

You have such great memories, Linda, and you described them very well. This brought back quite a few memories of my own.

K9friend said...

Memories are so precious. Many of yours resonated with me.

Pat
Critter Alley

Lynn said...

Great essay on your past...where does the time go?

Susan said...

Hi Linda.
Oh yes, I think you will always be a "kid at heart." So will I! And that's a good thing. Nice job on the essay. Susan