Posted by: abbiewatters | August 6, 2011

Teenage Miscellany

When you were a teenager, what did you do for fun? – I read books and watched TV. I also played cards and board games with my friends and family.

Did you have a favorite spot to “hang out”? – In my teenage years I “hung out” in the neighborhood. There were about 10 kids within a year or two of my age, and we sat in the back yards or on porches and talked and listened to music. Nobody could get a driver’s license until they were 17 in New Jersey (18 in New York), and even those kids who did have driver’s licenses in high school didn’t have cars. A few did when I was a senior, but even then we didn’t go anywhere. There weren’t any drive-in restaurants in Westfield, and there really wasn’t anywhere else to go. When the weather was really good we would go to Echo Lake Park on the edge of town and sit on picnic tables and talk and listen to music. The churches rotated holding dances with DJs most weekends, and sometimes we would go to the “Y” where they would have dances occasionally. During the spring and fall, when the evenings were nice, the town used to open one of the parking lots by the train station and get a DJ for skating parties. You had to bring your own skates, but it was kind of fun since there wasn’t a real skating rink in town.

What time did you have to be home at night? – Unless I was at a dance or at a church function, I had to be in the house by 9:00 o’clock. When I was at a “supervised” party or dance, I had to be home 30 minutes after it was over. But there wasn’t anywhere to go or anything to do except go home or get into trouble. (And remember, I was a real prig, so I would NEVER do anything that might get me into trouble.)

Did you ever get into any trouble? – See above!

Were there any phrases that were popular when you were a teenager? – “See you later, alligator,” is the only one I remember, but there must have been more.

What did you like to wear? – We wore dresses or skirts and blouses to school, but we didn’t have uniforms. The Catholic school kids did wear uniforms, and we used to tease them about it.

How did your parents feel about the way you talked and what you wore? – They were fine with it. Remember, I was the GOOD GIRL!

When did you learn how to drive? Who taught you? – I learned how to drive after we got home from Europe between my junior and senior year in high school. I turned 17 while we were there, so I had to wait until we got home to learn. Mama taught me, and I think she did a VERY good job of it. Of course, I was timid behind the wheel, and I was super law-abiding (see above. I was the GOOD GIRL). Big Al taught me to drive a stick-shift after we were married. We had an old VW, and he took me to one of the parking lots at Stephen F. Austin State College during the summer, and showed me where the gears were and where the clutch was, and told me to drive over to the Student Union when I figured it out. I spent about an hour driving round and round the parking lot, practicing shifting, stopping, breaking, accelerating, etc., and then I drove over and picked him up.

What was your first car like? – I didn’t have a car of my own until after Bill was born when I was 27 years old and had been married for 7 years.

What was your graduation from high school like? – I graduated on a Friday night in the third week of June, and we left the next morning at 6:00 a.m. to drive to Texarkana because I had a job as a Girl Scout camp counselor. The schools in Arkansas got out in the end of May, and I didn’t get out until the latter part of June, so I had already missed one session of the three sessions of camp by the time we got to Texarkana.

What dreams and goals did you have for your life when you graduated? – I wanted to get married, and have a career, but I didn’t have anybody in particular in mind for a husband and I didn’t have any particular type of work in mind for a career.

(This is the end of the section of the Legacy Project about “Life Events – Childhood” and the end of the first page of questions. I’ll start the next section about “Life Events – Adulthood” tomorrow.)


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