This spring there were several letters from Lucy and Grace about high school. That and an upcoming visit with a good friend from high school got me thinking about my experiences. Once my mind starts off in that direction, it’s tough to rein it in.
A couple of months ago I found my scrap books from Junior High and Senior High school. There are some interesting tidbits in there, not the least of which is a letter from Sandy. She sent a birthday card to me in 1964, complete with a four page letter. She covers a lot of ground in the letter, clearly letting me know my second-fiddle status.
Sandy and I spent a lot of time together, wrote letters, and talked on the phone for hours. We enjoyed the days talking and deciding what to do with our lives. We were in confirmation class together, a class that played a prominent role in my teen-aged life. She planned to see me in class soon. We had a good class, at least twenty or so kids?
Here’s the interesting part. I don’t remember Sandy. And who is this Dave she writes so longingly about? Peggy plays a significant role in this letter, too. Who was she? Finally, Sandy mentions Linda. I really should remember her based on Sandy’s reaction to the card I sent to Linda. Continue reading
In this letter Grace shares something I had never heard before, and never did hear in person from her. She talks about a young man that she knew well, but never “went out” with. Is that a common thing? What comes to mind is a certain young lady who was very special to me in high school, we were together many times, double dated and such. We enjoyed many of the same activities in school, signed the yearbook with some special sentiments, but we never hit it off. Now, how many years later, we are still friends. Somehow that closeness never developed into a deep romance. Maybe that’s good?
Steele high school
I think I enjoyed that second year at Steele a lot more than I did the first. I was so bashful + scared to talk to anybody that a lot of kids thought I was stuck up. Guess its hard for all kids to start in a new school, it sure was for me. We always had a homecoming dance + ball game in the fall with a queen + all that goes with it. That year someone nominated me + another gal to run for queen. She got elected but it was quite an honor anyway.
Joyce & Guy – Prom 1967
Lately the letters from Grace and Lucy have been about the various dances they went to in high school. I don’t remember my mother ever talking about going to dances, she never taught me how to dance, but I never missed a dance. In the early days it was John, Mark and me going to the dances just to watch the bands and talk about their guitars and drum kits. Later on I became interested in taking girls to the dances.
The first dances I remember going to with a date were the ones at the Masonic Lodge. They were pretty formal affairs, with dance cards and such. The school put on a number of dances, too, like homecoming. Generally it was pretty important to never go to the dance alone.
Last month Lucy wrote about her first date and the dances she and her best friend Evy went to. One does not go to a dance alone, especially in the thirties.
Duke Ellington’s band at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo
The dance Lucy describes in this letter was at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo. The first time I read this letter that fact didn’t seem to mean much. There were little ballrooms in every town, but this one was in Fargo, and Lucy had to drive 24 miles from Gardner to get there. That fact alone means the Crystal Ballroom was something special. Over in Kidder County, Grace lived in a boarding house in Steele because the 23 miles from the farm was too great a distance to travel every day to get to school.
The Crystal Ballroom hosted some famous bands, demonstrated by an album recorded in 1940 by Duke Ellington and his band, live at the Crystal Ballroom. Such a high-class place as that certainly wouldn’t let in the likes of people who dressed like Lucy and her best friend.
Dancing was the big thing in high school. If you weren’t dating and dancing you were considered a “wall flower.” My brother Lewellyn (Lew) taught me how to dance by standing on his toes when I was small. Loving music added fun to it of course – some times. Evy Malen (my best friend) and I would have 5 + 6 dances ahead. Guess that is not done now.
Evy and I went to Fargo with two men and we went to the Crystal Ballroom to dance. While we danced a big fat lady with a badge on her shoulder said we had to leave the dance hall because we were wearing anklets. She was a deputy and we were the talk of the high school. We thought it was fun.
Lucy’s in the back row, far right, with the Tuba
In this letter, Lucy recalls high school as being a happy time for her. Both Judy and I have fond memories of high school, too. There’s something special about not having any real responsibilities to keep you awake at night. The most vexing part of school might be the boyfriend / girlfriend issues. In Lucy’s case, it was Hubert. For me there were a couple of good friends who happened to be girls, and one very special girlfriend. Those were happy days.
We enjoyed our high school days, but there’s something even better. Your own children in high school. There’s a certain vicarious pleasure in hosting the various parties and dinners for the kids. Judy and I were able to blend in with the wallpaper as the kids partied, laughed, and had their nervous conversations with their dates. They were so full of energy and eagerness.
Now we are waiting for the grand children to start the high school days. It’s only ten more years or so.
In high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors were all in one room. I guess my high school years were about the happiest time of my young years.
Each year we would go to Casselton and have relay races, basketball throw, potato races, (potatoes would be spread and you picked them up one at a time and take them to home base), high jump was my best, because of my long legs I guess.
The house in Steele where Grace boarded.
The one thing that jumps out from this letter is the comment about going to school twenty-three miles from the farm. That was so far away Grace rented a room to stay in town during the week. In today’s world, in fact in my world of high school, 23 miles was not a big deal. How many of us think nothing of going out for dinner or to a concert that far away, and drive home in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter? Many of you commute farther than that every day. Transportation has improved a lot since 1936.
My first two years of high school I went in Steele. We lived about 23 miles from there, so I stayed there during the week. In my freshman year I roomed with Ruth Marston and shared a room with a girl from Dawson who was a year older than me.
Mike B and I were both science nuts in the eighth grade. We wanted to do something with that interest, so it seemed a natural to get into the publishing business. After all, I had a typewriter and Hectograph, and Mike had the keen business sense necessary to run a magazine.
the analyst – Front Cover – click for more
So, what’s a Hectograph you ask? It was the cheapest copy machine in the world. The first step to creating a publication was to type it using a special carbon paper. To make copies, we first placed the carbon copy face down on a tray full of a Jell-O like substance. After just a few minutes you would peel off the paper and there would be a mirror image of the page in the gel. Then, just place a clean sheet of paper on the gel, let it sit for another few minutes and voilà! A printed page. The carbon paper was available in colors, and easily made twenty or thirty copies. Blogging, 1960s style. (You may not have noticed that typographical errors are permanent in this process.)