School was a wonderful whirlwind, but the Senior year was coming to an end soon. I loved everything about school and all my wonderful friends (many are still friends). I had done well with my grades and was offered a full teaching scholarship to Marshall University. I was also awarded the Leadership and Achievement award at graduation.
I really wanted to take advantage of the teaching scholarship and needed some support from my parents. You have to remember this was an era when most women didn’t go to college, but were expected to marry and have children. Many of my friends were heading to Capital City Commerical College, some to jobs and a few to college. I got zero support from my family to go to Marshall and I had to turn down the scholarship and I regret it to this day. However, I did enroll at Capital City Commercial College and completed my studies there.
We lived about 25 miles from Charleston, WV and I didn’t have a car. My girlfriend, Carolyn and I got a ride with Mr. Prunty into Charleston each day. We both got jobs at Silver Brand Clothes and worked there a few days a week and went to school three days a week. My first job was typing addresses on a little silver stamping plate that was used to send out mailings to customers. It was loud and I hated it, but I was expected to have a job.
We would usually stop off at the Imperial Diner for a sandwich and Coke between school and work. This was truly a Charleston landmark and they had the best cream pie in the area.
I went to commercial college and passed the courses with flying colors, but I just couldn’t think I would be a secretary the rest of my life. Not that there is anything wrong with being a secretary, but something just didn’t click for me. I could see myself in more of a leadership role or planner. I thought….what have I gotten my self into…………
My special someone, Basil was always waiting for me after class or after work. This gave us an opportunity to see each other more and I had a way to get home from school. In looking back, I am sure this must have been an expensive date to drive me home each week. We were young, adventuresome, and we did care if it snowed oats. We were in love.
Going steady in 1959 meant you were now dating one guy and you are serious about your relationship. Having sex was not part of the relationship in this era. Being serious meant you had found a person you like and may love and you aren’t presently interested in anyone else.
Going steady also meant the guy would give you his graduation ring to wear on a chair around your neck. Basil ask me to go steady and he gave me his South Charleston class ring to wear. Your heart is beating very fast and you think you may be in love.
This all seemed to happen very fast and my head hasn’t caught up with my heart. I have lots of dreams, plans and questions for my life and I am not sure how any of them will work out. Right now, I know someone really cares for me and that makes me very confident and happy.
Original Painting by Gen Gillen (my friend)
Back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, people actually had a family dinner on Sunday and just about every night of the week. Basil finally invited me to go to his house for Sunday dinner and to meet all his family. I was so nervous. I only had one sister , but Basil had 8 other brothers or sisters.
His mom always had Sunday Dinner at the dining room table and today was no exception. The white linen table cloth was on the table, her best china and chairs for many, many people. I had never seen so many people at a family dinner. MawMaw had prepared her famous rump roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls and several desserts. I learned later that this was prepared every Sunday.
All the brothers and sisters who lived near where there with all their children. The children had a special table in the kitchen. The men usually ate first and then the women. However, they told me to eat with Basil since we were dating.
Everyone in his family was so nice and happy. Actually 50 years later….they are still the same. I couldn’t have met a better family anywhere.
All the men headed to the porch or to play ball after dinner. You guessed it. All the women went to the kitchen to wash dishes. His sisters told he I didn’t have to wash dishes, but if we ever married I had to help.
It felt like everyone was talking at the same time and my ears were roaring. Aunt Doris (whom I love) could always talk longer and louder than everyone. I felt like I had known these people forever.
It was time for me to go home now. We hopped in Basil’s car for the drive back to Lincoln County. It was so quite when I got home. I missed all the noise, laughter and talking I had experienced today.
***Original Painting by My Friend, Gen Gillen
Life is not a bed of roses and no one ever promised us life would always be perfect. There have been many situations along the way that have been painful, stressful and trying. Some things require patience and waiting until the situation changes and you have a new direction. What are some of your moments of pain or love that taught you a great lesson in life? I will share a few of my learning moments.
1. The people you trust the most can and will let you down.
2. Some people have a habit of lying and then telling a lie about the lie.
3. The longer you live the older you get.
4. Sometimes it is best to pick your battles.
5. Your best intent with your words can be misconstrued and cause pain.
6. Others do not see you as you see yourself.
7. True love covers a multitude of sin.
8. Memories for the future must be made one day at a time.
9. Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart.
10. Hearing the words…Your dad has died or your mom has died are life changing.
11. Don’t ever say, “If that was my kid…I would….. Chances are your kid will do it.
12. Being deceived cuts to the bone.
Grandpa McClure had worked at Wesvaco and on his farm for years. I think he just decided there were a few things in life he wanted to see before he got too old. Grandpa had always wanted to see the ocean and he decided on Myrtle Beach, SC. His son, James was now driving and could help with the drive.
Grandpa asked me if I would like to go too. Well, it took about 2 seconds to say yes, but I would have to see if it was okay with mother and daddy. I was so, so excited. I had never been to the ocean before. I started putting my clothes together and bought a pretty black one piece bathing suit. I had lost lots of weight and I looked pretty cool.
It seemed like we drove and drove and drove and we probably did. There were no interstate highways and it was state route driving all the way. There were fields of crops and cotton all down through the south and fruit stands everywhere. Granny had packed a big box of food and we stopped along the highway and ate at a park.
We stayed at the El Patio Motel on Kings Highway. There was a billboard with a big cactus out front. The motel was equipped with a big window air conditioner! Boy, we cranked that air conditioner up that night to keep everything cool. The next morning grandpa woke up with a terrible headache and his sinus completely stopped up. He said it was that old air conditioner. He had never slept in an air conditioned room before.
The first glimpse of the ocean just about took my breath. Oh, this is so awesome. The amusement park was right down by the ocean and James and I headed for the rides. Granny was always a worry wart and she kept saying, “Now, you all be careful”.
I can still see Granny McClure in her white hat, white sandals, a dress and an umbrella. She was afraid of the ocean when she was standing 200 ft back. Grandpa just stood in awe and cherished the moment of seeing the ocean for the first time. I am so glad I got to see this first time experience with him.
Memories with your grandparents last for a lifetime.
We were having a basketball game at school and Basil said he would like for us to go. Everything had to be cleared with my parents and they said okay. We sat on the bleachers and the game begins …..and so does Basil. This guy is not quite at ballgames. He was getting his money’s worth out of the game. He was screaming, “Kill them, Shoot Shoot, Umpire where are your eyes and Foul. Everyone was looking at us, so it seemed.
On Monday I went to the library for Study Hall and Mrs. Goode asked me if the boy I was with at the game was drunk. She said I know your parents and they wouldn’t want you to be with someone drinking. I was astonished that she thought he was drunk. I just tried to explain that he really gets excited when he goes to a ballgame and he enjoys cheering. She sort of laughed and was glad he wasn’t drunk, but had never seen anyone so excited at a ballgame. He is still like this.
I kept thinking about this guy and I sort of liked the way he wasn’t afraid to be different and not sit like a knot on a log.
The Thespian Dance was always one of the best social events in school. The Thespian Club was mostly the artsy fartsy kids who liked to give speeches, participate in theater and travel to NY for speech events. Once a year Mrs. V sponsored a nice dance and you were expected to not be a wallflower, but a participant in the events.
This sounded really exciting, but I needed a date for the dance. Darrell said he would ask Basil if he would like to go. Basil lived in So. Charleston and it was about 25 miles away. I didn’t know if he would come or not. Darrell said he would ask him and let me know. This is where it gets confusing. Darrell didn’t tell Basil this was a dance. He just said it was a school function.
The night of the dance soon arrived and I was getting excited about actually attending the dance with the cute guy from South Charleston. I had on a black silky dress with white puffy sleeves and looked pretty good. Soon I heard a knock at the door and there stood Basil in his casual outfit and his South Charleston school jacket. Both of our mouths dropped open. Darrell played a trick on us. He told Basil to just wear anything and didn’t tell him it was formal. Basil said I am so sorry and said he would understand if I didn’t want to go with him.
I didn’t know what to do!!!! I really wanted to go to the dance and just wondered if I could be strong enough to explain to my friends that Darrell didn’t tell Basil it was a dance. We decided to go to the dance and have a good time and we did. I introduced Basil to my friends and they got a good laugh out of Darrell’s prank.
He couldn’t dance then and 48 years later he still can’t dance, but I love him.