Title IX became effective on June 23, 1972. In effect it declared that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in any education program or activity. The law said that all women have the same rights to athletic programs as men did. The law came in to effect the same year that I graduated from High School and I wish it had come earlier. Prior to that women’s sports were frowned upon. The stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband and eventually marry, have children, and never work again just wasn’t cutting it. Women would watch their male counterparts from the stands and I’m sure many would wonder to themselves, ” Hey, I would like to try that”, or ” I could do that just as good as them”. At the time there was a big backlash against the law. Giving women equal access to athletics as the men meant having to spend money on women’s athletic facilities such as fields, locker rooms, uniforms, coaches, etc. Since most schools operated on a fixed athletic budget it meant spreading that budget out which also meant less money for the boys programs. This didn’t make a lot of people happy and many schools just said screw it, we’re not going to conform. That pretty much ended after girls sued the schools and won and schools were found liable for punitive damages. It was also found illegal to claim financial hardship for the school…just make it work was the answer.
I have seen both sides as a father and a brother. My sister graduated before me and was not privy to the new law and activities it provided. The girls were basically limited to cheerleading, drill team, and PE classes. Then they were to go to the games and root for the boys…that sucked. I’m positive there were a number of talented athletic girls before 1972 and to have no access to sports was wrong. A lot of girls just didn’t want to be a cheerleader, they wanted to shoot baskets, hit volleyballs, run in track and enjoy the competitive spirit of being on a sports team. Before 1972 I would guess that instead of playing sports the girls had a lot of dead time to pass which often meant just hanging out and getting in to trouble. After the law sports gave them an avenue to do something fun and be part of a team which is a great way to feel like you belong. Just being on a team and having camaraderie will help anyone’s self esteem. As a father I was able to see my daughter take full advantage of participating in sports. She played softball and soccer in high school and both played an integral part of her growing up. She had some sort of practice or game after almost every day of school, there wasn’t any dead time for her to head in the wrong direction. It also turns out that she excelled at both sports. Her junior year her softball team consisted of a great group of girls who had been playing together since their freshman year and they went on to win a CIF Championship in 2003. It was an extremely exciting time and the whole school rallied around them. She was also named “Female Athlete of the Year” her senior year…well enough about my daughter, the point is athletics was a positive in her life and to this day she still puts on her cleats and plays on recreational soccer teams. I am convinced that Title IX has been good for a lot of girls and anyone who is a father of a female athlete would likely agree. From my perspective girls are also better teammates than their counterparts. I had the chance to coach both my sons in baseball and my daughter in softball and I can tell you firsthand that girls are easier to coach. First of all they listen. Young boys by the age of 12 seem to be convinced that they know everything already, which I’m sure is from their dad’s input. Girl’s embrace their teammates, boys try to one-up their fellow players…again dad telling them who they need to beat out to be able to play short-stop and bat clean-up. After writing this down it seems that dads are the real culprit. Coaching the girls was a pleasure and while the great majority stopped sports at the high school level, it helped them through those year’s with a sense of purpose, not to mention the health benefits of staying active. Women’s sports have thrived since the inception of Title IX particularly in college sports. There are now athletic scholarships available to both men and women, which is a far cry from the ” go to college to get married” stereotype. Women can go on to make a professional living in sports like golf, tennis, basketball ( this is one sport that women have a way to go to catch up to the men), and coaching of women’s sports on all levels. 1972 may seem like ancient times to many but Title IX has had an amazing impact on women’s sports and fairness as witnessed by the number of women participating in sports today. It is a positive example of fairness finding the light and becoming law, a win-win for all.
Living and driving the streets of LA for the past 40-years it seems to me that panhandling, nice word for begging, has reached an all-time high. Maybe it was the economic downturn of 2008 or in my opinion the deep cuts in mental health programs that have put more mentally ill on the streets. According to a study in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, ” 70% of beggars stated that they would prefer a minimum-wage job, citing a desire for getting off the street. However, many felt they could not handle conventional jobs because of mental illness.” I don’t pretend to know the reason but it is noticeable to me on almost every busy intersection that I come to a stop at, walking downtown, or basically any public place with foot or auto traffic. Beggars have existed in human society since before the dawn of recorded history and happens in most societies around the world. The question now becomes how to handle it when confronted. The easiest way is to just say no every time you are confronted. This seems to be a popular opinion as the rational is that the money will just be used to buy alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. I really can’t argue with that, I have seen beggars go straight to the liquor store after collecting money from me. I have also offered food to the homeless only to be turned down and asked for money which really took me by surprise. Of every 10 beggars that we offered food to only 2 or 3 wanted any. I was a bit disheartened after that but I still am a sucker for giving money to people I deem to be desperately in need of some kind of help. I am particularly susceptible to women panhandlers, I will almost always give them at least $1.00 and more if they have children with them. I don’t know if it’s a set-up but I still figure any woman who uses their kids to beg for money is in need of help. I am constantly conflicted over what is the right thing to do. You could go broke if you were to give to every panhandler that crossed your path, yet I feel a tinge of guilt when I just walk by and do nothing. I did find some answers that takes a little work but is an alternative to dishing out money everytime. There are cheap things that you can give to the homeless that will help in their survival such as clean socks, food gift cards, bandages, nail clippers, disposable razors, small bars of soap. This takes effort on my part and I am curious of the reaction you would get from a beggar if you handed him a clean pair of socks. The “I am a Vet ” also pulls at my heart strings but I would be curious how many of those sign holders are actually vets. Those in wheelchairs or obviously physically disabled will usually get money from me. Another solution is to donate to Homeless Shelters or Mental Illness philanthropies. Yet another alternative is to do nothing, which the majority of people seem to choose. You are not obligated to spend a penny on the homeless, particularly if your name is Scrooge.
The one positive I find from begging is the creativity of some of the cardboard signs I see, My wife has been kidnapped – I’m 99 cents short of ransom, Will eat for food, Money needed for alcohol research, Visa accepted, Why lie?, I need a Mercedes, Father killed by ninjas-need money for karate classes, My liver is evil and must be destroyed, Granny needs a tattoo removed, and Spaceship broken-need parts. These people are creative in their sign making but I rarely give to them as they seem together enough to come out with thought out signs. It would be nice to know of a reputable charity to donate money to where the money actually reaches the homeless and not some con artist’s pockets. Young men begging for money also irks me as it seems they have the capabilities to get some type of work on their own. Older men seem to be the type to head directly to the liquor store. So, I’ve basically narrowed down my donations to women, vets, the disabled and lastly people in such pathetic looking situations I know my guilt would overcome me if I didn’t help out in some way. Begging can also be very bothersome to the public, particularly when you face 8-10 beggars within a couple of blocks of walking. I have learned that establishing eye contact will seal your fate. Once your eyes meet it is only a matter of seconds before the words follow…Can you spare some change? Beggars that scare most people are those that are on the street corner yelling at the top of their voice. These fall under the mentally ill category and just isn’t safe in my opinion to walk up and offer money to. The police will generally step in if someone is making a being a total public nuisance, but will turn the other cheek if they are quietly panhandling. Besides, the cost of booking and jailing a beggar just isn’t worth it. Well begging has been around from the beginning of mankind and certainly isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. I hope that we can at least establish help for the mentally ill so they can have a chance of getting some work and off the streets.
Most of us have seen photographs or news video of Hawaii’s biggest waves on the North Shore of Oahu at Waimea Bay or The Banzai Pipeline. The waves get to be 30-feet in height and since the beginning of time the local Hawaiians thought they were impossible to ride due to their massive size. It would be impossible just to paddle out in such treacherous conditions. I first saw the waves in a movie called Ride The Wild Surf which was a hokey surf movie starring Fabian with music by Jan and Dean. The waves looked like mountains and falling off your board looked like certain death to me. The movie was made in 1964 and highlighted the monster waves of Waimea Bay. The first man to ever stand on the beach and look at those waves during a peak high break and say to himself “I’m going to try to ride those waves” was Greg Noll, nicknamed “Du Bull” in reference to his physique and way of charging down the face of a wave. I don’t know about you but sitting on the beach looking at 30-foot waves and then thinking “Hey, I’m gonna try to ride those” would be one of the last thoughts on my mind. I would be thinking ” Man, don’t get too close or the backwash will take you out to sea forever”, but this guy does the opposite. It had never been done before. Noll had a perfect surfing upbringing. He was born in San Diego and moved to Manhattan Beach at age 3. He began surfing in Manhattan at the age of 11 and became a member of the Manhattan Beach Surf Club and was also a lifeguard. He moved to Hawaii in the mid-50’s and lived and surfed at Makaha. Surfing was just getting attention in the US and the local surfers of Southern California could have their choice of waves wherever they wanted. Local surf groups began to form and surfing became cool with the allure of hanging out at the beach with bikini clad surfer chicks. The 50’s was the beginning of modern surfing. The surfing fad took off and strongly established itself as a glamour sport. The baby boomers were directly marketed to with “the surf look” and it caught on big time. The surfers of the 50’s were still riding big cumbersome boards made of balsa wood. The So. Cal surfers from Malibu to San Diego started to get real good, it was a life path. Huntington Beach and surrounding areas became Surf Central and the locals there were all the big names in surfing. They became so good that the next stop was the island of Hawaii and the famed North Shore for the biggest waves then known to man. It would be a bit disconcerting to most that even the local Hawaiians hadn’t surfed Waimea Bay on a big day. But in November 1957 Greg Noll gained his reputation by surfing Waimea Bay in 25-30 foot surf…unheard of at the time. He went where no man had ever been before armed with only his self-confidence. He didn’t know if that would be his last living day on Earth or if he could even paddle out thru the monstrous sets, let alone riding a wave successsfully. I think that is what impresses me the most, being the very first to do something with no knowledge of the results. That takes GUTS. He made his historic ride and others were soon to follow. I don’t know if anyone outside the surfing world even knew of his exploits in 1957 but he was definitely a hero to anyone that had ever ridden a surfboard.
By the 60’s surfing took on a radical change with the invent of fiberglass and foam surfboards making them incredibly lighter and less cumbersome. It changed the way everybody looked at surfing. Boards got shorter and faster and the average length went from 10-feet to 6-feet. It was easier to gain the speed necessary to catch any wave including the big waves. Big wave boards were still longer for stability. Greg Noll was still a hero in the 60’s and in November 1964 did again what no man had ever done in the past …he was the first surfer to ride a wave breaking on the outside reef of the Banzai Pipeline. Maybe he now had confidence from his Waimea feat but it still took Big Balls to be the first again. There was no assurance it could be done, just have to give it a try. In his own words, “It got bigger and bigger, and I started to go faster and faster. I felt like I was on a spaceship racing in a void. Suddenly there was no noise”. What a feeling to know you are the first at accomplishing something great even if your not a surfer. It would be comparable to being the first man to climb Mt. Everest. It was later at Makaha, in December 1969, that he rode what many at the time believed to be the largest wave ever surfed. This time he took a major wipe-out and the reality of being thrown around by a 30+foot wave took it’s toll. The trouble doesn’t end when you resurface, you still have to swim in to reclaim your shattered surfboard. I actually contacted Greg Noll by letter and had him sign an epic picture of him standing at the Banzai pipeline with his trademark black & white swimsuit. He signed the picture and kindly sent a nice note back with it…it is now framed and sitting over my desk at home. To many it may seem an insignificant feat but whenever I look at it I have to wonder what was going through his head when he decided to be the first to try something considered impossible and wonder if I would ever have the guts to try something for the first time myself.
When I was growing up one of the most popular shows on TV was The Andy Griffith Show which originally ran from 1960-’68 and has been in re-runs ever since. The show is set in Mayberry, North Carolina and portrays small town America with it’s fishing holes, wholesome living, and everyone-knows-everyone communal spirit. I loved the show as did millions of others. The one part of the show that I would find so funny is when Andy or Aunt Bee had to place a phone call. They used Candlestick Telephones which were common in rural America. The phones featured a mouthpiece mounted at the top of a stand, and a receiver (ear phone) that was held by the user to the ear during a call. To make a connection you had to go through a main switchboard where the operator would literally plug your line directly to the line of the person you were calling. Sarah was the operator in Mayberry and she would usually listen in on the phone calls out of boredom. She was also the main source of gossip in the town as she knew about everyone’s lives just by listening in to their phone conversations. I remember watching the show and thinking to myself how outdated the phone system was. It seemed like something out of the Dark Ages. I had to ask my parents if they remember using such a device and the answer was yes. At our home we were used to the ultra-modern Rotary Dial telephone. You could dial directly to your party without the use of an intermediate operator. The rotary phone had all the digits arranged in a circular layout so that a finger wheel could be rotated with one finger. You would put your finger in the hole by the corresponding number and wheel it to the stop position and let the wheel return to it’s original position. This was the phone of the 60’s and 70’s. It took some time to dial your 7-digit phone number and watch the dial return each time. It was a bummer when you made a mistake and had to start over again or worse when you dialed a wrong number and had to hang up and start again. If you were in an emergency there would be a good chance you might bleed to death before you got your number dialed. It could take two or three tries to get it right sometimes. It got more complicated when someone gave you a phone # with letters in it like 790-HELP, you would have to look up each number that corresponded with the number (3-letters per number) and hope you did it right. I am sure these telephones look ancient to today’s teenagers as I have already been asked if I had ever used one by one of my kids. I would love to see teenagers today try to use a rotary phone after being used to the speed of current cell phones. They would probably think it’s a game…spin the dial and see what phone number you get. But we thought it was modern at the time and used it for many crank calls which was always a favorite way to pass time, ” Is your refrigerator running…well go out and catch it”. It amazes me we could do that for hours at a time and still get the same rush if the person on the other end would say YES. The next biggest change came with Push-Button phones at the end of the 70’s. You could now just push a button instead of watching the dial go back and forth. The push button was light speed faster than the rotary dial and had cool audible tones for each key so you know when you hit a number right. The phones also now included the asterisk (*), which I still to this day don’t know what that button does, and the pound sign (#), which at least serves a purpose for customer service. We increased our crank call capability tenfold…”Does this sound like a telephone hanging up? SLAM goes the receiver”. Even pay phones were easy to use…I wonder how many working pay phones still exist in LA? I’ve never found one in an emergency, time to bleed out again. The 90’s hit and so did the cell phone. It was like someone hit the warp speed button on phone use, nothing to compare it to. People don’t even need land lines anymore, they can just walk around with a receiver in their ear…but don’t do that, it has a high nerd factor. They have recently come out with phones as part of your watch or glasses…even higher nerd factor. The rotary phone can now be bought in retro stores on Melrose Blvd. and put in your house as a conversation piece, right next to the hat rack.
How much would you pay if you could just sit down in the barber’s (stylist) chair and walk away with the perfect haircut? I would pay whatever the barber charged plus a 20% tip…no questions asked. We just moved to a different city which is still close to where we used to live, but not close enough to keep going to the same barber. Finding and breaking in a new barber is difficult. Your a first time customer so you need to explain how you want it cut, then just sit back and hope, usually to be disappointed. It was so much different as a kid. The barbershops in the early 60’s had pictures on the wall of different hairstyles. All you had to do when your number was called was point to the picture and sit down in which ever chair came open. This is after you had already graduated from the at-home haircut by dad which consisted of one pair of shears set at a ridiculously short setting and sitting outside watching your hair fall around you. It was also your job to clean that up afterwards. Going to the barbershop was kinda cool because they had stacks of comic books to read while you were waiting. You wanted a few minutes to try and find a comic book that had come out in the past year but the majority were the same ones going back 10-years or so. I remember always being fascinated with the advertisements for X-RAY glasses that claimed you could see through anything including women’s clothing. I would rip the ad out of the comic book but never do anything with it. Even back then as a 12-year old I could smell something fishy about how well they would work and why I had never seen anyone actually wearing a pair after all those years. Well my number gets called and I jump up in to the barbers chair and the barber makes the chair higher with a few pumps of his feet. I would love to own an original barber’s chair…they were so comfortable. After being asked how I wanted my haircut I would point to a picture on the wall, “Gimme the Regular Boys” cut. There were a total of six haircuts you could choose from…that’s it, so it was a much simpler process. You didn’t even have to talk, just point to a picture on the wall. The Regular Boys was the most popular as it gave you enough hair to part and comb over with shorter sides. It was about what 70% of the boys and men were wearing back then. They called the men’s version The Professional, just another name for Regular Boys, but men didn’t like saying Regular Boys. This is the haircut associated with the Kennedy brothers that so many wanted to emulate at the time. The Kennedy’s wore their hair slightly longer and messier but it was the same old Regular Boys haircut. Next in line of popularity is the Crew Cut which was considered clean and wholesome. The crew cut is achieved most quickly and easily with clippers and is still the mainstay of small town barbershops across the country. The cut was short, too short to comb, but longer on top than the sides so it was one step better than the classic Butch Cut. The butch cut was one short length over the entire head often associated with the military. If your hair ever got too long for your parent’s liking and you put up a fuss the big threat was ” Go to the barbershop and get a butch…see how you like that”. Discussion over. One of the crazier haircuts for the time was The Flattop which I still think is cool. It is a type of crew cut but the top is level like a flat deck, or table-top. It was hard to maintain as it took thick hair to make it work right. It was popular in the early 60’s because Roger Maris, 61 homers in ’61, wore that style. You could also get the Flattop with Fenders which meant the sides would be combed staight back to give the impression of classic fenders from a Cadillac while the top was still a Flattop…almost impossible to keep up every day. The best Flattop with Fenders was worn by Jerry West of the LA Lakers…it was a classic.
Then one day something radical happened in the barbershops of America. In the mid-60’s two new pictures were added to the wall. We couldn’t believe our eyes, we never imagined there could be be more than six types of haircuts…the times were a changin’. One new cut was the Mop-Top which was arguably the most iconic men’s hairstyle of the 60’s. The mop-top was popularized by the Beatles and further emulated by rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and Herman’s Hermits. The mop-top was a haircut that sported long bangs that grazed the eyebrows in front and hung down to hit the shirt collar in back. It was thought of as long and radical at the time but looking back it was really quite well kept and short by the time the 70’s hit. The second new haircut was the Afro. When growing up in practically all-white town, the Afro wasn’t a big hit. It did cause a lot of conversation but the cut was primarily for Blacks popularized by Black Power and Women’s Rights . Angela Davis, a political activist in the 60’s, had the premier Afro of all-time. The new ABA players also helped usher in this new look, even Dr. J sported one with the NY Nets. After 1965 all hell broke loose and picking a haircut just didn’t matter. Grow it long and don’t ever cut it was the style, ” Gimme a head with hair…”. Stylists have now replaced barbers for the most part and instead of pictures of haircuts to choose from on the wall, there are scenes from Paris. The prices have skyrocketed which doesn’t bother me if I could just sit down and get a perfect haircut.
I was 11-years old and had never been to a concert before. My very first experience was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in August,1964. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life for many reasons. I was among the hundreds of thousands of kids caught up in Beatlemania. They had just come to the US and played on the Ed Sullivan show in February of the same year. The Beatles were it, what every young kid was waiting for, a great new sound from across the ocean. Every time a Beatles song came on the radio we would stop what we were doing and listen to the song. In Los Angeles there were only two AM radio stations that would constantly play the Beatles, KRLA & KHJ. AM radio on a transistor…sounds like a joke now. The Beatles were huge and the chance to see them live was every kids dream. The ticket prices were like $8 – $15 and my father was able to get four. We took my sister and her friend who were both 14-years old, prime Beatle age, and my father and me. I was just a tag-a-long but glad to be along for the ride. My sister was beyond just a fan, she worshipped the Beatles and their mop-cut hairstyles. We had bought every Beatles 45-single and album and knew the words to each song by heart. Her room was full of Beatle’s posters and her top Beatle was Paul as was true with the majority of the girls. George was my favorite because he played the lead guitar. My mother actually took me shopping for a groovy outfit to go to the concert in. I ended up with green wide-wale cords, a paisley shirt, and a belt about 2-inches thick. I thought I was the bomb. I had never been to a theater the size of the Hollywood Bowl which sat 18,700 and I found it overwhelming. Our seats were in the middle somewhere and around me were 18,000 teenagers, or so it seemed. It was mostly groups of young girls with some boys and parents sprinkled in. As the Bowl filled up so did the anticipation. When someone in charge took to the stage to try and settle everyone down, just the mention of the word Beatles set everyone off in to a frenzy, exact opposite effect of what he was trying to do. The Beatles took the stage around 9:30pm and were met with hysterical shrieking like I had never heard before or since 50-years later. It’s hard to describe how actually loud and high pitched the screaming was…it actually hurt. It was only a sound thousands of young girls screaming at the top of their lungs could produce. I was frozen. My sister was in tears by the first song and there were actually some girls that had fainted from the excitement, this was something special. The shrieking was so loud that the Beatles singing could barely be heard but it was enjoyed. The Hollywood Bowl had a water moat in front of the stage back then and girls were jumping in to the water to try to reach their heroes. They were also trying to climb the high walls to get a better view. The Bowl’s security force had never seen anything like this but did a good job in making sure noone got hurt. I just stood there in awe and watched and listened to all that was going on around me. I could faintly tell what song the Beatles were playing but could not make out the words. Their songs back then were just over 2-minutes long which was standard for AM radio play. They played their monster hits like She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist and Shout, A Hard Day’s Night…a total of 12-songs. John tried to speak between a couple songs but to no avail. Singing was difficult to hear, talking was impossible. And Instamatic Kodak cameras were going off everywhere. Too bad the flash capability was about only two yards. Stretchers were being carried up and down the aisles as I stood in amazement and listened to the girls scream out each Beatle by name, Paul, George, John, and Ringo. As the concert ended girls immediately began rushing the stage, my sister and her friend included. This was the only part of the concert that came close to dangerous. They rushed the Beatles off the stage and into a waiting car which was absolutely mobbed by more fans. The roof and hood actually caved in. We reunited with my sister and began making our way out with girls still in tears and crying for more. The experience was both fantastic and eye opening. My ears actually were ringing for the entire night afterwards. Being caught in the middle of such hysterics was an adrenaline rush and seeing and hearing thousands of teenage girls collectively going insane over the same four people is a memory that will last forever. What amazes me is to think this whole experience lasted just slightly over 30-minutes. The Beatles hit the stage at 9:30pm and were done a little after 10pm after performing 12-songs. When your frozen in time, time takes on a new dimension. I am very thankful that I was there for the Beatles first American tour, I just wish that I had saved my ticket.
After attending my 40th class reunion in 2012 I came to several conclusions. The first is that women for the most part take better care of their bodies than men do. The amount of overweight men to overweight women was like 70% men, 30% women. There is is also the balding ratio which is 100-to-0. So you basically have overweight, balding men mingling with the wives of Beverly Hills. Women win the appearance contest. The next conclusion I can make is that people get nicer as they get older. The first 10-year reunion we were all near 28-years old. Half of the guys were still trying to see how messed up they could get at the bar while the other half were boring the crap out of anyone who would listen about how successful they were. The girls were dressed to impress as if to say ” You should have paid more attention to me in high school, I’m hot”. Some of the women had started families by then and their conversations were baby talk. I can appreciate it now but then it just sounded like jibberish, ” You had a baby , great, excuse me while I get another drink”. People still stayed in the same groups they had in school and the reunion was heavy drinking and partying. I remember leaving the 10th reunion wondering if I sounded like as big of an asshole as those I had just left…probably so since I had a pretty good hangover the next day. The 20th reunion now rolls around and everyone is about 38-years old, the height of consumption. We still had the usual barflys but the discussions were less slurred and more materialistic. The men and a good percentage of women would just throw in your face about how much they had acquired in terms of job status, homes purchased, cars bought, and how their children were destined to be the next president. Everyone’s lives were just perfect and the more people that new about it , the better. This reunion also brought out the physical changes that go on for 20-years between 18 and 38. Some of the guys were packing on the pounds fast, hairlines were reclining and some of the women looked like they had put a lot of miles on. The majority of us were married with children by then and those that weren’t hooked up immediately. Some had already been married and divorced by then and could usually be found near the bar smoking a cigarette. I stayed away from the bar for that reunion and it was a real eye opener to be sober as nearly everyone else around you got drunker. Discussions went from materialistic to flat out obnoxious. Trips to Europe, second homes at the beach, investment opportunities…it just went on and on until everyone was so drunk that by the end of the night we were boring each other. Big change for the 30 year reunion…it’s like everyone had taken a nice pill before going. People were glad to see one another again and the focus was not seeing how many drinks you could put down but how life was for each other at 48. The discussions were polite and usually started with people asking how each other was doing rather than let me tell you how great I’m doing. The majority had kids that were now past the baby stage and in their teens or early 20’s. There was no pretending each kid was going to be a US Senator…people were actually willing to discuss problems they were having in raising children. There were more divorces and sadly some deaths by then. We danced to early 70’s music, which seemed kind of awkward in 2002. The men clearly had not danced since high school, only the women had any rhythm left, but it was fun. At 48 you have clearly set your path in life and it was interesting to share the experience with others. People were actually interested in what you had to say and alcohol wasn’t needed to get the conversation going. The crowd was also smaller than the first two which saddened me a little…I guess at 48 you have lived much longer since high school than before it. People had also moved away from the town our high school was in and it wasn’t a priority to travel across the country for a weekend. A few more had passed away but for the most part I could recognize everyone without name tags. It was a nice evening. The crowd for the 40th reunion was smaller yet, but the kindness of most of my classmates came shining through. People were happy to see one another at 58 and the discussions were genuine and sincere. Our children were now married or going to their own high school reunions and it was a time to look back and laugh at some of the antics we had pulled when we were 18…it seemed quite distant. Spouses no longer came to the reunions as it is terribly boring not to know anyone and listen to story after story about your husband’s or wife’s high school memories. Many weren’t married to their original spouse anymore while others were celebrating 30+ years of marriage…it didn’t matter, now was not a time to judge. I think everyone in the room had one or two of life’s curveballs thrown at them by now. We were just happy to see one another. The great thing about reunions is that you know the person you are talking to can relate to the timing of your stories as you really have a group of people at the exact same age…quite different than any other social setting. The next reunion comes in 2022 and we we all be 68. I’m sure the group will be smaller but the kindness shown towards one another even greater.
Do schools still have dances for their students? When I was in Jr. High & High School they were a big deal, the social event that you didn’t want to miss. I’m not talking about proms but just school sponsored dances for no particular reason. In 6th-8th grades the dances were held either at school or at the YMCA. Different clubs or teams could sponsor them and make some money for their cause. They also had to do all the preparations. Sometimes we had live bands, other times records (33-LP’s) were played. Actually the quality of music played would suck by today’s standards but it was what we had and it sounded good at the time. The dances gave us a chance to get our non-school dance threads on and get acquainted with the opposite sex. The get acquainted part didn’t really happen until the dances were half-way over. The first half was boys on one side and girls on another just waiting for the first brave pair to hit the dance floor. The thought of being the first was unbearable no matter what your friends said they would pay you, which they would never pay even if you did dance. It was an exciting time, the music was great during the 60’s and 70’s, and I knew every song by heart. Finally a boyfriend-girfriend couple would hit the dance floor thus opening the gates for the masses to begin also. I was always impressed with girls who didn’t care about being asked to dance and just went on the dance floor with a group of girls. Girls are better dancers than guys, always have been. I would generally tuck my paisley shirt into my wide-wale cords with thick leather belt and get the courage to dance by the halfway point. I was nervous as hell for the first dance but you feel better if the girl says yes and even better once your on the dance floor. We would stand about 2-3 feet apart from one another and flail our arms and bodies to the beat of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin or whatever group was popular at the time. It wasn’t that we couldn’t touch one another, it was just the hippiesh dance style, which was actually no style at all…Freedom baby. When I was in 7th grade I was in the skateboard club, yes there was even a club for that. Back then we had a wood shop where boards could be cut-out rather than buying them. We decided to throw a dance and named it the “MOVING FLICK” as we got the AV club to have movies showing on the walls during the dance, semi Andy Warhol style. I made about 5-posters one night to advertise the dance and had them up before school started the next day. I got called into the vice principal’s office the same morning and noticed all my posters I had made were in his office also. He asked me to read my poster and I said ” THE MOVING FLICK” but what I hadn’t noticed in making the posters is that the poster paint had bled between the the L & I in FLICK making it read “THE MOVING FUCK”. He was extremely pissed off and all my work got trashed by the end of 1st period. Fortunately some of the others in the club had made better posters and the dance was on. The highlight of each dance was the Dance Contest where all the couples would start off on the dance floor and one by one they would be eliminated until you had a winner. I actually one a contest once and the prize was a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. My heart was pumping and I was feeling super good as I had won with a girl I was secretly in love with. The whole bubble burst at the end of the night when I took my friends advice and asked her out to KFC to claim our prize…can you imagine that, asking a girl out to a drive-thru fast-food restaurant, when you can’t even drive. She politely said “NO, my mom won’t let me go out on dates” which I interpreted as ” No Way Jose”, but I guess it worked out for the best.
Then came High-School and we had dances after every home football game on Friday Night. They were a blast and a must to be seen at. It was like Sixteen Candles in real life and again it started with girls on one side and guys on the other but after a couple good songs the dance floor was filled. We danced the night away until some teacher turned on the lights and told us to go home. I guess the teachers weren’t excited about getting dance duty. Dances were a great part of growing up and meeting girls in a controlled environment. If you really wanted to get to know a girl just ask her to dance to Iron Butterfly’s, In-a-gadda-da-vida, the song that lasts 20-minutes, you could hear her whole life story by then. It was so much easier to dance with girls that were talkers as I was more of a listener. By our Junior Year in High School most of us had girlfriends so finding a dance partner wasn’t the painstaking problem that it was in earlier years. By our Senior year we found ways to smuggle alchohol into the dances so it became easier to talk to girls. I really enjoyed the school dances and wonder if they are still happening or if they have gone by the wayside. My three children all went to a private Christian school and dances weren’t allowed which I found extremely foolish. I also felt sorry that my kids couldn’t enjoy social dances like I had. Every kid should have to go through the sweaty palms, dry mouth ordeal of asking someone of the opposite sex if they would like to dance.