Fall of 1959
This was the beginning of my Sophomore year in High School. My subjects this year were: English/Literature, History, Geometry, Latin II, Home Ec., Band and Glee Club. I had no study hall and perfect attendance.
The full skirts and "can-cans" were getting to be out of style and shirt waist dresses with rolled up sleeves and self belts were popular. I also had a couple of "choir boy" dresses with cinch belts. Mom would cut out the dresses, but I was learning how to do "darts", setting in sleeves, putting on collars, gathering or pleating the skirts, sewing on front "plackets" to make button holes, and of course, hemming the skirts. I could sew well on the treadle machine and I did my hemming in a blanket stitch. I was VERY neat! I made the button holes at school on an electric machine, using a "button holer", under the supervision of Kathryn Jones, my Home Ec, teacher.. She knew I was far more advanced in sewing than all of my other classmates, but she MADE me do all the other PRIMER routines. Boy was I bored in that class.
For Summertime, I made some really "cute" spaghetti strap sundresses, but I HAD to wear a jacket to church and school. While the "city girls" got their TAN at the Loogootee Pool, I got MY tan on a tractor plowing corn or putting up hay! I just took my shirt off, but DAD told me I HAD to get my shirt on when I worked close to the road. "OK DAD".....
School activities were sock hops, candy sales, band functions, basketball games, car washes, and house parties. I got to have a BIG barn yard party. We had horse shoe pitching, food on a hay wagon, corn shocks, and music on the record player. NO SMOKING, near the barns! "OK Dad".....
Mr. Hamilton was our new Band Director and we had summer practice in the evenings. That was OK for the "early birds" but it really cut in to me doing my "farm chores", as I had to do my work in the heat of the day. We entered MARCHING band competitions and by now, I'm carrying the BIG bass drum and "keeping the beat". Man, I used to be STRONG and had LOTS OF ENERGY. Being a farm girl, who had pitched lots of bales of hay and straw, I had more stamina than most. AND, you didn't want to "mess with me" as I could probably "punch you out" with a smile on my face!
The DATING WORLD opened up to me and Mom and Dad let me date, some boys from church (in groups). Gene Keiffner, who was atleast 5 years older than me, and he drove a 1959 Ford, re-tractable hard top convertible with a Continental Kit. Talk about a L-O-N-G car! Eddie Joe was still around, and Bill Carrico, in a '51 blue Ford. Come to think of it, I probably liked the cars as much as the "boys". Sometimes dates consisited of pairing up before choir practice to play several games of ping pong and walking over to Nigg's grocery store for an ice cream. That kept LUTHERN's' with LUTHERN's -------
Sometimes after church on Sunday, boys would ask my Dad, even before they asked ME, if they could drive over and pick me up for a Sunday night movie date! Usually I got to go. I always had to do my chores, get my homework done, and be home by 10:30pm. I'd awaken easily the next day. Once in awhile I could stay out until 11:00pm, as we all had chores to do before sundown.
Dates might just be "cruising" and getting a coke or rootbeer. For the Jasper boys, they had to factor in the extra gas to drive to Loogootee to pick me up....HA! Most of the boys did not skate except Eddie Joe. He and I went to the Calumet often. I learned how to SLOW DANCE !!!!! And, with the Jasper guys, to German Waltz and polka. The Loogootee boys were not as good of dancers , nor did they roller skate.
When we were Sophomores, I learned how to DRIVE A CAR. Now I could drive an Allis Chalmers and Ford tractor, a stick shift on the floor of the pick-up truck, but now I am learning to drive a CAR with automatic transmission! Mr. George Williams is our instructor. This is another rite of passage.. I AM MOBILE. While I did not yet have a driver's license, I could drive with a learner's permit.
Our training included class room study, starting and backing up on the playground, and finally edging our way around the back streets and roads. to Shoals, the highway, and then Hindostan River and the Hindostan River Bridge. Parallel parking was no too hard for me as most farm kids could park between two trees pretty well anyway. I learned to park between straw bales in our barn lot.
Summer of '59
Uncle Nelson took us on a wonderful vacation to Niagara Falls. Again, Mom fried up a bunch of chickens so we could picnic along the way. It was in his 1959 two-tone green Oldsmobile. Twala Jean and I had our little suitcases packed with shorts and tops and one "full" skirt. We drove the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It was the first time we had seen a 4-lane highway. It was wonderful that Nelson was a professional truck driver, as he knew all the BEST roads.
I had my little aqua blue Kodak camera that Bernie and Marvel bought me, and I took several rolls of photos, IN COLOR. My first. Nelson got a new camera and he took SLIDE pictures and showed them often.
We drove through grape country in New York with grapes on both sides of the road. We stopped and bought fresh fruit.
We spent one night inTanawanda, New York. We ate in a REAL Italian restaurant with table cloths, napkins and all set very nicely. It was the BEST spaghetti and garlic bread, and my first SPUMONI ice cream. YUMMY! I have remembered that wonderful dinner all of my life. Spaghetti has never tasted like that again. What a special DATE with my uncle. He always wanted something nice for "his girls". I twirled my pasta lilke I had learned in Home Ec. class and spoke about my "restaurant" experience the next year when it was required for us to talk about "What we did over the Summer".
First we drove to Nagara Falls during the day time and walked the park and took pictures of Twala Jean and me "sitting on the railiing". We ate lunch there in the park overlooking the Falls. I do not remember where we spent the night on the U.S. side, but took pictures in color that evening. We stood in the mist and got wet. What an experience this all was. The ROAR of SO much WATER!!!! We country girls were in awe. The gardens were so full of beautiful bright flowers.
One of my favorite photos of myself was taken at the FALLS on the railing, wearing a navy full skirt with tiny polka dots and rows of white lace around the bottom, and a sewn in criniline. I wore a low neck collared blouse and belt to match the skirt. The next day we drove over the bridge and into Canada, going through customs and the Canadian Mounted Police. This was a bit scary for Twala Jean and me, but Nelson had this wonderful deep voice and answered the "border questions".
The Canadian side was absolutely beautiful. The gardens were very well kept with lots of trimmed shrubs and large evergreens. We visited the huge floral clock that ran by generated power from the Falls. We bought and sent postcards from Canada. We girls loved learning about Canadian money, as we did a currency exchange. I loved the chocolate candy bars. Oh they were delicious. We still had enough lunch meat to picnic in the park, but this time on the northern side. The view of the Falls from this side was the VERY best. Here we could see the HORSESHOE FALLS. It was incredibly beautiful by day, but SPECTACUALR by night with the colored lights. Nelson took more night pictures but also splurged and bought slides.
Twala Jean got bored easily and grumpy when she got WET with the mist, but not me. I revisited the FALLS in 1964, '83 and 1998, and always had my photo taken "by the Falls". It is truly a lovely wonder of the world.
While in Canada, we stayed all night in a TOURIST ROOM. It was Nine dollars. Nelson and Eldena slept in a room upstairs in a house, and we girls slept on chaise lounges in a screened in "sleeping porch".. It got cool at night and we had soft blankets. There were frisky little grey squirrels outside.
I bought a blue, stretchy swim suit and went in the Lake - Erie, I think. I remember the water being VERY cold, but the sand was so pretty.
There were no FAST FOOD restaurants. Uncle Nelson had a Coleman two burner stove. He'd make bacon and eggs in an iron skillet and a pot of coffee, We girls had chocolate milk from a glass bottle. We would picnic at lunch time and ate in a truck stop for a plate meal at supper. We girls would have hamburgers and French fries, of course, and before bedtime maybe some ice cream! I particularly remember the Howard Johson's between the dual lane Turnpike. What excitement to "pull in" to eat, and SOOOO many choices of flavors of ice cream! I would get SPUMONI, when I could. It had become my new "favorite" and I felt such a "hot shot" when I ordered it....!
This week long vacation memory has remained in my heart all of my life, and have ALWAYS looked forward to ANY road trip, be it near or far. I am forever grateful for the invitation to the WORLD.