Thursday, November 8, 2012

70th birthday--whoopee!

I was born 70 years ago.  I am one of 9 children.  My mother and father had 7, my father remarried and had an additional 2.  No, we aren't Catholic.  One of my mother's brothers told me when I was about 22 that my parents were not sex fiends, they were merely inept.  Not what you want to hear about your parents.  Even today I really don't want to go there.

 I remember when I was in 10th grade world history class and we were listening to Edward R Morrow's recording (this was 1957 so it was a record) "Where were you.... on December 7, 1941".  The entire class broke up.  Our teacher was a single man from Tennessee (we were in Maryland).  He was brilliant, but couldn't figure out why we were convulsed.  Then one of the braver of us (probably mouthy me) told him that our mothers were probably pregnant with us at Pearl Harbor--or shortly thereafter.  He turned crimson.  Looking back, I'd love to hear those old programs again because they were so evocative of "the moment."

My next momentous moment was when there was a ruling in Maryland about school integration.  My father's family was from Virginia and were not open-minded about race.  Our county had a miniscule minority population and had a state-of-art-school for "the negroes" ( for 1958).  The school board announced that the schools would be unified.  My father told me that his children wouldn't be attending an integrated school.   I told my father that I intended to go to college and that I couldn't not go to school.  I needed my senior year.  Honestly, I don't remember there being any black students in the 7-12 high school my last year there.  The previous year I had been a candidate for the student body president ( and didn't win), so I was aware of the demographics.  We're talking a small school--the graduating class in 1960 was a massive 53 members!

When I arrived at Appalachian State Teachers College in Boone, NC, having been delivered by my father's driving down interstate 81 through the mountains of Virginia, I discovered that I was one of 5 students from Maryland.  One male was a music major, I was the sole female--a library science major--and three football players from the Maryland-side of the DC  area.  I had as much in common with them as I had with my Southern fellow students.  I remember the first placement test I took in the library, I couldn't understand anything the person administering the test said.  It was only when everyone else started writing that I realized the test had started.  I also remembered that I failed the speech test because "I spoke too rapidly".  Duh!

There were 900 students in my freshman class.  They did the usual thing of telling us to look to each side.  Only 1 in 3 would graduate and I think that was the final percentage, sad though that sounds.  Everyone knew everyone else on the campus which is a great insulating security.  And I think a plus for many of us from small towns.  

Boone was and still is (it's in the Northwestern mountains of North Carolina) in the back of the beyond in terms of transportation.  I used to have to take a Trailways bus from Boone to Washington, DC, where I had to change at about 2 am from one terminal  in the middle of the city to Greyhound to go into Maryland. Then I'd get off about 5:30am on the side of Interstate 40 outside my hometown of North East.

 One of my most startling memories is when I was going back to school from Md and we had stopped in Danville, VA, in 1962? at about 2 or 3 am. I stumbled off the bus to go to the lavatory in the bus station.  I headed for the nearest door and was stopped immediately inside by a loud voice telling me to leave and go next door.  I had entered the "colored" lounge.  I apologized and said I only wanted a bathroom--this was the day of freedom riders and the black inhabitants were terrified that I was trying to "free" them.  Out I went to find the "white" restrooms.    After yesterday's election results, these memories are even more meaningful. 

I'll have more about needlepoint tomorrow, I promise!


  1. Happy day after birthday! And, yes, App is still on the back of beyond. The Big Kid graduated from there--and every time I had to bring him home from school, it was either sleeting, snowing, or pouring rain.

  2. Happy birthday! How the world has changed in our lifetimes....

  3. By the way, I often have to translate for my husband when the older locals here talk in our native tongue.