Saturday, November 08, 2008

Growing Up in a Small Town

I've been thinking a lot about the way things were growing up. Life in a small town. I couldn't wait to get away from there, and now after visiting Don in his small town, I'd give anything to be back in one.

The town I grew up in was so small that you knew everyone. Of course, this wasn't always an advantage for a kid.

The discipline. If you got into trouble chances are that you'd get a spanking before you ever got home by one of the neighborhood mothers. Then your mother would be waiting at the door for you because she'd been given advanced warning of your misdeed. Two spankings for whatever it was you did. When I was 15, I got a speeding ticket about two blocks from the house (by one of the two cops in Sulphur) and Mom was waiting at the door for me. Heck, I didn't even have time to develop a good excuse!

Curfews. I never had a curfew, or I can never remember Mom and Dad saying to be home at a certain time. That's because every other kid in town had one. Or maybe it was because there was absolutely nothing to do after about 8:30 at night so you just went home. We had a movie theater in town for a few years, but the latest show ended about 6:00 at night. The Dairy Queen closed down about 30 minutes later. It think Kentucky Fried Chicken and a couple of gas stations were open a little later but there's only so much chicken you can eat while spending less than five bucks filling up your car.

Friday night. That was football night. We were the Golden Tornadoes. We had awesome football teams, nearly always getting in the state finals. I was in the band and was a majorette during football season. Yep, that's right, I was a band geek. Of course, back then most of the kids in our town were in the band, or the marching-dancing group, or on the football team. There probably weren't too many kids sitting in the student section because we were all participants in one way or another. Go, Tors!

Saturday night. Date night. If there wasn't a party at one kid's house or another, we went to a movie in Lake Charles. Those movies ran a little later. The problem with that was there was hardly any time to get home before the curfew. But there was usually food waiting when we got home. A quick phone call to parents to let them know at whose house we were eating, and then home 30 minutes later.

Sunday. Church. Of course, we attended for the right reasons, but it was also a time to see everyone in town. Most of the churches were within a few blocks of each other, so you'd practically see everyone in town on Sunday. This is why you hoped you were real good during the week because moms would stand around on the church steps talking after the service. Home to dinner. I grew up calling lunch "dinner" and dinner "supper." Being with Don and Gail a few weeks back reminded me of that. The largest meal of the day on the weekends was eaten at noontime or shortly after.

Visiting. Another thing I was reminded of at Don and Gail's. People just dropped by to chat for a few minutes. The coffee pot was always on; something sweet to eat was always around. I wonder if that went on everywhere or if it was just a Southern thing. You know, "calling" on folks. When Mom-the-nurse was working on the weekend, Dad and I went calling. When she was home, folks called on us. Kids sat around politely in the living room taking part in the visit. We didn't vanish to our rooms to play video games or watch TV or talk on the phone because those things either didn't exist then or weren't in our rooms. These visits were another reason all the kids hoped they were good that week.

Shopping. There were a couple of dress stores in my town and a couple of shoe stores. One dress store in particular was my favorite because I'd go in and try on things and she'd hold them for me. She'd call my mother, and Mom would swing by and get whatever she thought I needed. If Dad went, I'd get everything!! :) :) :) Shoes were a bit more of a problem. I had this real skinny foot and most stores didn't carry quad-A widths. Mom hated shoe shopping with me. She hated it so much that she'd even bribe friends and family to take me shoe shopping. Don remembered that!

Graduation. That was a fun night. First, I think the whole class went out to eat in Lake Charles. We were good because there were about a gazillion parents there. Then the city pool in Sulphur opened up for us and we swam until the wee hours, with a LOT of parents sitting around watching the shenanigans. Then back to Lake Charles to the beach to watch the sunrise. Were parents there? You betcha. I think I got home around 7:00 a.m. and slept for a couple of hours before folks started showing up to call. Exciting, huh? Senior picture. ROFLOL. Remember sleeping in curlers and Dippity-Do and teasing that hair?

College. LSU. Go Tigers. I was totally flabbergasted being in a huge town at a huge school. And there were hippies - genuine hippies. They wore bell bottoms and their hair was parted down the middle. At Christmas break I found a pair of bell-bottomed slacks, a shirt that tied up and exposed belly, and parted my hair down the middle. I really really wanted to be a hippie ... but Mom wouldn't let me! So my hippie stage lasted for two Sulphur.on Christmas break. Oh, well, I tried! But the really neat thing was having that LSU ID card. That was heady stuff. The first time I went home for the holidays, I got together with a bunch of high school friends and we went to a college bar in Lake Charles by the McNeese campus. They were checking IDs at the door. When they saw my LSU student card, they let me right in! Didn't even check my birth date. I was still underage but I went to LSU so I got in! Of course, I didn't drink - couldn't stand the stuff; still can't - but it was exciting all the same!

I was just thinking about these things last night and wanted to get them down. Don graduated 10 years before me, the late '50s - so I'm sure his stories of high school are much more exciting. Man, he's old!!!!!!!!!


JudyL said...

Oh, those darned Tors! Boo!! Go Rams!

Sounds like we could have been growing up in the same town. Oh, wait! We almost were! :)

That's exactly how I remember it all too. Thanks for a trip down Memory Lane.

Julia said...

Oh, if only things could be that way again. Not that there weren't any problems or conflicts, but it just seems that things were simpler, people had more respect for one another.
Thanks for sharing!

Lori in South Dakota said...

I still live in the same little town I was born in. Dinner and supper. People stopping in-having coffee and "a bite". Yes, all those things sound so familiar.

Anonymous said...

I was in the Toreadoras 10th grade. Such short skirts with gold satin drawers. We marched in N.O. Mardi Gras parade that year. It's a wonder we didn't freeze our fracus off! Remember Friday dresses? Have you been to any reunions? Itchin to be stitchin,
Jackie in La.

Vicki W said...

I grew up in a small town too and I hated every minute of it. I could live in any town now as long as there's UPS and high-speed internet! Do you every look back at your old pictures and try tp remember what you were thinking? My vision of my life was so off from what it really is - it's actually better!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I grew up in a small coastal Georgia town, and Mama taught at the school I went to (the entire time). Trust me, I couldn't get away with anything. LOL! That small town is a little bigger these days. But I still miss it and those days a lot. As with anything, there may have been some problems around. But I guess I really led a pretty sheltered, idyllic life.
I thank my parents often for loving me, protecting me, being strict with me and teaching me right from wrong. Yep, I've been blessed.
Thanks, Vicky, for sharing your memories with us, and stirring up some of our own. You've brought a smile to my heart. Eve in Ga

Mary ann said...

Your southern small town sounds very much like the Iowa small town I grew up in - only we had a Maid Rite instead of KFC. There is a lot to be said for small town life, and most of it is good. Very good. Thanks for the Memory Lane post.

Karen said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. How much more simple life was back then!

Lindah said...

What a cutie!
Dippity-do! I had forgotten about it. And sleeping on those big old curlers --maybe that is why I have neck problems today? :-)
I think I agree with some of your commenters that life was simpler then. sighhh
Thanks for the memories.

Perry said...

Don't tell me Don is old!! He graduated when I did, lol. However, our experiences were about the same in the late 50s as your were. We did get a tv in 1955. Thanks for writing this! It did remind me of a lot of things. One of these days I guess I will take a trip down memory lane, lol.

swooze said...

I loved your stories. I grew up in NY but had deep ties to the South. We did use the dinner, supper descriptions.

The visiting we did as well but it wasn't weekly. That is something I miss for sure.

Cowguy said...

Awesome post Vicky, loved it! You pretty much nailed small town life as it mirrored what I grew up with for the most part.

You sure had the Natalie Wood look going on there with that last pic.




zizzybob said...

I grew up in "the big city" just outside of Manhatten. Life was much the same as you recall with the only difference being everything stayed open later. My Oh My , I even had the same flip hairdo. Couldn't wait to move somewhere else either.

Maddie Can Fly said...

Love your high school photo -- you look so pretty (big hair and all - LOL). It's a Southern thing calling lunch dinner and dinner supper. These Yankees around me never know what meal I'm inviting them for (LOL)

whimzeestitches said...

What a great post Vicky! Loved reading all about small town Louisiana life - so different from today but reminds me of growing up in small town Long Island - I miss shopping main street. I've been getting over to Patterson, LA a lot lately - as close to small town life as I'll get today.

Edna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nan said...

I LOVE this post, Vicky! How sweet and simple were the days when you were growing up. My life was similar, but I lived in a much larger town, so the stores and movie theaters stayed open a bit longer! Love the photos, too! Thank you for taking us down your memory lane - I've enjoyed every minute of it.