Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s



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I quickly gave up on Home Economics. That left only Education, though I'd never wanted to be a teacher.


Letters from Penn State - October 1962

10-27-1962
 

Upcoming Sewing Test, continued

This afternoon I went to see the Artists Series play "The Matchmaker". It was wonderful, enough to make me itch for when I can be [living] in New York and see more plays. The star, Sylvia Sidney, played Auntie Mame when it went on the road. She was very good; they were all good. Tomorrow I'm going over to the library to see if I can get it to read. It certainly stirs up the old stage fever! The play started at 3:30, ended at 6:00, and we barely made it back for dinner, which they stop serving at 6:15. I was assigned to work this evening, but I got a substitute, Marge Hoover. She is getting married on February 8 and wants to sub all she can to get extra money to start out on. I never used a sub before and don't intend to do it again if I can help it, but I'd sacrifice a meal's earnings to see that play again any time.

More on the money line, in a way. Does this letter sound mercenary? Rita and Kathy have decided to try for jobs in Ocean City next summer. I talked to Carol about it and she said she had been thinking about it too. So I wrote to the Ocean City and Atlantic City chambers of commerce. A reply from Atlantic City came yesterday, referring me to four employment agencies. I haven't heard yet from Ocean City. What do you think of this?

The job that sounds good to me is the College Board but it is such a chancey thing. Upon closely examining this Mademoiselle College Board contest that I was going to enter that could net me a "job" on their staff for the month of June, I find that all this year's winners were seniors. I suspect they give preference to the upper class, since they recruit permanent personnel from the winners, the guest editors. I may still enter, the deadline is November 30.

The Association of Women Students (AWS) served cider and pretzels during the Hallmark Hall of Fame last night, so naturally everyone jammed down in the rec room to eat and watch "Teahouse of the August Moon". It was very good. Did you see it? I got down there early, equipped with my learn-how knitting book and yarn. I am finally starting those mittens I bought the blue yarn for that lay around on my bookcase for months. A girl in the dining hall who knits gorgeous sweaters is going to help me if I hit any rough spots.

I have about a ton of ironing to do that is cluttering up our armchair so had better get at it. Don't enjoy your vacation too much without me, but have a good time.

11-3-1962
 

Sorority?

Gee, the postcards from Cape Hatteras make me wish I were there! Daddy, thanks for checking on my hotel. It is still in my future plans. It is snowing here now, a very wet snow. Practically rain. I wonder if it will dampen the spirits of many of the football-goers. It is now 1:30, kickoff time. I just got back from working lunch. I think I'll listen to the first half on the radio and just go over on my bike in time for the Blue Band halftime show.

It's hard to believe it's November already. I have just four more full school weeks to go. The last day of classes is Monday, December 3, when the classes that were supposed to meet on Thanksgiving will make up their time. But I have no classes to make up that day. However, I have my Sociology exam scheduled for Tuesday, December 4. I don't know when my others are scheduled for. Some subjects are set for as late as Thursday, Dec. 6. They started this business of having the exams after the end of the term when they switched from semesters to terms. There isn't enough time during the term for exams, they say. But this means that the term is really longer than ten weeks and our vacation isn't so long. Unfair! So I'm not sure yet the exact day when I can come home.

I haven't seen Carol since Tuesday evening, but at the time she was counting on going home this weekend. I don't know if she got a ride. A guy named Joe called in answer to her "ride wanted" on the HUB bulletin board, but she was out. So I don't know if she still is here or not. I'll call her tonight. DeDe and Bernice, Carol's roommate, are both rushing sororities. We have talked about, if they both are pledged, rooming together for the spring term when they leave us for the sorority suites. Rita is rushing too, also Wendy Walters and Becky Shelton, two other girls in McKee I knew from the summer. The sorority open-houses start next Sunday. I don't feel the slightest desire to join a sorority. McKee and West Halls get more beloved every day. Everything happens at West Halls. We find models of Cuba and the bomb on the quadrangle lawn on the way to breakfast, and there is an effigy of Maryland hung up in a tree over there now. Our little community guards the lion, and girls from McKee supply the music to keep up the spirits of the guards. They'll have to pry me out of West Halls. I never want to live any place else. DeDe is actually looking forward to pledging a sorority in Pollock! She liked it there much better. Everyone to their own taste...

Did I tell you, I got a B in my Sociology test? And yesterday I got back another B in English. My CLTX was mostly essay. I hope I get at least a C in it. I wasn't so concerned until Thursday, when I talked to a woman at Division of Counseling.

I want to switch into Music Education. I know I'll be happy there and I am not happy in Home Economics. CLTX is the most uninteresting subject I have. I've met a girl in McKee, Peggy Shobert, who is in Mu Ed. It certainly sounds good to me. I will have gone through two terms with the Home Ec department and have taken this no-credit course to find out what it is all about. Next term, all my courses are Home Ec. If I go through them too, I will lose a lot of time. I went to see Dr. Fishburn, the dean of music, and he said I would probably do very well in the music curriculum. He sent me to the DOC. The counselor there, Mrs. Moon, also agreed that I might be happier in music, and said that if I make a 3 average this term to bring up my 1.7 of last term, then I can switch directly into MuEd instead of spending any time in DOC. Most of my courses so far are credit transferable. Anyway, nothing more will be done about this until I get my final grades back.

Ice skating is a wonderful class. I speed out there on my trusty bike and it doesn't take any time at all. The classes are coeducational. We have two teachers, a young man and woman, who are both professional skaters and a joy to watch. The rink is open in the evenings for 35 cents and your matric card. The public is admitted for 75 cents. I haven't gone over for that yet. Rita did, last night. She says it's pretty crowded and lots of fun.

The score is now 7-3, in the second quarter. Maryland is ahead, of all things! I better get over there and add my loyal support.

P.S. - I am sure I did not pass the practical exemption test. Mrs. Lawson practically told me so. Please do not think this had much to do with my plans to switch curriculums. I started talking to people about the college change last week. That evening of the test was rather ghastly. I'll tell you about it in my next letter.

11-9-1962
Evening

The Dastardly Sewing Test

I got my paycheck today and am sitting down here in the typing room waiting for my celebration order from Herlocher's to arrive. I tried to find someone to split a pizza with me, but no luck. So Wendy ordered a hoagie and I ordered a hamburger. My paycheck was for 15.97 after taxes. I got 3.45 deducted for income tax. Cindy Parker, who was in line ahead of me, got 27.93 and only thirteen cents deducted. It depends on how you signed up when you started working, whether you classified yourself as a 0 or a 1. I'll make a haul when I get my income tax refund.

Carol is bedded down in Ritenour. She went in Wednesday evening, in the ambulance. She has the flu; it's a regular epidemic. Her roommate has it too. I went to visit her this afternoon. She is living on the sunporch, which has been converted into a four-bed ward. The other three girls in it have the same thing. Carol has a fever and can't keep anything down. I think she said she might be out by Sunday. She says the food is always cold, and not particularly appetizing to her, as it is the same kind of heavy stuff they serve in the dining halls. She wants jello. Only once did they give her anything else; that was last night when her fever went way up and they brought her ginger ale. I brought her a Seventeen magazine.

Berkeley castle [on Ocracoke Island] sounds very romantic. I'm glad to know its story. Since the guy owns another one around the bay, maybe he won't mind selling this one to me later. Your vacation was fabulous. And did Christopher [brother] get out of a whole week of school? You never took autumn vacations while I was available!

I got another B plus in English. It's very nice to get B's, but it's also frustrating to never once get an A. I haven't gotten an A in any test or quiz in any subject here. My next Sociology test is Wednesday. I also have a report due then on my independent reader, "The Family in Various Cultures". Still no news on the CLTX.

Skating is the most wonderful class I've ever had. I'm beginning to doubt now if I will pull a B in Phys. Ed. because I'm pretty sure I won't make an A in skating to pull up my low fencing mark. Some of the kids seem to pick up the tricks so fast! Starting Monday my evenings will be spent at the ice rink. This weekend I've got to read Soc. In skating I am in the upper middle group. They recently divided us into five sections instead of the original four. Mrs. Tammon teaches the two lower groups. Bob Long, a seventh term Journalism student, teaches the upper three. He isn't too good or anything! Our group is now on spirals (gliding on one foot in an arabesque position, which requires grace I don't possess), back cross-overs (skating backwards around in a circle) and hockey stops (stopping by turning sharply with your skates close together). None of these can I do half decently. I'm beginning to wonder how I ever got in this group. But I don't want to leave! Bob Long would be inspiration enough for any girl!

As I told you in my last letter, the sewing test was a nightmare. I still haven't heard anything more about it. I chickened out on the plaid after practicing laying it out in the dorm, and bought some plain blue cotton. When I laid it out [in the exam room], Mrs. Lawson checked it and it seems only one of my ends was straightened. Mrs. Lawson snipped it and tore to see if the other end was really straight (after I had everything pinned on) and of course, it wasn't. I went to pin in my darts and it seems I pin the wrong way. You start from the point, not the ends. I went to the machine, a gorgeous complicated new Singer, and spent a good amount of time just reading the instructions on how to thread the darn thing. Then, of course the tension on mine was loused up and Mrs. Lawson had to fix it for me, shocked that I didn't know how and telling me that this is what is taught in the CLTX course that I was trying to get exempt from.

Then she asked me why I wanted to be exempt, since there seemed to be so much I needed to learn. I always feel like a worm on a pin around her. I see no reason why everyone shouldn't try to pass such tests, and of course anyone likes to skip a course if they can. This is the second time I've come close to tears with her, the other being when I had to go see her about the mid-term warning slip last term. If I ever had a class with her I would have a nervous breakdown and I am not exaggerating. Undoubtedly she is a factor in my determination to switch to Music Ed. But she isn't the main thing. I just don't care much about Home Ec at all and every time I think of being in MuEd the old spirit goes up. Teaching, if necessary, is not so bad any more. Sometimes I really want to be one.

I still haven't heard anything from Ocean City, New Jersey. I have names and addresses for Ocean City, Maryland, but nobody thinks much of it. Rita and Kathy have decided they would rather work in a camp and Carol said today that she might be homesick and want to stay at home next summer. I told her that by next term she wouldn't at all. I hope somebody wants to go. A girl who worked at Cape Cod last summer says the job turnover is very great and you can go in June and get one. She had three different ones. I'm going to write another letter to New Jersey.

I have to work breakfast tomorrow so want to get to bed. Oh, DeDe and I had a guest over-nite last night, a high school junior named Sandy from Pittsburgh who is here for a Home Ec convention. It was lots of fun showing her around. I think she is sold on Penn State. She is interested in clothing.

I have to work lunch tomorrow too, which means I get to the game late again. Carol will miss it entirely, and here it is, the last home one. She tells me Barb R. is flying home for Thanksgiving. Barbara Fogarty is coming home too. And the dining hall is serving a special dinner. This mainly means the addition of juice with sherbet in it. We had a special dinner for Halloween too. They turn the lights low and have candles on the table; that time it was a black and orange color scheme. And they got the dining-hall inter-com fixed. We now have music with every meal.

Rita just came in from the West Halls record hop. She says it was pretty dead tonight. She is ordering out now, a peanut butter milkshake, of all things.

I'm pretty sure I can come home on Tuesday Dec. 4. Carol has an English test on Thursday that she'll have to stick around for, but I don't want to stay any longer than is necessary. Come and get me! Christmas is in the air here already. The stores want to get the college kids to do their shopping here before they take off for the holidays, and decorations are going up.

11-18-1962
8:00 pm

Roommate Troubles

Pardon this awful lapse in communication. The past week was pretty thick. Tuesday night I did not go to bed at all, and spent two days recovering. Wednesday afternoon we had the second Soc. test. We got the number grades back on Friday. I got 137. The highest mark was 169. There were fourteen kids with either the same mark as mine or higher. So I don't think I did as well as in the last one. And Mr. Foreman told us that he hoped the marks would be so good we wouldn't have another before the final! I sure hope we have another one.

Another B in my fable for English. And a C in my first CLTX test. I just finished a little paper for that class, on the effect of the Crusades on fashion. Next Friday I have to give an oral report on Elias Howe's contribution to the world of textiles. Testing in skating starts tomorrow.

I'm afraid we'll have to give up on slacks by mail. THe green ones are very pretty, but they are too tight and too short. I wanted them because I have to wear them for skating and I'm getting rather tired of the one pair of suede slacks three times a week. The corduroy ones aren't long and supple enough to take the bending of skating without riding up and staying up. However, it's only sixteen days more and there's hardly any point in sending them back. I can look forward to having them during Christmas vacation. That really is pretty material. Thank you.

On the subject of clothes, I'm sorry I didn't say anything before about the blouse. I thought I had. Anyway, I like it a lot and it fits perfectly. Goes well with the slacks, too.

When Pete Yestrumskas came through the line the other day, he asked me if I wanted a ride home for Thanksgiving. He has a Volkswagen bug. I said no, but asked him what day he is going home at the end of the term. He said he wasn't sure yet but would let me know. He said the only trouble with taking kids home at term breaks is that the luggage piles up so fast and his car is only a little thing. I've been thinking about that too. I'll be home for a whole month and what should I bring? At first I thought just the little green suitcase and the traincase. But now I think, gee, a whole month...

Last Saturday evening right after dinner I went downtown and was walking along College Ave. when who should I bump into but David Harris and Ricky Williams. It's really funny to see kids from your own town like that who are only here for the day and yet see kids who go here regularly, like John Arcangelo and Steve Polednak, only once a term.

Friday night I went skating in the evening for the first time. It was fun, but what a jam! I wanted to practice the things we are learning in class but the tide was so heavy all I did was skate around and around to the music. Then yesterday Polly, who lives on my floor, said she'd seen me around with my skates and would I like to go with a bunch of kids that night (Sat.)? So I said okay. It turned out to be the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Social, which is a group I've never heard of before. But everyone in it is certainly sold on it. It seems like every time I turn around someone is trying to push me into some church organization. We had refreshments at the Home Ec living center afterward.

The kids in this one mostly all go to the University Bible Church outside of town; a bus takes them there on Sunday mornings. It's supposed to be a non-denominational Protestant group. But the kids all talk like one of those "Amen" religions. Part of the goings-on at the living center was an invitation to anyone who wanted to give a "testimonial" to get up and speak. Four kids did. They told whatever was in their hearts that they wanted to share with all of us. It reminded me of a Mountain Brook [summer camp I attended in grade school] kind of thing. And there were requests for us to remember certain people in our prayers.

All the kids hold their own weekly Bible discussions in their dorms. I went to Polly's once. One of the girls announced last night that a girl in her discussion had become a Christian last week. At this, one of the boys actually did say "Amen"! Polly told me that one reason she likes this group is that they study the Bible. She says her Methodist church at home is getting too far away from it, that the minister preaches in terms of modern social problems. Well, that's the way I think it should be done.

The last time I talked to Carol she was tentatively planning to come home this Friday to surprise her mother on her birthday. So in case it does come through and is supposed to be a surprise, don't tell anyone.

I'm scheduled to work for Thanksgiving dinner and am very glad of it. I want to see the workings of the kitchen in the fabulous dinner everyone tells me this is going to be. They have a buffet table out in the middle of each of the dining rooms with lots of side dishes and relishes on it. You're allowed seconds on everything, even turkey. I just figured it out and I work about ten hours a week. This is due to my lousy schedule. A lot of the kids work more, but all my MWF classes conflict with meals. When I make out my schedule for Winter term in Ed, I hope, I will watch out for these things. And also sign up for the other Social Security category. We go through the whole business of getting hired again each term. Lately there has been a big turnover. Hardly any of the kids I started out with are still working, at least with the girls this is true. It seems conditions were much pleasanter under the old regime. The present supervisor is new this year. Not knowing what I'm missing, I'm perfectly happy. In love with it, in fact.

DeDe and I have been getting on each other's nerves lately. It is mainly over a subject which I think she is very unreasonable about. Of course, she thinks I'm terribly unreasonable. She bought a 200-watt lightbulb for the ceiling to replace the 100 that everybody else has and wants me to sleep with it on. She stays up till two or three several nights a week and says she has to have that overhead light on to stay awake. After she bought that pretty desk lamp. I tell her other girls go to the typing room or the lounge to study after hours; no, she likes to study lying on the bed. Every night the tension builds, and every night I politely ask her to switch on her desk lamp when I turn out the overhead, and every night she acts as if I were the most selfish person alive and makes such comments as "bullshit", but does switch lights. Honestly! Barb and I never stayed in the room or kept the light on if the other went to bed. We always went someplace else. And I'm not even asking DeDe to leave. 200 watts in the middle of the ceiling is just too much. I wish the darn thing would burn out.

It's after eleven now. I've got to get some sleep. Good night.

 
 
 
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