Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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I don't want to be a teacher, though my parents thought it would be a good profession. If I get out of Music Education and become simply a Music major, I can finish college sooner.

Letters from Penn State - Sept. 1963

8:00 p.m.

The start of the fall term

I just finished unpacking, and the radio just gave a final blink and went off for good. It gave a few more spurts after you left, but now the light doesn't go on at all and I am stuck with it not working again, which really tees me off. I wish I knew someone going back. Maybe I'll run into some of the other Summit kids returning during the week and they can bring it.

The dining hall has all the same help and supervisors as last year. Talk about Old Home Week! And all the same kids are back (all the same boys, anyway; Lynne, Rita's roommate, and I are the only girls so far.) I am signed up to work every meal this week.

Rita and Lynne were going to spend the summer waitressing in Ocean City, I think I told you. Rita isn't back yet. I talked to Lynne and she says Rita, after all her enthusiasm, didn't last the season, and she left Lynne all alone with their apartment. Lynne says it was because the wages were low and the partying wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

I worked bread and butter tonight. Freshmen kept straggling in (the line was really slow, there being so few people here yet). They walk past the trays and silverware without seeing them, and then have to go back. I feel for them, a couple looked really lost, but I know they're going to love it here.

The dining hall is trying to cut down on help. Though the breakfast line still opens at seven, student workers don't start till 7:15, because the line is very slow the first quarter hour. And the milk machines have been taken out from behind the counters. If you want it, it's self-service out in the dining room. I'll bet that creates congestion in the dining room, I also think it will cut down on the amount of milk consumed, lots of kids would probably rather just pick up coffee than go get their own milk.

I went over to see Carol. Her fourth floor room has a wonderful view of the front Simmons courtyard. She was bushed from a long day of junior-residenting. Her first floor meeting is tonight at 9:30.

I'm going out for a while. I'll write again after I register.

Sun. eve

Block S Club

For an empty week this one has been busy enough. I'll be glad when classes start tomorrow just so everything settles down

I've worked every meal but two since I came. Thursday noon I missed because of band tryout and Saturday noon because of Block S.

You letter arrived and the money. I'm sure I will not need any more but am glad you sent that because I have seventeen dollars plus change outside of the music money till my first paycheck and don't have the Soc 30 books yet. The radio is working again but I haven't had it on for any length of time to see if it will stay. Maybe something is just gradually going out in it.

Résumé of my week:

Monday was spent going back and forth to the dining hall and practicing the sax and the sight-singing.

Tuesday I went to Dr. Fishburn to make up my winter term schedule. I told him I'd probably need a drop-add slip because I was counting on getting in Music 83 this term. He put up an argument, said 1 and 2 were prerequisites, but I told him that I'd talked to Mr. Gullo about it. Then he said he wouldn't work further on my schedule till I tried out for Mr. Gullo and found out for sure if I could. Well, I'd been planning on waiting till tomorrow for that, to practice more, but I went back to Carnegie, put in a mad half hour, and went to see Mr. Gullo. He okayed it, and I've taken the first step in consolidating courses.

Wednesday I registered, and got up the courage to sign the band tryout list. Practiced the rest of the day.

Thursday at 11:30 I tried out. Those tryouts are really bad. Coming in I met Denny Olenwine, who was the second alto last year in concert band. He said Horrors, another alto, etc., and showed me where to warm up and I told him he had nothing to worry about in my case, but he hung around anyway. The tryouts are in Mr. Dunlop's office; the kids who are really anxious about what chair they sit hang around both doors to hear kids on their instrument try out.

Mr. Dunlop looked at my card (you fill out an info card before you go in) and circled MU ED in red as though this were a very important factor. Then he had me play parts of two marches and asked if I played any other instruments. He closed with saying he'd see what he could do. I don't know how encouraging a statement that is but I hope it isn't much. I'd really rather not be in it this year. Mostly because I don't want charity because I'm in music. But also because it would take away hours I can work in the dining hall and I'm determined to make the contact lens payment. Also because it would make fifteen credits (I could only count thirteen; I can't count choir this term either) and that's pretty heavy.

Then, I know I'd like to be in it no matter what. I don't know what I want. The list will be posted by Wednesday noon.

Thursday afternoon Carol and I went up to Eisenhower for choir tryouts. We signed up to sing for this Sunday's service. Mr. Gordon is really nice and has a wonderful sense of humor, like Mr. Beach. He told me I'm a soprano, that I probably got put with altos long ago just because I can read, but he's keeping me as an alto anyway.

Friday night I went to the movies with Kristi and Anne, two girls up the hall, to see "The V.I.P.s". It was good, even though the Daily Collegian reviewer panned it.

Saturday I went to the game with Carol and her roommate Becky with a Block S pin on. Those pins are hard to find; the membership sales are none too public. Carol knew a girl who was selling them and got me one. It was a lot of fun. We perform during the half. Everybody has red, gold, white, and blue cards. You clip an instruction card on the collar of the person in front of you. One of the cheerleaders directs us, says Ready, Ready, Ready, Up! each time. We made UCLA, Beat Army, a lion, Old Main (which we crumbled from the top down) and several others. We were the whole show, because the Blue Band hadn't had time to plan a show. We were practically right next to the band, right over the thirty yard line. We won, by the way, 17-14. I was dying of thirst the whole time. It was terribly hot and I'm really sunburned. And can't wait till next week, homecoming, when we play Rice. I hope one of our home games is publicized, so you can see the Block S club in action.

This morning I sang at the 10:00 service at the Chapel. It was Lutheran and I'd never done it before. Most of the other kids had. It has lots of sing-chanting. And it really moves.

After lunch this afternoon Mrs. Schleiker asked Bonnie and me if we could stay to help the boy in salad area. So we did, figuring a half hour's extra work. Well, Bonnie left after one hour because she had to meet Jere and I finally punched out with the boy, Bob Nuss, at three. I never saw so many trays! They were behind because no one had worked salad area the day before for some reason, and they'd had both cake and pie in the two days. So there were a few hundred pie plates too. For two hours I dried trays. I think I'll get around thirty dollars the first check.

Enclosed is my schedule. It isn't complete because my lessons haven't been scheduled yet, nor the choir rehearsals.

Did I by any chance leave a red-and-white check cotton shirt at home? I'm sure I didn't, but I can't find it anywhere.

Tonight it's early to bed. I work breakfast again tomorrow and besides I'm really excited about my first real classes in music ed. 5 and 6 were courses anyone can take. But in the music courses I have from now on there will be only music students. I am so glad I'm in music.

So I will sign off. And I'll write again by Friday.

P.S.—Carol just called She's fallen in love with AO¶ sorority and from what she said I think it may be mutual. Two of the sisters knew Harry [one of Carol's castoff boyfriends] . She really sounded happy.

Mon. 11 p.m.

Voiceless me takes voice lessons

I'm writing in bed because it's 11:00 and I'm too tired to get out the typewriter and anyway, Bonnie's studying.


I'll stop now (getting more out of shape in letter-writing all the time) because we're both ready for bed. TO BE CONTINUED...

Oh, before I stop, my schedule and credits: Music 1, Music 83, Soc 30, and 1 credit each of Choir, Chorus, Voice, and String Bass, for a total of 14 credits.

Tuesday afternoon—And add the piano on to my credits, though it doesn't count, because I'm going to be spending some time on it. I had my second lesson with Mr. Wareham today. It lasted an hour and a quarter instead of a half hour. He says I'm the best student he's ever had. He gives me mimeographed sheets he's made up to work from. It's great.

I just came back from my first string bass lesson. I feel like a spastic. The way you hold the bow and grip the fingerboard is imopssibly stiff and unnatural. My teacher is Pete Gano, a grad student. I have to practice down in the armory, because you can't drag the string bass up to Carnegie.

Mrs. Taylor is my voice teacher. She's certainly forceful. To learn to breathe right, she had me put one hand on her abdomen in front and the other hand on the same level in back. I don't see how she can expand so much in the back when she breathes!

I know this is no excuse for a letter but it's 4:10 and I work dinner. Maybe I'll write more frequently and just make them quick, like this. Typed ones take over an hour.

Sun. aft.

Plotting to finish in three years

Today is as gorgeous as yesterday, when I got sunburned again at the game. Which we lost, 10-7. It was really pitiful. We had a huge pep rally Friday night and there were editorials and letters in the Collegian urging the kids to cheer more. And we did. It was more like an enthusiastic high school game than any of the others so far. We cheered so loud when Army was calling signals that the referees wouldn't let the game continue till everybody shut up. The guy on the loudspeaker for Block S said "Two wrongs don't make a right", and not to hinder the calls, that Army wasn't cheering when we signaled. Well, why should they? There were only 1300 of them down, and they weren't allowed to use loudspeakers, so they couldn't hope to drown us out. Like they did last year at West Point, with their student sections wired for sound, you could hear them roar on television. The cheering didn't help the Lions much anyway; it seemed like we were always on the defense. Our Block S show at the half was the best yet.

This term I certainly don't lack things to do. I recently found out that I have to pass two courses by exemption at the end of this term if I'm possibly going to graduate in June '65. They are Music 2 and Music 95. I'm enclosing the worksheet we are given to figure out our schedules, because I now have another one to keep, so you will understand how the courses go and when I have to take each one. All the music and music ed courses and the physics 255 course are given only one term a year, and none are given in the summer except applieds like piano and choir and band.

The reason I have to exempt 95 too is so I can take Mu Ed 54 next term.

In your senior year you go out student teaching all three terms. You decide on elementary, secondary, or instrumental, doing one of them each term. You have eight credits of student teaching all together. You are scheduled for 3 credits-worth each of your two first choices, and 2 credits-worth of your second choice. Instrumental and Secondary are my first two, el ed is the last. I'll have to do my instrumental teaching next fall because the preqrequisite methods courses for elementary and secondary teaching (mu ed 47 and 48) are only given in the fall. So I'll take them next fall and teach in the winter and spring. The prerequisite instrumental methods course (54) is only given winter term, and its prerequisite is music 95, melodic dictation. So I'll have to exempt 95, along with that freshman course Music 2.

So if all goes well, next term I'll be taking Mu Ed 54, Music 44, Music 79, and Physics 255.

I don't have any idea how hard it will be. So far, the book Mr. Henninger wrote for Music 2 (I'm on page 45) seems really easy. Music 95, melodic dictation, has no text. It is writing down the melodic line as you hear it from records or someone playing the piano. I talked to Mr. Gamble, who teaches it, and he said to listen to some Mozart flute sonatas, especially the cadenzas, and try writing it down, then come and see him again if I had trouble. He asked if I had absolute pitch and Mrs. Taylor says I do, so he said that will help a lot. I'm going to the listening library tonight.

I really want to graduate next year and maybe, maybe I can.

In Music 83, sight-singing, Mr. Gullo is devoting each Friday for us to perform real compositions. We've divided into two groups, so there's kind of competition. Each Friday we do two numbers that we chose the week before. Then we all go down to the armory and use his music files to pick out two more to prepare for the following week. Last week my group did "The Heather on the Hill" and "God Painted a Picture". The other group did "Bless this House" and "All in a Golden Afternoon". This week mine is doing "I hear a Voice A-Prayin'" and "Tonight". I accompanied last week. It's a lot of fun. We get together during the week over at Carnegie to rehearse.

The Thursday fifth-period of Music 1 is taken over by Mr. Gullo to teach beginning sight-singing. He said there's no reason for me to sit in on it, so he's having me work in his office down in the armory that period each week. I love it.

Mother, I would love to see you here any day if Mrs. Harmon decides to come [my mother doesn't drive] .

Sun. eve.

Carol has joined a sorority

Bill [my older brother] and Judy [his girlfriend] and Jerry [his best friend] and another girl were out here today. I only ran into them in Waring as I was on my way to eat before working, but they all looked like it had been a good weekend. Jerry looks good in his new haircut.

Right after working dinner I had to go over to Carnegie to meet my Music 83 group to rehearse our songs for next Friday, "The Stars are with the Voyager" and "Ezekiel Saw the Wheel".

Thanks for the donation. I was a little over-enthusiastic in depositing $20 of my first paycheck and would have barely scraped through till this Friday. It financed yarn and knitting needles and I visited Carol Thursday night for instructions on the slippers. They seem pretty easy, but I've only done about ten rows.

Her room was all decorated with red and white crepe paper by her sorority big sister, and she has her pledge pin. Everything is going great for her. She could move into the suite winter term if she wanted to, but won't because of JRing [she's a Junior Resident in her dorm] .

I met another girl in music ed, Mary Hylbert, who is also interested in exempting 2 and 95, so I hope we can work together on it.

Marletta Harkness, an upper-class instrumental major, told me last week that instrumental majors have to pass proficiencies on clarinet, sax, oboe, flute, trombone, trumpet, french horn, and drums, a stringed instrument, piano, and voice. I'd only heard one woodwind, one brass, one string, drums, piano, and voice. If she's right, I give up on the 12 terms, but I haven't been able to see Dr. Fishburn yet. Have you looked at the schedule to see how thick it is? If I don't exempt 2 and 95 I'm dead.

I'll write again Wednesday.

10:30 p.m.

Crying at my voice lesson

I'm still here, despite the silence. Thank you for the food, especially the fancy cookies. You must have had to bake for the church or something, they are so pretty. It was nice seeing the Harmons and Harrises and Reids Saturday. Mr. Harmon took pictures, and you have to see the Block S.

I had my first test in Soc 30 today, which is the main reason I haven't written lately. Half the assigned readings were only in the library, and I had a hard time getting hold of all of them just a few days before the test. I've really let that course slide. We have an awful teacher, really awful, and boring, boring, boring.

I got back my first Music 1 bluebook today, a B, which could have been an A except I don't follow Henninger's directions. I hate to sound blasé, and a "B"er certainly shouldn't, but that class also drives me mad. He goes so slowly, for the kids who are in agriculture, etc., and who are taking the course for an elective.

Music 83 is my only worthwhile class. If I'd only known Music 1 was such a kindergarten course I'd have taken an exemption test last winter when I switched into Music and have been right on schedule.

By the way, exemption tests cost $5.00 per credit. At the end of this term I want to take Music 2 (4 credits) and 95 (3 credits), which will be $35.00.

I cried at my voice lesson Saturday. I was really upset because I couldn't breathe the way she wanted me to. But she won't stand for crying. I never saw anybody so forceful.

Come up next weekend if you can. Seeing the other parents from home made me homesick.


Misplaced letter

[The envelope for this letter is here, but the actual letter is somewhere else. I'll find it eventually. I can tell it's announcing that I'm the piano accompanist for Penn State's next musical, "Fair Weather". On the back of the envelope it says: ] P.P.S.—Because of the enclosed, could you make the black dress right away?


I don't want to be a teacher

I'm half-listening to the Ohio game, which is tied at the moment. Bonnie is writing letters too. I saw the half-time show in Mrs. Traxler's office. We looked good, but I think Ohio had a more impressive drill. The band left at 8:00 Friday morning, will be back early tomorrow evening. Those trips must be a lot of fun.

Starting last Thursday night, the girls in "Fair Weather" have 1:00 curfews every night through the show [instead of 11:00] . Thursday evening I didn't get back to the dorm till 1:30 (because of all the red tape with campus patrol, who has to drive you back to your dorm after hours) and in bed at 2:30. Friday morning was a blank till 7:30 when Bonnie got up for her first period class and I had slept through breakfast, which I was supposed to work. I must have turned off the alarm in my sleep because I don't remember a thing. Anyway, a work cut puts me back to $1.00 an hour for the next 25 hours. My poor paycheck! I put up a sign to get subs for Mon. and Fri. breakfasts this coming week. Monday I have to leave at 8 a.m. to do one of the songs on a television show. Friday I'll be too dead to get up at 6:30.

The package came yesterday and your letter today. The blouses are perfect, and now I can give Bonnie back one of her scarves I've been wearing in this rain. There hasn't been time for a good wash-and-iron job in an age, so the green shirt got broken in last night.

I got a B- in the Soc. 30 exam, but I may as well add that I've gotten 0's on two pop quizzes in that class, one because I hadn't read the day's assignment, the other because I cut the day the test was given. But I'm sure they won't count much.

I think I'll get B's in all three major courses. In Music 1 I should get an A because I already know practically everything he's teaching me. But I won't, because it kills me to put out for that class, it's so boring. I know it's conceited and stupid to say you're bored with a kindergarten-simple class and then get a B in it. But I hate that class so much I don't like to think about it. Actually Henninger is the one I hate. If I ever loathed anybody, oh! He is egotistical and nauseating, and an old bachelor. And a pig-headed German. Sample of his jokes: A lady in a theater was seated next to a boy who had not bathed recently. After a half hour of discomifiture she turned to him and said "Young man, you smell." The boy said "No, lady, I stink. You smell." Yuk yuk. Something about him slightly disgusts me. He is really sickening, and overbearing, I despise him. I can't explain it. You'd just have to sit through one of his classes. Ugh!!!

It seems to me I'm always behind, never quite ready for something, then doing it anyway. I'm always trying to catch up.

I'm not up to par to accompany "Fair Weather". For instance, last night Pete decided I should just play a chord instead of an arpeggio to start a song. Because I can't play a decent arpeggio. I can play the chords the music calls for, but fancy frills are few and far between. I only meet the minimum requirements.

And trying to exempt these courses. I'm not getting anything done on them. I'm sure I can't pass 95, melodic dictation. I'm not even sure I want to. (I mean, sure that I want to pile on the courses to get out of here in 12 terms).

I haven't talked to anyone about it yet, and it seems very indecisive to say I think I would like to switch colleges again. And maybe it's just the present Broadway atmosphere of being with a show. But I always have loved shows and New York and have never wanted to be a teacher. Even in Music Ed, I've always told people that when I get out I'm going to NYC to get a job in a publishing house or as near Times Square as possible, that the Music Ed was just added security or something, in case I ever needed it in my old age.

To talk about going to NY and wanting to be in show business in some capacity or other sounds starry-eyed and impossible, but I really don't have anything else in mind. I don't want to teach. I'm going to New York.

I've been thinking about all the time and credits and lousy prerequisites I have to fool around with in Music Ed. Eight credits of student teaching would be good experience and I'd learn a lot, and the twelve credits of methods courses teach a lot about music too. But so I manage to ram them all into my remaining six terms. There are an awful lot of courses I would rather take. [I then proceed to list a bunch, including stuff like stagecraft, playwriting, advertising principles, techniques of fiction, etc.] .

I think I would like to switch into the College of the Arts (that is not the College of Liberal Arts) with a major in music. In that case, Mr. Henninger would be my advisor. So I will have to talk to him (ick!) and get my facts straight. But as I understand it, I'd be pretty much free to choose my courses, no foreign language or anything is required, I could definitely and with no trouble at all graduate in twelve terms and I would have taken the courses that I think will do me the most good.

I want so much to take those Theatre Arts courses. On Monday I'll talk to Mr. Henninger. Write and tell me how you feel about it. Security or not, I don't want to teach. I want show business.

I would love to come home for Thanksgiving. Carol says she and Becky are going with Pete for just the one day. It's really tempting, but I guess I better not. I just checked the calendar. In four weeks and five days, at most, I'll be home for Christmas. Monday Dec. 9 is the last day of classes, exam days are the 10th, 11th, and 12th. I have Soc 30 scheduled for the 12th, but maybe he'll change it to the last day of class and I can come home the 9th.

I got the shoes, plain black opera pumps. They just don't have anything in my size! The "collegiate charmer" did sell me the boots, by the way. Not on his charm, because he certainly does overdo it. They are what I want and I hope they get here.

Looking over this letter, it's not very newsy. I haven't really told you at all about the rehearsals, about playing duets with Mr. Wareham (we recorded Paper Ballet, a nightmare-scene dance number, together four-hands for the dancers to practice with. It really sounds great), or how everything really is. Regardless of what I said about inadequacy, my happiest hours are those rehearsals.

Closing thought—I sincerely believe that a switch to the Arts would solve all my problems (I wouldn't have to exempt 95) and give me everything I could ask for.

I shouldn't say this because I seem to break my word so often, but I'll try to write tomorrow or Monday and give more information.

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