Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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What chutzpah! Here my parents are putting me through college, and now that the end is in sight I'm suggesting that they also pay to put me through secretarial school—presumably because I can't think of anything I've learned at Penn State that will help me get a job. Maybe I'm a little scared of trying to enter the working world; school is a safe place to be. But it's time for me to "woman up".

Letters from Penn State - October 1964

Thurs. night

My father is working in Las Vegas

The term is almost half over and the second part always goes fast. Things seem to be going passably (literally), grade-wise. I got a 69 in the French midterm and think will probably be able to pull a C (70) for the course. The first Theatre 62 tests were given back yesterday and I got an A.

I still have a D average in AAH. And a B in Bi Sci, but our second test is coming up Monday.

The reason I have switched from Com 204 to Psych 17 for credit-by-exam is that, because Janie is taking the course and said it was so interesting, I talked to Prof. Adams and found that his policy is to give the grade in cases like mine by having the student take the tests along with the class. Which is so much better than not having any idea how you're doing till you take the test at the end. And, it's an easier subject. I took the first test Monday and got an 88.

La Vie is the yearbook. I got my picture taken today and it was raining and I was a mess, but I'm glad that's over with. I borrowed a black slip-on sweater of Janie's. They take 5 or 6 shots, you get the proofs in a week, and decide which one you want used. I hope there isn't any problem about my being put in or getting a copy of the yearbook. I'm listed in the phone book as 8th term and I hope Old Main has my credits up to date, because they check to be sure you're not trying to get in the wrong yearbook, or get in more than one yearbook.

Janie didn't like "Tom Jones" either.

As far as I know now, Oklahoma won't have a matinee. The performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Nov. 19-21. They haven't announced when tickets will go on sale yet. It would be wonderful if you could make it. If you do, tell me if you'd like to sit in the center section of the balcony (the best place accoustically) or downstairs toward the front.

The show is looking pretty good already. Especially the dancers, because we have a tremendous choreographer, Vinnie Holderman. The orchestra is rehearsing often and should be okay. I haven't been practicing the piano part, though, and I need it.

I told Janie that Daddy was driving 90 miles each day from Las Vegas to work. She thought you must mean minutes. You'd think there'd be someplace closer to stay. But then, if you can stay in Las Vegas, who wouldn't?

I haven't had time to go over to Placement yet. I don't really want to go to secretarial school, I keep thinking that in April, that in five months, I could go to N.Y. and get a job.

Tomorrow night is another Artists Series program I have to attend, Emlyn Williams reading Dickens. It sounds like it will be really good, from all the ballyhoo.

Mrs. Harmon has probably told you about Carol and the Peace Corps. You are a reference, and I am. She'll be in training next summer and plans for Liberia. I can't really imagine her going there.

French lab calls.

Thurs. morn.

Parents pay for secretarial school?

Four weeks from today, 28 days, and I will be through with this term. I've been here seven weeks yesterday. Getting through a term is like walking through mud, slogging along, putting days behind you. It isn't a matter of getting work done, just getting days done.

A week from tonight "Oklahoma" opens. It's going to be really wonderful. It's fun to see it done and compare it to my high school production. It's very well-cast. Tom Fornwalt, who has the comic part of Ali Hakim, could go professional.

The boy who's going to play the piano, John Berkheimer, is a transfer student from Julliard, where he was a piano major. He came here because he decided to give it up and go into mechanical engineering. He's terrific.

My slight disappointment in not being the pianist is alleviated whenever I hear him play and hear how good the musical numbers sound with him, and by being glad that I was the one who found him in the first place. I met him in Carnegie one day when I was practicing the Oklahoma music. He was such a tremendous piano player, I talked him into playing, then told Steve about him, and Steve signed him up as a rehearsal pianist before hearing him play, saying he wanted me to do the show because I was used to working with him.

And he would have let me play the show, since he'd asked me in the first place, but there certainly was a big discrepancy in our playing. Last week I talked to Steve and John, saying I'd really rather John played, I had 16 credits anyhow, etc. So John is playing.

It's good I'm not playing. With getting back to the dorm at 2 a.m. every night the week of the show, I'd cut all my French first periods, and that would be disastrous.

Tomorrow morning I'll have to miss French to play for a guest appearance of Laurey and Curley on "Second Chair", a University-produced TV show. Saturday night I'm playing for a guest appearance of four of the Oklahomans at the "Jawbone", a coffee house, gratis. I should never have said I'd do that one, I didn't know what I was getting into. They didn't tell me that there would be two 30-minute shows, and heaven knows how long of sitting around in between. I played for my last Oklahoma rehearsal last night.

Next Wednesday night I have to go see another play for Theatre 62, Moliere's "Imaginary Invalid" at the Pavilion.

Janie and I have switched the room around again. I wish you could see it, it's really nice, and cozy. She is going to stay here for Thanksgiving, which I'm glad of, because if I'm not going home, I hate for everybody else to. I guess Carol is. I forgot to ask her if she put you down as a reference; I thought she did, but maybe she didn't, because she used me for one.

I still haven't gotten around to going over to Placement; every "free" Tuesday and Thursday, like today, seems to fill up. I have to read ten chapters of "Making the Most of Marriage" for a Psych 17 test tomorrow and practice with the "Jawbone" group during sixth period. I definitely will, though, before I leave this term. I've decided now that I do want to go to secretarial school, and I know it would cost quite a lot if I went to N.Y. for it. If I did, I would like my living expenses to be a loan. The tuition would be about as much as the two terms of college I'm skipping. And I could pay you back the rest, and live at the Y or somesuch place. Anyway, that's my idea at present.

If I finish this now, Janie will mail it on her way to the library.

Tues. night

Thanksgiving or not?

I was just thinking—maybe I could come home for Thanksgiving. I just tried to call Carol to find out about her ride, but she isn't home. She's going with Bob Blakeney on Wednesday and coming back Sunday. I could do that too, I'd only miss Friday's classes. But I wouldn't know until later what my teachers' policies are about cutting on Thanksgiving weekend, particularly my AAH teacher, who has a nasty habit of giving quizzes any time the spirit moves him. And I hate to miss my 8:00 French, which I've missed enough already. But I'd love to come home. Especially if Janie goes home.

Saturday night at the Jawbone was fun. A lot of the Oklahoma cast knew about the performance and they all turned up there at ten, so we finished the act with a chorus of "Oklahoma" which everybody joined in on and raised the roof. Then one of the scenery crewmen was having a party for the cast at his apartment and we went over there. That afternoon, when I got back from practicing with the kids, I found a dozen beautiful pink roses in a vase waiting for me. They all chipped in for it. It was overwhelming. Nothing is so luxurious as flowers.

Yesterday was dismal, it rained all day, but that should allay the water shortage. I hadn't even noticed before you mentioned it, but it hasn't rained since the first week of school.

Did I tell you when I'd be home? My last exam will be over on Thursday December 10 at 2:00 p.m. I haven't checked the bus schedule yet, but I hope I don't have to stick around till Friday. Carol is through Monday the 7th, so is Janie.

The $10 will do for two weeks.

You mentioned those dear-to-my-heart words "N.Y." in your last letter and there's nothing in the world I would like better than a day there. Pick a day, any day.

Please call Dr. Lutz and make me a dental appointment. I should have gone to see him before I came back.

Did you know the average P.S.U. male takes only two-and-a-half baths a week (quote from Dr. Adams in Psych 17 yesterday). One of the commonest complaints of P.S.U. wives in adjustment to marital relations is that their husbands are not clean enough. Don't ask me why I threw that in, but that two-and-a-half sounds awfully low to me.

I have to go to French lab now.

Fri. night

Yes, home for Thanksgiving

I've decided to come home for Thanksgiving. Bob Blakeney has room and will probably leave around 4:00 Wednesday afternoon. Somehow I really want to this time—can't wait.

"Oklahoma" last night was really tremendous. They say a Thursday night audience is never equal to a Saturday night's and I'd love to see the Sat. night for this one. The audience last night was so responsive, so impressed, so enthusiastic. They were laughing all over the place and clapping even after some of the jokes.

It was tremendously polished and snappy. The orchestra sounded good, the dances looked unbelievably professional and everything really moved. I do feel like I missed an awful lot, but I feel great that it is so good. I wish you could see it.

Janie's already in bed so I'll close. And see you Wednesday evening.

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