Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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It's winter-term graduation time at Penn State. I'm graduating in only ten quarters instead of the usual twelve, due to my efforts to speed up the process. My parents had wanted me to go to college and I went willingly, but my dreams were always focused on New York City. To quote a song from A Chorus Line, "and now life really begins!"

Letters from Penn State - March 1965


The cruise ships don't want me

I'm using-up messed-up typing paper, have enough of it. Only two replies have come so far from nine steamship companies. Cunard (which runs the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth among others) said that according to the Articles of Trade they can only hire British personnel, and the Greek Line only hires Greek personnel. Then I started checking on the others I've written to and the only two I'm certain are American are the U.S. Lines and Moore-McCormack. So I hope they come through. There aren't that many lines, most of them are affiliated with each other.

I still haven't checked on civil service jobs, will on Tuesday. And I'll go over to Willard too, then, to check on graduation. You shouldn't have received that bill. I called housing and they said they hadn't been informed that I was graduating and that I should send them a letter so they'd have notification. So I did. But that certainly means that I'd better check at Willard. Really, though, I don't have any doubts.

I still don't know what time graduation is, but it's in the afternoon and you'd just come for the day. Gee, I think David Harris is the first boy in my high school class to get married.

I still haven't written to Barbara but will this evening. There are these fourteen days left, with every day mapped out with quizzes and due dates, and then two weeks from today the big gray nothing begins. Face it, I have nothing going for me. No one wants me. But really, I feel good about the whole thing.

Bell turned Janie down. And when they turn her down, they've still got a glut of girls to choose from. She had an interview with a rehabilitation center in Johnstown on Thursday and is pretty sure it will have a bright outcome.

Her boyfriend (it was Proctor & Gamble) was wined and dined in Cincinnati and conferred with four big wheels out there. While he was at lunch the wheels talked it over, and then in the afternoon they offered him the job, and asked him to let them know by the end of this month. Tommy told them he'd like more time because he wanted to talk to Mack Trucks over term break, so they gave him till April 10. They drove him around the city, showing him all the high spots, and told him to call collect if he had any more questions. He was given a check for $110 to cover his plane and food, which was plenty. They took care of the hotel. Honestly, too much! For a summer job! Of course, I guess they're thinking he'd come back after graduation. But may I say it again: to be in Mech Eng with a 3+ average!

That's really nice, that you're getting to go on the New York trip. I'll probably be living in New York then. Since that's a Wednesday, is it for the matinee show?

I hope Chris' airplane wing project did well at the science fair. Janie says he sounds like "a real nice kid", so independent and upstanding.

It was so spring-like last week that I took my trenchcoat down to the cleaner's. Then it snows for two days. This is gloppy wet snow; I'll be glad when it's gone for good.

Have received your welcome subsidies. This week's is going for a haircut at Mr. Ian's.


I accompany tryouts for a musical

The days are flying past. I ran into Carol today and we may not see each other again for months. She is coming home Thursday and then on Sunday or Monday going down to her roommate's house in Philadelphia. She got a reply from the Peace Corps that her acceptance will have to wait until they check doctor's reports that her underweight isn't due to any disease or something.

I ran into Harry Marston [another of Carol's semi-castoff boyfriends and a Penn State alum] in the HUB parking lot on Thursday, up here to find out about job openings in Pennsylvania for when he becomes civilian again in October. Suddenly he looks old; he's put on weight and is getting gray. But same old Harry, I guess. He went to see Carol, but brought a friend along with him.

I've received replies from most of the shipping companies now. Most of them hire only foreign personnel and the American ones say they have mile-long lists of applicants and only hire them after they've become union members. I've given up on them, and don't have any particular interest, somehow, in a settled one-location job overseas. If I take a one-location job there's only one place I want it, so I'm back to plans for NYC. Still haven't written to Barbara, but definitely will tonight. Now I've wasted all these weeks on the ships, and haven't written to any music and book publishing companies, etc. My finals start on Monday and I won't have time probably to type them now.

My exams will be over Thursday evening. Graduation is at 2:00 Sunday. I checked with Willard and Housing and everything is all set. Janie is through Wednesday afternoon and is going home with all her things on Thursday, just coming back for the day Sunday. So I'll be here in a big lonely dorm when mostly everybody has cleared out.

I got my hair cut and really like it. It's short in back, long in front.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings I spent playing for the tryouts for the Pavilion's next production, a musical called "Riverwind". I never heard of it but it was done off-Broadway. It has seven characters and lacks the usual singing-dancing chorus. It's about a couple who revisit their honeymoon retreat 20 years later.

That's the first time I was ever in on cast tryouts and it was fascinating. Everyone had to sing, bringing their own sheet music, and learn a little dance routine to see how fast they could pick it up, and read. Most of the kids I'd seen before in other productions, but there were a few who were just there on a one-shot burst of courage or inspiration, I bet, and who were tense and stiff and couldn't "belt", which was what the director wanted. Theater at Penn State is really a closed society. Of the seven parts, six went to theater majors. I guess that's understandable, but there aren't many more theater majors at Penn State than there are music majors, which isn't many.

Wednesday night was call-backs, and four parts had definitely been assigned at that time. The kids who had to come that night were prospective fillers for the other three, and the atmosphere was competition plus. They had to read whole scenes and sing again. Since the kids didn't know the book, the one who read for the part second certainly had a big advantage. It was cast, finally (notice was posted yesterday), exactly the way I'd have done it. Sally Diamond, who was Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker", has the older female lead. Margery Bloomfield, who had the female leads in "Fair Weather" and "Oklahoma", plays the ingenue. Bob Barber, the Thespian drummer, tried out, but his voice is too light and untrained. He wants to get into television directing, but I know if he had it in him his dream would be to be on stage himself. He's coming to NYC after he graduates in June.

It's so hard to believe I'm almost out of here, for permanently. We checked out of Chem Lab this morning. $6.48 has been deducted from my General Deposit for supplies. It's gone too fast. That's why I wanted to get a job on a ship. Life is passing me by; I get the feeling I've got to do something drastic soon, or I'll never find out what it's all about.

Janie just left the room; record players are blaring from the rooms on either side and she is really studying for finals, to keep her average. She will graduate "with distinction". To be sure that I graduate any old way, I better start cracking too.

Tues. eve.

Graduation from Penn State

Your letter and the blouse both came this afternoon. Here I am, one week from leaving here, and I finally get something in the current college color. I really like it, having been wanting something maroon for ages. And it fits perfectly (A-number-one sleeve-wise). There's nothing like Lady Manhattan.

Unfortunately I'm anything but done yet. Two exams tomorrow and two Thursday. I'm really worried about the Theater test Thursday. There are eight plays we're supposed to have read and I've only been able to get ahold of four of them. The other four, the library has only one copy of each in English (several in French, German, etc., of course) and they're two-week books and there are 20-some kids in the class and she only told us about it three weeks ago. I think everybody has left the play-reading for the last minute, like me, because on Monday mass hysteria still hadn't broken out. If nobody else complains tomorrow, I'm going to. She should have had the books put on two-hour reserve at the library.

And Zoology, I'm wading through chapter after chapter tonight. I also have the AAH test. I had B's in the two major tests in that course so far and wasn't thinking too much about it, I'd just make another B in the final, or even a C, and still get a B. But yesterday we got our term papers back and I got an A in it. Since one of my B's was nearly an A, if I got an A in the final I'd get an A in the course, and now, darn it, feel like I should stay up all night plugging for that. Is it worth it?

Graduation is at 2:00, I'm supposed to be in my seat at 1:40 (no processional or recessional) and no tickets are required. So I'll see you Sunday.

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