Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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How selfish can I be? I expect my father to pick me up at the bus station (40 miles round trip) at three a.m., even though he has to go to work the next day.

Letters from Penn State - March 1963

Sun. aft.

My Old Trombone

It seems like the week starts slowly on Monday and each following day up till Friday gets busier, so that letters get out on weekends and that's it. Inefficiency! It's because my piano lesson and my weekly Phil test are both on Friday.

It's a beautiful day today. I have the window wide open. I just called Carol and we're going to take a walk at three. Bonnie went home for the weekend, or rather to Jere's house. I can't get over how two such nice kids could come from such mixed-up families. Jere's parents separated when he was twelve, because his mother was having an affair with the milkman, but then they came back together again until their children finish school. They have nothing to do with each other. Jere's younger brother Jeff is a year behind in school because when the parents separated the mother took the boys out in the country to her family's farm and kept them out of school.

The only other book [on the trombone] I had besides the Arban is one called Cimera Hovey. It ought to be in my room somewhere. This is terrible, I forget my trombone teacher's name already. But he told me to use trumpet valve oil on the slide instead of Wilwerk, because trombone oil is too thick and heavy. I just never got around to buying it, because I had plenty of the other. He said the very best thing to use for a really effortless movement of the slide is cold cream. But if you use it you have to clean the slide very often to keep it from really gumming up. You can wash the slide in the bathtub. Don't use detergent to take off the old black grease though, because it makes it grainy no matter how well you rinse it. I can imagine how stiff the slide is. It's supposed to be so slippery that if you unlatch the catch at the top, the slide will slip right off by itself and your worry is holding it in place, not moving it to different positions.

That man teacher I had was very good and I would take his advice. Wash the slide with soap and get all the black off. Then use trumpet oil on it, cold cream if Chris is willing to wash it every day. Sometimes when it gets stiff but it has lots of oil on it, put a few drops of water on it. My teacher used a little atomizer bottle to spray it on. Chris, I hope you like playing the trombone. It really has a nice sound and gets solos sometimes. It's the only instrument that can make that smooth glissando, when you hold the slide out at the end and bring it in on one breath. In the football bands the trombones are always in the front row. And, unlike the sax, trombones are used in both band and orchestra. And dance bands, and brass ensembles. You'll have a passport to just about any instrumental group. It's definitely a boy's instrument. So I hope you like it. You'll have a wonderful time playing in the band.

I still haven't seen Dr. Fishburn. The whole music department, practically, went to Atlantic City Friday for a convention. The housing department office is over in Pollock dining hall. I'll walk over tomorrow and get my application. Mrs. Kokat, by the way, got her degree at Indiana University in Indiana. She doesn't want her master's to be from Penn State. She wants to get it at Peabody Institute in Washington D.C., which I never heard of, but I think that's the name.

You know, when I went home at Christmas, I thought our piano was hard to play and I didn't know why. Mrs. Kokat has been telling me about soft and hard touches on the piano. All the pianos at Carnegie are as soft as butter. You just touch a key and it sounds. They aren't any good for building up strength in the hands. Now that I think about it, that's what it is about our piano. You have to work a little more. We have a good piano.

I can take instrumental lessons over the summer, and summer band counts one credit. Chorus and Chapel Choir are still active during the summer. I'm going to try out for Chapel Choir again summer term. Bonnie is convinced that the "Music Ed" on your application sheet is very influential [for getting into Chapel Choir] . She would join except that she always spends Sunday mornings with Jere.

I was over at the Chapel the other day. The list of choir members does read like a [music ed] common hour role call. Peggy Shobert, Bob Fought, Blaine Shover (accompanies the Glee Club), Vicky Paynter (piano), Ray Zeigler (organ), Tina Burkholder (first trumpet in the Concert Blue Band, and a girl!--that's really something), Jane Rockwell (if I take sax lessons, it will probably be from her father), Richard Althouse (clarinet), and others. One thing about the music curriculum, it is cozy. There aren't many people in it and they are close-knit. Especially by these common hours. You get to know everyone fast. Everybody is always in and out of Carnegie.

I think it would be fun if Carol and I came home on the bus together Wednesday night. I'll talk to her about it this afternoon. And I have to get going to meet her. Gee, this letter hasn't got around to saying half the things I had in mind, but I think I'll mail it now anyway, so you'll get something right away, and promise to write again tomorrow.

Mon., 10:00 pm

Maybe a Trip to New York City

I'm writing this [instead of typing] because Bonnie has turned in early to recover from her weekend.

I'll tell Carol that I think it would be better if Bonnie and I stayed together next year. There was never any question about next term. But Bonnie is willing for this arrangement to continue and I certainly am too. I like her an awful lot. And Carol and I get along much better when it's sort of a treat when we see each other, like yesterday afternoon when we took a walk. I'll tell her the first time I get a chance. Carol is coming home Thursday morning with Bob Blakeny, and I'd like to take the 10:30 bus out Wednesday night, getting into Scranton at three a.m.

Carolyn Chock, the girl from Hawaii who lives next door, and I have put in applications for a USG-sponsored trip to NYC the 29, 30, and 31 of this month. We'd stay in the Hotel New Yorker for $3.50 per night (2 nights), in a room for four. The round-trip bus from the HUB and back to it is only $8.00. So basic costs would be only $15.00, not counting meals.

There is a suggested agenda, with choices on it. Suggested are such things as a show Friday evening (recommended: Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore") followed by a trip to Greenwich village. Saturday morning is a free rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera. In the afternoon, Radio City or Leonard Bernstein. In the evening, ballet at the City Center. Sunday morning, Protestants will attend church at the Little Church Around the Corner. Then dinner at a restaurant around the ice rink, a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and home. 30 students can go, first consideration given to the earliest applications. Carolyn and I got ours in this morning. Here's hoping!

I babysat again this morning and accepted another job for Sunday afternoon. I don't need the money now but it's hard to say "no" when they are having trouble finding girls.

Mrs. Schleiker bowled me over the other day by stopping me and asking my present wage level. I said I didn't know. She said she'd check on it, that I should probably be upped to $1.10/hour now because I've been working a lot for quite a while. Cheers!

My hand is tired already and I work breakfast tomorrow. Good night.

Sun. eve.

Accepted for the NYC trip!

I was notified at noon today that my application for the New York trip was accepted. We'll probably leave at 8 a.m. Friday the 29th and be back at 11 p.m. Sunday the 31st. I'm really excited about it.

Happiness is tempered by the fact that I feel lousy. I have a bad cold and, for two days now, a constant headache. I went to Ritenour Wednesday afternoon and the doctor gave me throat lozenges, gargling tablets, nasal spray, and some interesting-looking pink and black capsules which I take four of a day. He said to come back in a couple of days, which I haven't done yet, but if this awful headache is still around tomorrow, I will.

The girl who called at noon said there was a compulsory meeting this afternoon at 2:30. I had already accepted a babysitting job with the Osipows, from two to six. But I felt I simply had to go to the meeting, since we had to decide what tickets we wanted the group to arrange for us. (Carolyn was accepted too.) I called Mrs. Osipow and asked if she would mind a substitute, a girl I knew was very reliable. She was not very enthusiastic about the change, which is understandable, but agreed. So Bonnie, the dearest person in the world, went in my place. I haven't seen her since she got back, and hope everything went all right. Oh, she just came in the door. It was fine, we agree that the oldest boy can be a terror. She read him stories most of the time.

My meeting was in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority suite over in Pollock 5. I knew two of the kids there, which is something, since it's such a small group out of such a large one. One was Sue something-or-other, she ate in my dining hall last summer. The other is Rita's cousin, Bob Barziloski, from Tau Kappa Epsilon. Vicki Brown I know of, she's in Mu Ed and has a straight 4 average. There are more girls going than boys.

There were minor changes in the program. We'll still see "The Milktrain doesn't Stop Here Anymore" Friday night. The free Met rehearsal is out, we will see the regular opera Sat. afternoon, I forget the name of it, it's with Joan Sutherland. The ballet is also a matinee, Sunday afternoon. This is the extent of the group arrangements they are making. It's up to each person what he does otherwise, with Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and evening, and Sunday morning. I did want to see a musical too, Sat. night, but that does rack up the expense. Carolyn wants to see Radio City some time or other, so maybe that's what we'll do Saturday night. There will be several lectures on the bus on the way down, about the opera so we'll appreciate it, and about transportation. I'm taking my trusty maps, of course, and studying them enthusiastically now.

Meals are up to the individual. Carolyn and I both want one big expensive meal at a famous place, Horn and Hardart-type the rest of the time. There were several sample menus at the meeting, but I hadn't heard of any of them. They were for Sloppy Louie's, Henry IV, the Village Barn, and the German Ratskellar. I will have my first cocktail in New York.

I don't know what clothes I ought to bring. That material you made your shift out of is very pretty. I wish it were spring and I didn't have to wear my good coat, just a suit. I'll take the green mohair, maybe the black. When I get home maybe we can look at patterns and material for spring clothes. I do need a written permission slip for this trip.

I've made estimates of all my grades and figured out my averages. I think my term average will be around 2.85, and that will make my All-U 2.42 or something like that. That is assuming Bi.Sci.-C, Phil-C, piano-B, chorus-A, and Music 5-A. I'm counting on an A in the music final or else that won't come off.

I'm enclosing the summer term application. You can send it in with whatever funds are necessary. I still haven't been able to see Dr. Fishburn. That man is never in his office. Of course he's been sick the last two weeks. I'll call him again tomorrow, I mean his secretary.

Carolyn and I went to see "Diamond Head" at the movies yesterday. It didn't have too believable a plot, but was set in her native Hawaii.

I'm going downtown to get some aspirin and soap. I did my washing tonight.

P.S. - I got my income tax refund yesterday so had plenty of money to pay for the bus, hotel, and tickets, which we did at the meeting today.

Sun., 11:30 pm

I am so thoughtlessly demanding

Another regression to my pigeon-scratch [instead of the typewriter] —Bonnie is studying for her Music 95 final which she has tomorrow morning. But I guess I've put this off long enough; I only hope it arrives on Wednesday, because I want to be met at the bus terminal in Scranton at 3:00 a.m. Thursday morning. That is such a ghastly hour to ask anyone to go meet somebody, Daddy, that I feel guilty writing it. Three a.m.! Agh! Anyhow, that is the hour.

We filled out forms for the dining hall last week and I signed up to work all my free meals during exams. The schedule was posted today and they actually did give me every meal. Bonnie started working yesterday. I'm glad; it's now something else we have in common.

I have breakfast tomorrow and Tuesday and Wednesday so must get to bed. I'm scribbling this to tell you when I'll be home and must be sure it gets out tomorrow morning early; but I'll try to write again after breakfast.

Mon. aft.

It's all about me

I'm coming home with Pete Yestrumskas. He stopped for coffee today and asked when and how I was going home. When I said the bus, he asked how much it cost. Then he said I should come with him, because he only charges $3.00. He's leaving at 10:30 too, because one of his other passengers has a ninth period test. So just leave the door unlocked. We ought to be there sometime after two.

I have to go copy some of Carol's notes now.

Wed. aft.

Maybe I can finish in 3 years

You've probably gotten my grades by now, but just in case you haven't, here's the lovely news. I got the A in Music 5, also in piano, and the automatic one in chorus. And Cs in Phil and Bi Sci. My term average is 2.91, the All-U is 2.45. Next term I'll crack the three digit. You may have talked to Mrs. Harmon. Carol got a 3.05, higher than her highest estimate, which was 2.9.

The trip out here was pleasant because it was such a beautiful day. We reached State College too late to make the dining halls for lunch, and Mr. Friedrich suggested that we stop for lunch. Gerhard [Carol's boyfriend] chose the Holiday Inn motel coffee shoppe. The food was very good, I had soup and a roast beef sandwich. And, he wouldn't let me pay. And, when we got to the dorm, he refused to take the envelope, said I was his guest. Gerhard's father is dead or otherwise removed from the family circle. Mr. Friedrich is his mother's brother and lives with them, is in the same capacity to Gerhard as his father would've been. Don't ask me why Gerhard's last name is his mother's maiden name. I'm not clear on that.

As soon as I'd dropped my suitcase off in the room, I went over to Waring to get my job back. I had a good long wait, because lots of kids were applying. But I was back on counter Monday night. There are around ten new girls so far. There weren't more than ten girls working last term. I hope this flood of female help doesn't result in my working less meals. Rita, her roommate Lynne, and Becky and Wendy, also roommates, all from B level, have all been signed on.

After I registered this morning I took my class schedule over to the supervisor, Mrs. Schleiker, so she could make up the chart for when classes begin tomorrow. She's gotten wise to the cagey ways of some of the student employees, and now requires the original IBM copy we get of our classes, instead of a copy which we wrote and gave to her as was done the first two terms. This is because some kids have an aversion to working breakfasts and put down six eight-o'clocks when they really didn't have them.

Carol and I went to the movies Monday night to see "Five Miles to Midnight" with Tony Perkins and Sophia Loren. It was in black and white, really unbelievable, but it held your attention. In the end Sophia ran her car over her husband, Tony, three times to kill him because he wouldn't give her her freedom. Then she went insane.

I went to see Dr. Fishburn yesterday afternoon to plan my schedules for summer and fall. He said I definitely could not take Music 2 and 44 together, meaning I could not get through in three years that way. The only way I can possibly do it is to pass Music 2 by examination at the end of fall term so I can take 44 instead of it in the winter. I'm determined to do it. Bonnie has Henninger's book and I started reading it last night. It's really interesting and I'm sure I can get it on my own. Maybe I'll still be a June '65 graduate.

This term I'm taking Music 6, EdSer 115, Speech 200 or Bi Sci 2, I'm not sure which, Phys Ed (square dancing), chorus, and piano. I'm registered for Speech 200 but am going to try to drop-add Bi Sci instead, because Speech is given every term but I can only pick up Bi Sci in winter or spring. Oh, sax too.

This summer I'll take Phys Ed, History 20, Psych 13 and 14, and piano and sax. In the fall I'm down for Music 1, English 19 (Great Books of American Literature), Sociology 30 (Marriage and the Family), chorus, and voice and violin lessons.

I bought the little song book which is used for piano proficiency exams. The exams are given at the end of the term. You have to be able to play the Star Spangled Banner in a couple of keys and put accompaniments to the songs in this book, which only gives the melody lines. They are things like Molly Malone and This Old Man and On Top of Old Smokey.

Carolyn and I still haven't heard any more from the NYC trip planners. Someone better call pretty soon to tell us the time of departure. I hope the weather is just like it was yesterday. Today it's cold and windy again. I have a feeling about this trip, that it's going to be wonderful.

I'm going downtown now to see if they have any suits. I got my paycheck, for $31.97. That extra ten cents an hour really adds up. Carol's parents are going to take her home for Easter. She asked me to come. It's awfully soon, but it would be nice. We've gone through the chocolate chip cookies already.

Sat. morn.

Being in Manhattan

[ a Times Square postcard: ] I'm sitting in the Hotel New Yorker coffee shop waiting for breakfast. We were on the "Great White Way" last night to see "Stop the World—I Want to Get Off". Words can't describe how wonderful a N.Y. musical is. Yesterday afternoon we went to Greenwich Village and paid 65 cents for a cup of bitter espresso at Manzini's coffee house. It really had atmosphere. Dinner was at Toffinetti's. I'm trying to get a ticket for the matinee of "Oliver" this afternoon.


Remembering Manhattan

[ a Ruby Foo postcard: ] I will definitely write tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to see "Giant". Your letter with the insurance came today. I didn't get a suit, or a ticket to "Oliver". But I got standing room for "No Strings" and it was even better than "Stop the World". We got back at 1:45 a.m. Monday. Sunday night we ate at Ruby Foo's. What atmosphere! And we went backstage at the ballet. They will have this again next year and I'll be first to sign up.

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