How did I miss out on all this teenage hijinks?
Oh yea, I was shy. And way too much moving between five years old and sixteen years old. Two states, Ohio and California. Six times total.
Sure looks like kids were having fun back in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, though.
Spin-the-bottle games, makeout sessions on couches and in the backseat of cars, sock hops, county fair kissing booths, and something called the Temptation Game, which looks like an excuse for making out.
I perused Google and Pinterest looking for old teenage photos of boys and girls doing what they loved to do back then – and today. Thought you’d enjoy having your memories nudged back into consciousness.
I do recall a game of spin-the-bottle. The year was 1961 or thereabouts. One of the girls who lived across the street, Betty Barnes, took me into her house one day. Her 13-year-old sister Sandy was playing the kissing game with other young teens. I’m not sure if the teen couples kissed in a closet or smooched sitting on the floor. My guess? Sitting on the floor, since that garners more giggles from the others.
I figured I’d be playing spin-the-bottle in a few years, but it didn’t happen. We moved from Rialto to Corona, leaving behind the nucleus of friends who would have made up a spin-the-bottle game. Thinking back, one in particular would probably have been my first going-steady girlfriend – Laura Wagner, who lived two houses down from my house on St. Elmo Drive.
During the elementary-school years, Laura and I were inseparable friends. When her mother told eight-year-old Laura that girls her age couldn’t spend the night with nine-year-old boys, she couldn’t keep back the tears. Laura was a tomboy. We played catch, wrestled, rode our bikes together and swam in each other’s pools. As we wrestled one time, Laura started singing a mushy love song and kissed me. I acted like she gave me cooties. Her family moved away to Anaheim. We soon followed – to Norco.
Had we been living close together in our teenage years, would our friendship have bloomed into a romance? Who knows? We did like each other. I saw Laura one more time before we moved back to Ohio.
We visited the Wagner family in their home in Anaheim in early October 1965. I was a little over a month from turning 14 and in the eighth grade. Laura was in the seventh grade. She wasn’t home, so I bummed around with her brother Mark, also in the eighth grade. When she did make an appearance, Laura and a friend appeared in tennis dresses and were soon back out the front door. I didn’t see her again. I do recall thinking Laura no longer looked like that tomboy runt I wrestled with in my side yard. She’d bloomed into a beautiful young girl who fit flawlessly into that tennis dress. I will admit… I was taken aback when she hardly acknowledged me. She did ask me if I liked tennis. I backhanded a crappy answer to her, told her I wasn’t interested in sissy sport. Not surprising, she didn’t ask me to go to the tennis court with her and her friend. I often made tactical mistakes when talking to girls. Want to hear some irony? Later when I became an adult, I became a tennis aficionado.
Cynthia lived a block from me in our neighborhood tract in Corona/Norco. At the bus stop, she’d sit beside me on a retaining wall and shoot the breeze. That was in sixth grade in 1964 shortly after our families moved into the new housing development. In the seventh grade, she was the first girl I danced with at my first sock hop at Norco Junior High. We were coasting along quite nicely toward some hand-holding and a kiss or two until I decided to act like Mr. Cool. Remember my earlier comment about tactical mistakes?
One day the mist was so heavy the school bus couldn’t pick us up until around ten after the sun had burned away the fog. When I reached the bus stop, Cynthia ran up to me like she meant to give me a hug. I stupidly pushed her away. She shot back an angry retort.
I was trying to show the other guys at the bus stop I wasn’t a henpecked guy. Our friendship was never quite the same. In eighth grade, Cynthia went steady with someone else, holding hands and sneaking kisses. Then just before we moved back to Ohio, Cynthia’s family moved to Las Vegas.
At that first sock hop, I slow-danced with another girl, an amply endowed seventh grader who looked a sophomore in high school. When I danced with Cynthia, we didn’t snuggle-dance. Tonya would have none of that keep-at-arms-length Victorian balderdash. She pressed me against her and we truly danced cheek to cheek. In one class, she sat in the back row and I sat one row in front of her. One time I turned and found her adjusting a nylon. With her dress pulled up to her thighs, Tonya was tossing coy smiles my way. Had my family stayed in the Corona/Norco neighborhood and not moved across the country, maybe Tonya would have been my first teenage romance.
Turning shy and awkward in Ohio, I gave up playing sports and retreated into science fiction and fantasy novels. I made no effort to date until college and later during my twenties at my first newspaper job. For folks who stayed in one town through elementary school, junior high and high school, you’re fortunate. No moving incessantly to new schools. No struggling to make new friends.
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I’m an author with three published fantasy novels – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.