Cactus Hill Observatory # 101
Highway 14, 7 miles east of Fort Collins, Colo.
Upon further research and mind-bending, I changed my teachers name from Mr. Williamson to Mr. Dean, thanks to my sister Ginger.
When it came time for me to graduate from eighth grade, and as I was the only one in my class, seventh graders participated also. I did not want to be on the stage by myself so Mr. Dean arranged for seventh grade girls to sit on stage with me.
But, first we had to have brand-new clothes, brand-new shoes and a hairdo from the hairdresser in Fort Collins — Mom’s favorite place to go to get permanents — and get our hair cut when it got “shaggy.” About every three months my two sisters and I would go for a trim. My sisters Ginger and Elaine had really pretty natural curly hair. I was blessed with lots of blonde-white straight as a string “mop” as my dad described my hair. So I got the home perm, Toni, after my hair was cut. My sisters Ginger with her pretty auburn brown Irish curly hair and Elaine with her cute curly brown hair, did not have to have them, but once in a while they did not escape the two to three hours of Mom or a neighbor rolling our hair on rods, then the stinky perm solution poured over each curler, wait 15 minutes, while you dabbed at the solution running down your face or your neck.
It was then rinsed and rinsed and a neutralizer solution was poured over — wait 5 minutes and then it was rinsed and rinsed again. After the “rods” were taken out, Mom would get her box of “bobby pins” and begin to roll our hair in tiny little pin-curls all over our head. We had to wait until the next morning to take out the “bobby pins.” In the morning taking out all the bobby pins was so relieving as my scalp had endured those bobby pins sticking into my head all night long. I can still feel the relief of having those out! I spent a long time brushing and combing it out in the morning. Sometimes it looked OK and sometimes it looked like terrible fuzz! My mom would scold me about brushing and combing out all the curl – well?
Along with new clothes and new shoes I had to have that dreaded new perm for eighth grade graduation. My hair looking terrible no matter what I did with it. My Mom told me several times to stop fussing with it. On this day of graduation I was not happy with my hair and to top it off I was uncomfortable in my new graduation outfit with its straight skirt, a jacket with a “peplum” (pipling?) — a word that is not even in the dictionary anymore, at least not mine, a slight two inch ruffle of the same jacket material attached to the bottom of the jacket. I also had to wear a garter belt with nylon stockings attached. Now that was really uncomfortable!
One of my seventh grade friends, who was standing on the stage with me, could not afford a new dress so Mom bought hers and her shoes. She did not however, make her go to the hair dresser or get a Toni home-permanent! I considered her lucky!
We decorated the room with — what else? — rolls of crepe paper (used and carefully re-rolled for the next event) attached to the middle of the high ceiling of the room and twisted and twisted and taped to the top of blackboards on the stage. Yes, we had a small stage in our school room. I picked all of Mom’s lilacs and any other kind of flower that were blooming the end of May. They were placed all over the stage in quart canning jars.
Mr. Dean had a friend that was the speaker. The minister from our family church in Fort Collins gave the opening prayer and the benediction. I gave a short speech, that I wrote myself and Mr. Dean edited. I was so petrified to speak in front of everyone, that that memory is blocked out of my mind forever. I was terrified to get up in front of people and speak. I still am.
My piano teacher, Kathryn Sutherland, played the Pomp and Circumstance as I marched by myself down the aisle, up onto the stage, terrified of course! The whole farming neighborhood turned out for Edith Ann McClure’s graduation. Cookies, coffee and tea were served afterwards with Kool-Aid for the kids. I have little recollection of anything else about my graduation other than how uncomfortable I was with my graduation outfit and my out of control blonde-white kinky hair. Oh yes, my Mom made the cookies probably baked for weeks before!
And if I thought I was terrified about graduating from grade school my first day in high school was even worse! To be continued!
NOTE: I appreciate all of the comments about your experiences with grade school in the 40s and 50s. Seems like we were all in the same boat!