It seems like my road has been a long one to travel. As an infant, they didn’t expect me to survive. As an 8-year-old, they thought my lengthy battle with whooping cough would end sadly. Well, what do you know? I’m still here and outlived my entire family. Worst of all, I had to tell them all a final goodbye.
My enterprising parents saw us all through the Great Depression, keeping food on the table and a roof over our heads. They even found a way to pay for several years of dancing and piano lessons. I always felt blessed.
My “journey” though WWII was exciting, with all the scrap drives, Junior Spry Units, Junior Red Cross and helping out at the library, shelving books. But, my family and I worried all through the war effort because my adored big brother was dashing around in the South Pacific on a destroyer and we feared for his safety. But, he was a survivor and came home to us a mature 22, with a new bride.
I was also blessed to have been raised in a good neighborhood. We were all like family on Leesburg Avenue. I learned so much from those exceptional people. I always felt welcome in their home. Then, too, I had some very dear playmates. I was just another member of the “the gang.” We climbed trees, played ball and never missed the Saturday westerns at the old “Place Theater.” If sex was going on in the world, we were unaware of it. All of that awaited us in maturity…
We grew up during the heyday of radio. Families spent evenings after dinner bore the new cabinet models in the parlor, listening to “Lum’n ‘n Abner,” “The Great Gildersleeve,” “Fibber McGee and Molly” and on and on. Saturday mornings found us kids engrossed in the “The Story Lady,” “Smilin’ Ed McConnell” and others.
Our school days were great. Teachers did not tolerate misbehavior. You were expected to do your homework, get to school on time and participate in class discussion. They taught us so much more than the “Three R’s.” So many of my school mates grew up to make important contributions to the arts and business communities. Several of us have kept in touch through the years…
I smile when I read my old autograph books from those Cherry Hill years. Little boys wrote, “Violets are blue but I would take you;” “I came all the way the down this page to say I love you;” I wonder where they are today—whether or not they are still living after almost eight decades…
Then came the teenage years. We thought we were “big shots” when we finally got to attend junior high school. We spent afternoons after school at our favorite drugstore drinking Cokes, braiding straws and experiencing puppy love. At night, at slumber parties at each other’s houses, we thoroughly discussed those “romances.”
By the eighth grade we were having group dates to attend football games and parties. (Our parents felt there was safety in numbers.) We learned to dance at the local “Teenage Club” sponsored by the “Mothers’ Circle” and were ready to float on the dance floor in our first long dresses, (on the arm of our o.a.o.)
By our junior year, television came to our town. It was easy for dates to find my house because we had one of the first television antennas on our roof, my mother always having been a “Show-biz” fan. Early television presented young women with styled short hair and modest dress. You did not hear bad words or see compromising situations. It was well-scrutinized by censors.
When I was a sophomore, a delegation of us from our town attended a camp in northern Ohio for Future Homemakers of America. The camp had few planned activities bu we didn’t care. We only wanted to row each other past the two lifeguards, Nate and George, medical students at the Ohio State University. In fact, we burned the midnight oil figuring out a way to be rescued by those laughing boys when our canoe tipped over in the shallow water beneath them…
We took lots of pictures at that camp, one of which continually shows up to embarrass me. It shows me scratching my left leg with all the mosquito bites on it and slugging down a large Coke at the same time.
Finally, we achieved enough credit to graduate, in spite of all the sock hops and hamburger suppers we attended. We had made it thought the difficult courses, (Even that doggone Latin and Plane geometry.)
My parents wanted to send me to the Cincinnati Conservatory to further my musical education. I chose instead to marry a soldier for Fort Knox, spending 50 years with him and welcoming two daughters, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Our 11 descendants are living in seven of these United States.
Life owes me nothing. I was able to work for five radio stations, seven newspapers and wrote seven books. I got all that I hoped for – simply because I went after it.
It makes me happy that you readers of the Record-Herald say you enjoy my column. Bless you and thank you!
Jean Mickle is a local resident who writes columns for the Record-Herald.
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