Friday, August 16, 2013

The EHHS Social Order - 6 – 6th Grade & (Gasp!) Puberty

Well, the training wheels were just about to come off now.  A sixth grade teacher told us that the child we left with her in the fall will be a much different young person in the spring.  And she was so right.  We had had our little pal with us for 11-years at that point and for the most part she had changed little during those years.  At the end of the 6th grade year, we had a much more mature young lady just ready to embark on adolescence.  That trek wasn’t much different than what wife and I recalled from our own treks.

To my knowledge, we did not stand for class pictures beyond the 6th grade, so the pictures used above for illustration are typical classes from different sources...there are no familiar faces in them.  They are here just to illustrate the fine changes that occurred during those critical 6th - 8th grade years; changes about which we may have little memory and no photographic record.  Pictures like these were always arranged by the photographer and teacher to place the tall kids in the back, shorter ones in front.  Note the annual change in positions until the 8th grade when most of the girls were in front....the boys had caught up!

Biology dictates the adolescent years more than any form of reason ever could.  Girls got their admission tickets about 18-months before boys got theirs.  So, the 6th grade was much more trauma for the girls than it was for the boys.  For the most part, a boy’s 6th grade was just another 5th…a continuation of play, baseball cards, bikes, and such.    But something was going on with the girls that we hadn’t seen before.  They tended to turn more serious and some of them shot up in height, where all the years before, they had been about the same size as the boys.

Almost overnight, at least two of the girls that I had known for nearly 4-years towered over me.  One of them had always had a bit of an edge to her, where the other was and remained very quiet.  I teased them both, as did the other boys and Rita always had an angry retort but Janet seemed kind of embarrassed and remained silent….probably hurt.

One of my EH correspondents told a similar story of her having been ostracized from the group of “popular” girls during that memorable 6th grade year.  And it’s a hurt that still resides with her to this day, albeit securely tucked away from today’s curiosities.  Another EH correspondent told of her having been suddenly shunned in her 6th grade year by a close friend of several early elementary years.  Reasons unknown, but both EH ladies got their growth spurts early and towered over their classmates for a year or so.

By some means I never knew, near the end of the year news was in the air that we were to have an end of the year party….and, we could take our dates.  Dates?  Well, that was a subject 6th grade boys hadn’t given much thought.  We knew what a date was but, we hadn’t ever before, been confronted with having to “get” one !

Now, there was a nifty little girl, new to our 6th grade Richland class named Kay Sturkie.  Kay was one of those front row pixies in the group pictures….petite, beautiful, and lively.  She was on the pep squad, cheering for us gridiron heroes that fall.  I was the star QB--this should be a snap. 

O.K., it’s spring and I need a date…Kay, of course !  Nope.  My best friend Stanley beat me to her…he asked Kay first and I was crushed.  Shot down first time out of the gate.  So, I didn’t go to that damned party (a picnic somewhere, IIRC), thus apparently starting a practice of not going anywhere without a date.  Hmm, wonder if that may explain why by the end of EH days, I had dated 9 or 10 different lovely Highlanders.

Meanwhile at Poly Elementary, McCoy was stuck with Guthrie as his 6th grade party date and at Meadowbrook Elementary, there was a full-blown formal production called the May Fete at the end of 6th grade.  Recent feedback has informed me that others of our early EHHS classes from other elementary schools just now getting their first look at the Meadowbrook shindig are blown away after seeing the images from this affair.  It made Life Magazine in 1958!

No clue what might have gone on at the Handley, Tandy, and Sagamore Hill elementary schools.  If anyone wants to fill in this unknown, be my guest.

Now, the stage was set for our developing Social Order.  It clearly involved boys and girls doing things together and for some odd reason, perhaps just contemporary fashion, for a few years it involved White or Ecru sports jackets and dance lessons.

In short, the 6th grade was defined thusly....



Anonymous said...

I think that I have personally gone through puberty several times. When doe it end? DMc

Gus said...

I counseled my offspring that a boy/man is very simple to understand. Think of him as a bird dog...nose down, tail up, moving quickly in his quest for only 3-things in no particular order. One is food; two is a toilet; and three .....