Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The EHHS Social Order – 9.2 – Womanclature

Part 1 of 4

Let’s face it…at 14, essentially none of us knew what the heck to do with that boy girl stuff at MJH but, as Harold Ramos’s famous line goes, “we were willing to learn.”  However, owing to the 18-month differential start we got during that puberty business a couple of years earlier, the struggling boys were just loping along behind all those racy girls.  That’s not to say there weren’t some precocious lads however, opportunities were fleeting and often befuddling.

That’s also not to say all our young ladies were racy or racing…they weren’t.  A recurring theme a few of our distaff former classmates shared with me has been that they were very “churchy, prudish, and perhaps more troublingly….good girls.”  There was that traumatic experience of being locked in a closet alone with Charlie Bruce following an adverse “spin the bottle” decision.  Mom rode to the rescue!  On the other hand, if you recall Charlie at that stage, her response wasn’t altogether unreasonable.  A few years later, while living in one of the LA beach communities, I encountered a popular updated version of the game, called, spin the b****  …well, I digress.

Now in general, the 1950s was a confusing decade in which to come of age.  As youngsters, we were in a kind of time-warp consisting of June Cleaver, Harriett Nelson, and Annette juxtaposed with Marilyn, Jayne, and Bridget…and some of those really strange looking girls in the raunchy little magazines hidden behind the “True Detectives” on the 3-L package store magazine rack.  Ward and June slept in twin beds; so did Ozzie and Harriett…or, at least on TV they did.  O.K. so, we’re supposed to try and get close but, not too damned close…hmm.

Our fifties “media” was 3-channels of black & white TV, Life magazine, and whatever fuzzy cheesecake pictures might have occasionally found their way into the Star-Telegram pages.  Then there were those ads for the Jacksonville Highway honky-tonks.

One of the more puzzling aspects of young womanhood during our maturing years may have been those protuberances up front.  By the time 9th grade rolled in, we had only been aware of them for a couple of years, at most.  Learning what in the heck they were about was still an experience in process.  Of course, we had seen how Mom and maybe a sister or two prepped theirs for public outings but, everywhere else we looked, we saw a variety of shapes and styles. 

Movies broadcast on TV then often featured Myrna Loy so, we got a 1930s image; then the 1940s brought us a lot of  Donna Reed films to help with our visual calibration; however, since the 1950s films were still new, we didn’t see many 1950s movies on TV.  But, there were plenty of contemporary TV shows like Grouchos’ You Bet Your Life, and Bob Cummings’ Love That Bob where we could try to fine-tune our visual calibrations....but, it wasn't easy!

Notwithstanding Bette Perot's dubious efforts at enlightenment, I suppose most of us got a similar Victorian-style introduction to sexuality…which is to say, not much.  Many, perhaps most of our parents married quite young and likely got a pretty truncated introduction to the subject themselves as they were quickly caught up in WWII.  Except for those airmen who rushed into a wartime marriage, the aircrews were essentially all virgins when they served…why else would you think they so enthusiastically embraced the “nose art” phenomena? 

And what else would explain Detroit’s manic focus on tail fins?  If you bought their explanation of it being a tribute to rocket fins and nose cones, think again.

This was confusing stuff and it fell to our generation to figure it out....

Now, I know I promised cliques and tits in the last article’s tease but, this one got to be kind of fun….so, cliques next.  Meanwhile, if tits offends, then consider the effort of a current day college lad who has been pondering the same old question….he came up with 262 alternatives.  Perhaps more amusing…I recognize most of them.

O.K. Burton...you and your mob are up next....


James said...

Dang, Gus...You've outdone yourself with this blog article. Great stuff. Makes me want to post my blog article about my first girlfriend back in the '50's. It was a most memorable relationship. 56 years later, it seems like only yesterday.

Gus said...

As you probably surmise, I'm laughing all the way through these pieces, while documenting a few puzzling things that occurred during those few years on the East Side. For whatever reasons, even though they were a brief and relatively inconsequential set of experiences, they've occupied a small part of my memory for a long time.