Since its inception, figuring out how our cliques came
together and what bound them so tightly for so long has been one of the
objectives of this blog.Over the years,
a number of films on the topic suggest that the juvenile clique phenomena isn’t
an isolated occurrence.I observed it in
action once again as my own offspring went through the pubescent school gauntlet of
Approaching this topic in a reasonable manner has been a
challenge since it involves a number of my old friends from those long-ago days.They were good kids, some of them could be
occasional twits, and for the most part they did well in their post EH lives.Nevertheless, as a group, there was something
about them that had long puzzled me….and, apparently my thoughts were shared by
others.Several current day fellow
travelers recounted their own recollections of them and as usual, differing points
of view yielded different perceptions.
Interestingly, in digging a little deeper into the
psychology of teen-age cliques, I found a wealth of information suggesting that
what we experienced is very common.That
makes things easier because as former Texas Governor Ann liked to say, "we couldn’t 'hep' it".
By the time we understood whether we were a MJH in-crowder
or not, it was already a fait accompli and one, that to my knowledge,
changed very little throughout our trek toward EH graduation. Dr. Marie
Hartwell-Walker, wrote a scholarly piece on the “Click or Clique” phenomena that
has made considering this topic much easier.She provides reasonable cover for me to thump some of my old friends for
their adolescent behavior while acknowledging that mostly everyone outgrew
it...but, not without some scars.
Still, when I’ve brought the topic up with
a selected few former classmates over the past several years (nearly 50-years on), none of them
were without comment. Well, none except most of the former teen clique perps, who have
almost universally eschewed sharing their own comments on the subject.H-m-m.
Broaching the topic has been a delicate
matter even at this late date.However,
to their credit, those who have shared some of their recollections with me have
done so with adult moderation and have made good use of the language to clearly
convey their thoughts so, I’m more at ease dealing with the topic now.
O.K., at MJH, our future EH Class of
1963 lead clique were the cheerleaders, Gay Burton, Celia Beall, and Julie
Hudson.Closely affiliated with those
three were Kay Humphrey, Carole Stallcup, Carolyn Marcotte, Candy Woodward, Sharon
Ballem, and maybe a couple others.To a newly arriving 13-year old boy entering the MJH school already hooked
on the notion of having a cheerleader girlfriend sometime down the line, our
MJH girls were real goddesses in flowing flannel dresses and flying pom-poms.Any of the 3 of them would do, since they were all attractive, smart, and full of it. But Julie was
too short for my tall frame; Celia too quiet and a little too well, awesome; so, that left Gay
who was neither too quiet nor too short, although pretty awesome in her own right.Unfortunately, Gay seemed seriously in "like" with that skinny little kid, Roby Morris for
reasons I couldn’t understand at that tender age; or, it seemed that Steve
Means was always nearby.Well, ….another
unrequited love, and so it goes and so it went.
Audacious lad that I was, it never
occurred to me that I might not be in the right “league” for any of those gals.That’s probably because of my parents’
constant encouragement to aim high and providing wise advice such as, “everyone else puts their pants
on one leg at a time, too,” whatever that meant.At age 13 I had never found anything too
challenging to give up on without having a go at it, or her.By the way, at that young age, you can put
your pants on both legs at once, but it can’t be done on every try….
Anyway, as one of my confidants
described her, Gay was the “Queen Bee” of that lead clique and she was clearly
the livewire of the gang.There was a
second clique that was somewhat more subdued but, no less attractive. However, they lacked two things Gay’s group
had; one, none were cheerleaders and two, they were very, very quiet so, it was
difficult for them to gain and hold the attention of very shallow, mostly unfocused 13-14 year
old boys…and, that was name of the game at that point in time.
The second clique seemed to be mostly the girls shown in the
1959 picture below from the Stars Over Meadowbrook show that year. They were Carol Eldridge, Vicki Held, Jane Welborn, Gail DeVore, Paula Acuff, Judy Hill, and Harriet Hamilton. More on them in the next installment.