Friday, May 30, 2014

The EHHS Social Order – 9.3 – Cliques.1

Part 2 of 4

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 grades 7-12. 

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., some "clicks"

No comments: