Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The EHHS Social Order – 10 – Meadowbrook Moms

Before embarking on our Sophomore year at EHHS, a few words about the Meadowbrook Moms.  Generalizations are neither fair nor particularly accurate but, I think in the case of our Meadowbrook Moms, some generalizations might be useful to help understand how some of our juvenile perceptions of class and taste originally developed.

The majority of us were only one or two generations removed from a sort of frontier farm life.   A lot of our parents grew up in smaller suburban homes like those found in the older Poly neighborhoods and farther south.  In fact, a lot of our Moms and Dads, grew up in Polytechnic and graduated from Poly High School.  A smaller number of them grew up in the Handley area and an increasing number of them, as they moved into the newer Meadowbrook neighborhoods, came from elsewhere but, usually not other parts of Ft. Worth.   

Former classmates have told of their more modest home lives, including one household that made do with slicing their Snickers into 6-pieces for a taste of something sweet after dinner—Snickers were 5¢ then.  Others told of how special the family treat was when they got to go out and eat at one of the hamburger stands, six to a bathroom, etc.  For others of us, such things were not seen as anything special.  Small differences, to be sure but, quite large when experienced by children.

Save for perhaps a few of the Brandt family youngsters, none of us lived in lavish circumstances, but such things then, as they are now, are relative.  So, in retrospect, what I recall as social posturing in our old neighborhoods was really pretty small stuff and probably reflected the ambitions of some mothers who, themselves may have felt that their own early life circumstances had somewhat cheated them….the Depression, followed by WWII.  The moms were about 36-45 when we started our 3-year run at EH. 

While we were in school, the Brandt houses on Oak Hill were probably at the top of our 1960s East Side housing terms of size and panache.  However, I recall only Kirk (’61) and Gwen Brandt(’65) as being in the hallways with us in the early 1960s and I never knew how they were related, nor if there were other Brandt kids around at the time that I recall. The clipping of Gwen recounting her recent trips to their Barbados second home was about as socially exotic as it got during our East Side years. Her words rather refreshingly reflect a youthful innocence regarding her privileged her, second homes in Barbados was simply life...hers.

The rest of our East Side housing stock and thus, our appearance of relative social standing was fairly modest as has been previously described in the "Our Houses" chapter.  So, the question of how some of our moms decided to set some of their princesses apart from others is an interesting one.  Of course, as described in the previous "Fort Worth History" piece, there was/is a Fort Worth social order and essentially all of that one played out on the West Side in neighborhoods much larger than ours.

Although my mother worked during my EH/MJH years, I think a larger number of 1950s moms probably mirrored some version of June Cleaver and Harriett Nelson, staying at home to raise the  And for those whose fathers had started making larger incomes during the 1950s, notions of country club memberships, women's clubs, and maybe even joining the Junior League almost certainly danced through their heads.  With the kids in school all day, there was for some, time to play and dream larger dreams.

It's my opinion that having been children of the Depression and having their most energetic formative years taken up with WWII concerns, these moms had only the scenes from 1930s Dick Powell-Myrna Loy movies and a kind of gossipy chatter between the "ladies" to form their notions of polite society--it hadn't been something they grew up with.  And it was almost certainly in these social associations where notions of prepping some of our girls to "debut" were hatched.

Unfortunately, the way it played out was hurtful to many...more on that next....


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waste Not - Was the mantra for our parents who were children of the Depression. We certainly had to clean our plates at every meal. And whatever material items were to be thrown away or discarded was intensively examined.
If it was broken, it would be set aside to be fixed at some time in the future. (Guess that is why we say Fixing' To a lot)
If you lived in a household that had managed to set aside some discretionary funds, they were rarely spent due to memories of being without.
We were a captive audience to their stories of chores before and after school; walking miles to school in deep snow; hand-me-down clothes, going to bed hungry, etc.
It was a challenge for our pimple-faced heads to relate. But our parents simply wanted the best for us; since they had done without. Today thankfully, remnants of those values and work ethics, can still be discovered in our children and grandchildren.