Friday, January 23, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.1 – (More) Meadowbrook Moms

My musings about our moms tend to focus on how they might have interacted with one another and how those interactions might have affected our own social connections.  While they certainly had significant control over that aspect of our lives through the junior high years, I'm fairly certain their influence significantly faded after we started at EH fall 1960.  By then, we had substantially sorted out our own social preferences and had certainly done so as we started dating one another.  For the more precocious of us, dating might have started as early as age 13, or grade 8.  I think a common starting age for our real dating involving some preliminary romancing and testing of limits probably conincided with our obtaining that magnificent freedom ticket, a driver’s license…about age 16.  Maybe a year, or so earlier for the girls.

Partly due to our previously described staggered arrivals at puberty, boys were at a huge disadvantage to the girls in their own class during those seminal early dating years.  More about that in the next article or two.  Still, it's worth noting a few traces of the moms' involvement that survive, and appear as indistinct hints in our ancient scrapbooks.Published in a couple of c.1957-60 Meadowlark school newspapers are references to some of the parties, their hosts, and their venues where celebrations of various milestones and holidays were marked.  There is enough detail in the student authored newspaper articles to make a few assumptions about the social atmosphere of that time.

For instance, two of the 8th grade girls (future EH Class of 1962) sent 88 invitations to a party they (their moms, most likely) were hosting at the Sagamore Hill Rec center.  Since their class numbered about twice as many as the 88 invitees, the clear inference is that half or more of their class did not get an invitation.  Although the reasons for omission could likely have been perfectly legitimate, the omissions could also have caused a significant amount of heartburn among those excluded from the list.  In contrast, the school-sponsored dances were open to anyone with a quarter and a desire to attend ....another Meadowlark article reported attendance at one of those school dances to also be about half the student body or, over 300.

Further reflections of our moves toward maturity and socialization were to be seen in the active attention given to clothing styles and a number of fashion style shows featured in the school newspapers of the day. 
Home Economics classes were popular and provided (girls mostly) the opportunity to showcase their budding homemaking skills as they prepared food and beverages to be served at a number of school functions.  Developing real men of the time didn’t take these home-ec classes…pity, we were dumb and missed a great opportunity to tilt the numbers advantage our way.

The 1950s was a decade of stay at home moms many of whom, after working during the war effort as young women, were encouraged by our government to quit working and raise families.  Some of those young post WWII families were ours although some of our peers’ parents could be up to 10-15 years older.  In some cases, that difference in parents’ ages could contribute to significant differences in our living standards since they had been in the workforce longer and had achieved some additional growth as a result.

During the 1950s, those families starting to see growing incomes, began to have disposable funds sufficient enough to join or consider joining one of the Ft. Worth country clubs.  Self-employed could deduct the cost as a business expense and those I recall of our classmates’ families that belonged to some of the clubs tended to be small business owners.  The Ft. Worth area country clubs had been established around the city starting roughly with the 1911 opening of River Crest located near the western terminus of West 7th Street in what was to become Ft. Worth’s most prestigious neighborhood of the same name.  Star-Telegram publisher, Amon Carter was one of that neighborhood’s early residents.  The next blog article is a summary of those country clubs.

The effect one of our peer classmate’s membership in those clubs had on our East Side social order was minimal and subject to the youngster’s own standing within our class.  Probably contributing to that situation was the fact that the clubs were all located in other parts of the city posing a bit of a restraint to easy, neighborhood access.  We had the city-owned Meadowbrook CC, which was a modest facility by comparison.  Nonetheless, the MBCC clubhouse was a common venue for parties and dances both school supported and private mini-shindigs.

As an indication of just how pervasive the influence of the junior high cliques could be, my Mother accepted participation on my behalf with some other Moms as they planned to host an invitation only Christmas dance at the MBCC.  Trouble was, she didn’t bother to consult with me first and sprung it on me along with a printed invitation noting the sponsoring youngsters.  There was certainly no problem with those youngsters, except they were NOT in the clique I was seeking to align with.  This was a horrible surprise to an uncertain 14-year old and, given the strength of those adolescent cliques could spell the death knell to about a year’s posturing to that point.  Amusing now, tragic then…and a sad commentary.

Reading some of these old bits of ephemera now provides an occasional hint of things to come; the things we couldn't have known or even recognized then.  One such instance is found in the nearby column that mentions the Women's Club as a venue for the MJH 9th grade end of year dance with music to be provided by "some college boys."

The significance of the "Women's Club" reference, I'm sure went right by nearly all of us.  Someone associated with MJH PTA either was a member of the Fort Worth Women's Club or had the notion to use the facility for the dance.  The Women's Club was established very early in the 20th century and is/was a solid connection to "old Ft. Worth" society activities.  In my mind, this connection suggests the reason so much attention was paid to getting our younger incarnations tamed, into white sport-coats, and introduced to dancing lessons and pretty party dresses.  More on this in the next few chapters....




love&lollipops said...

Gus, the Woman's Club had no "Social Connection"...many of our mothers were members of the Jr Woman's Club and went on to become members of the Woman's Club as they grew older...that's why the Woman's Club was available to be used for dances. I remember being in plays for the Speech/Drama Club (a part of the Jr Woman's Club when I was very young, modeling in their style shows and doing other things there. Taddie Curl Hamilton, who is, I think President of the Woman's Club today, was the daughter of Virginia Curl a member also of the JWC and WC. Susan and Emily Beyette were the daughters of Betty Beyette. Those are just a few of the ones that were Meadowbrook girls...Emily graduated from Poly.
As for Country Clubs, Glen Garden on the South side of Poly was a popular and beautiful place with a great swimming pool long before Ridglea was ever thought of!

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, the original location of the Paschal High School was only two blocka away from the Fort Worth Woman's Club (which is on Pennsylvania Ave. across from the Harris Hospital complex). It was originally one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Fort Worth, and close to the legendary mansions on Summit Ave. I have no doubt that some of the wives and daughters of those wealthy people in the area were members of the Woman's Club.

In 1955, Paschal moved to a new location at the corner of Berry Street and Forest Park Avenue. I have known women in southwest Fort Worth who went to the original Paschal High School location and have been members of the Woman's Club.

Gus said...

There were members of the JWC and WC on the East Side, too. Mrs. McClung was president in 1955. Taddie's mom and now Taddie are, or have been presidents themselves. I'm sure there were a number of others. Those memberships play into this Social Order study only in the sense that those clubs provided a focal point for ladies to meet others from other parts of the city and begin to engage in some of the many charitable interests that have long been a part of Ft. Worth adult social life.

I wrote someone recently that Ft. Worth actually never developed a high society in the sense that both fortune and lineage merge into the personages of a very few, as it does in some of the East Coast bastions. Instead, we developed more as a tradesmen's community as the local businesses grew over time and developed a sort of set of interwoven mutual dependencies. Some grew wealthy of course and some liked to strut their stuff more than others but, I found a comment made by an Eastern society matron visiting with a Texas socialite about 60-years ago, amusing. The Texas lady was pointing out her heritage went back 3 or 4 generations; to which the Eastern lady sniffed, "my dear, where I live, we have Irish that go back further than that."