Dad was the Softie; Mom was the Disciplinarian

I never went to a high school dance that my parents weren’t chaperoning. My parents had rules in high school where my dad wouldn’t tell us when to come home, he would just ask us when we were coming home and then we better be there when we said we would. And we better not say that we would be coming home at two in the morning.

My dad was the softie of the two. My mom was the disciplinarian. We lived with my grandfather, and when I was in fourth grade my grandma died. So my dad moved us all in to my grandfather’s house so that my mom could take care of him. She was the only girl of four boys. So when we lived in the house, my grandfather had his own rooms. He was a very tough, Irish grandfather. We were scared to death of him because he was always yelling at us. We never minded him though. We never hated him or anything. Each year as he got older, he mellowed and we all loved him.

Every other family had four or five kids. We played on the street. At night we gathered under the telephone pole that had the light on it and played hide and seek and hopscotch, jacks, lots of contests. I was queen of the jacks.
I was a big wimp. I liked reading, but not movies. I helped baby-sit my younger brothers and I helped deliver newspapers with my brothers.

I loved high school. I was pretty active. It was a very small school. There were only forty-two kids in our class. There were only sixteen boys. So we were a close-knit group and we had a lot of parties. All we did was dance. We had school dances on Wednesdays and public dances on Saturday in the town. So we did a lot of dancing. We had soda shops we hung out at.

When I was in first grade, a nun sent me up to a twelfth grade class to get a box of scissors. I couldn’t go into the classroom because I was afraid of those twelfth graders, so I sat on the steps and cried. Then she came and picked me up and put me into the classroom and I hated her after that.

We went to school from eight until three. I walked home for lunch. We never had recess or gym. I did do gymnastics as a kid for many years. Gymnastics in those days was like German men’s gymnastics. Lots of calisthenics, rings, tumbling. None of this dance or beam stuff.