Junior High

November 2, 1965

November 2, 1965

I don’t have much of a defense here. I thoughtlessly exaggerated my victimization – why? To garner sympathy? To make myself sound more interesting? What’s worse, I did it where I could be overheard and hurt my aunt’s feelings. Is this incident why I’ve never ranked as one of her favorite nieces or nephews? Suffice to say, it didn’t help.

Aunt June with all the cousins
Aunt June with all the cousins

In truth, I didn’t mind sharing a room with her that much although odds are that conflict would’ve ensued as I got into adolescence and rock and roll. In 1965, our challenge wasn’t a clash of temperaments but rather lack of space.  Since my father was a Lutheran pastor, my family lived in whatever “parsonage” the parish provided. In Santa Clara, it was a tract home in a subdivision called Lawrence Meadows (adjacent to Killarney Farms. Funny the weird details I remember.)

Lawrence Meadows
Lawrence Meadows

The house was new and fancier than the parsonage where we lived in Elgin Iowa but it wasn’t a McMansion – at most, 1500 square feet. When my father’s younger sister June moved in, there were six people under one roof. So there was a smidgen of truth about my dearth of bureau drawers – just not enough to justify whining about my aunt.

My family, my aunt June and my grandmother pose in front of the parsonage in Santa Clara.
My family, my aunt June and my grandmother pose in front of the parsonage in Santa Clara.

I wasn’t above eavesdropping myself to catch a false friend talking behind my back. Eventually, I realized how self-destructive that impulse was. Why sneak around to hear something that will – at best – hurt my feelings and – at worst – destroy a friendship forever? Far better to assume the best of others – and try to behave so they can safely assume the best of me.

October 15, 1964

October 15, 1964

Dueling teachers

Hmmm, “Stage-struck.” Based on the sizzling synopsis, I’m baffled it failed to become an international sensation. Unfortunately, the title – the characters – and the story-line – are all too typical of what I generously considered “creative” writing at thirteen. My oeuvre was stories about junior high girls, one popular and one brainy, frequently involving show biz.

Sandy and I could make almost anything fun - or funny.
Sandy and I could make almost anything fun – or funny.

Mr. Uebel was one of my favorite teachers although I was a nervous wreck in his room, I was so desperate to impress him. Mr. Call, our Spanish teacher, was great too, as evidenced by their musical duel. The innocence of these times seems unreal from the perspective of 2017 yet I can unequivocally swear life actually was this innocent, this simple – at least at Jefferson Jr. High.

My family circa 1964
My family circa 1964

At thirteen, it never crossed my mind to rebel against a teachers or authority figure – and to the best of my knowledge, none of my classmates did either. Maybe Jefferson got lucky and employed teachers with big personalities who loved teaching.

This shot clarifies where I found inspiration for my fictional character - the unpopular brainy girl.
This shot clarifies where I found inspiration for my fictional character – the unpopular brainy girl.

Full disclaimer – far from being anything close to a radical dissident trouble-maker, I was a kiss-up sycophant who idolized my teachers. I made it my mission to be teacher’s pet (not exactly a fast track to popularity, in case you’re wondering). More often than not I succeeded, not because I was so special or brilliant (although I liked to think so) – I just tried harder.

My dad giving sister Janet a horsy ride on what was probably a family night.
My dad giving sister Janet a horsy ride on what was probably a family night.

Looking back, I regret how eager I was to be free of our Friday family nights. Little did I know that once gone, those nights could never be recaptured in quite the same way. I should have treasured and prolonged every last minute.

Unpopular nerd girl captured in family setting.
Unpopular nerd girl captured in family setting.

September 8, 1964

September 8, 1964_edited-1

$2.00 - My total net worth at the time.
$2.00 – My total net worth at the time.

 Funny how my perception of what constitutes a “problem” changed over the years. Today, for instance, it wouldn’t bother me a bit to be known as a brain – quite the contrary.

My geeky dud self around this time.
My geeky dud self around this time.

My mother telling me I’d be allowed to go to a Jr. High dance was a really big deal in a positive way.  I do not want to perpetuate the stereotype of a preacher forbidding an entire town of teens from dancing ala “Footloose.” As a Lutheran pastor’s daughter, I can unequivocally state my father never sought to impose his views on a community – or even a neighborhood. And, to the best of my knowledge, Lutherans have not been “forbidden” to dance in my lifetime.

With my nuclear family around this time.
With my nuclear family around this time.

That said, even in the sixties some stigma attached to dancing at least in the Midwest. I had a major temper tantrum one summer when I wasn’t allowed to go to a dance at Lake Okoboji with my cousins. More importantly – at least to me – because of this unwritten stigma about the clergy and dancing, I never got to go to a Father-Daughter Dance with my dad. He was uncomfortable with the idea.

With my handsome father.
With my handsome father.

As far as parents go, mine were the best and I have nothing to complain about. Whining about how I never got to dance with my dad is vain and silly, I know that. Still. I thought he was the handsomest man in the world and I would have loved to show him off and dance with him, just once.

My daughter with her father at her Father-Daughter high school dance.
My daughter with her father at her Father-Daughter high school dance.

August 27, 1970

August 27, 1970

DEBBIE CALLAN circa 1970
DEBBIE CALLAN circa 1970

The highlight of every summer in the early seventies was my trip to Santa Clara to see my old friends again. Since my parents moved to San Diego in early September of 69, I never had the opportunity to go “home” for a summer after college. I visited a week or two by myself, sleeping on my high school friend’s couches. It was never enough time to catch up – which, I guess, explains why – although we remained friends – we gradually drifted further apart.

SANDRA WALKER (HEGWOOD) 1970s
SANDRA WALKER (HEGWOOD) 1970s

If I’d stayed in Santa Clara, the changes might not have been as apparent as they were when I visited annually. When my family and I moved to California in the fifties, the Lawrence Expressway was Lawrence Station Road – two lanes bordered by a row of walnut trees, then a path, then the backyard fences of our housing tract. Simply by crossing Lawrence Station Road, I went from Santa Clara to Sunnyvale.

VANIA BROWN, 1970s
VANIA BROWN, 1970s

At some point, a fence went up, separating our house from what was becoming Lawrence Expressway. Before long, I was lost in the city I once knew like the back of my hand. Major landmarks like Jefferson Junior High disappeared, replaced (I think) by some business facility. I grew up believing institutions like public schools would be around forever.

Me, 1970
Me, 1970

We used to walk to Lawrence Square. Macdonald’s Department Store sold high-end clothing. There was a Safeway and a laundromat. Compare Lawrence Square now to what it looked like then. Does it tell the story of our city?

Lawrence Square today - Not my Lawrence Square of memories gone by
Lawrence Square today – Not my Lawrence Square of memories gone by.
Lawrence Station Road 1961
Lawrence Station Road 1961
Lawrence Expressway today. Much change? I'd say so!
Lawrence Expressway today. Much change? I’d say so!

 

 

May 11, 1965

May 11, 1965

The picture in the front of that diary - still hideous after all these years.
The picture in the front of that diary – still hideous after all these years.

 In 1965, I was foolishly over-optimistic about how easy it  would be to conquer my tendency to talk like it’s a race to the finish line (and the loser dies) whenever I speak to a group. The larger the group, the faster I gallop.

I call this facial expression "the Silent Scream".
I call this facial expression “the Silent Scream”.

Obviously, nerves – or more accurately fear – is the root of this malady. A doctor explained it’s due to a primal burst of adrenalin – speaking in public triggers a “fight or flight” response in my reptilian brain.

Given my father, a Lutheran pastor, delivered a sermon to a large seated congregation every Sunday, you’d think I might acquire this skill naturally – by osmosis.  I did not.

Mom! Kathy is doing all the talking again!

I made up for it in small groups – such as my nuclear family – where I felt comfortable. There, I morphed into “Chatty Cathy”, a nickname I loathed. It was all Janet could do to get a word in edgewise.

Word in edgewise

My father recorded us after dinner and doing family devotions. I belted out every verse of every hymn I knew by heart, barely pausing to catch my breath. In my monotone shriek, it had to be excruciating. My father tried to slow me down. “It’s Janet’s turn. Let Janet sing.”

She's too little!

(atonal shrieking)

Joy to the world

 

Let Earth recieve her KING

And on and on, all recorded for posterity. Clearly, I was desperate to entertain them lest they decide I’d become redundant now that Baby Janet was on the scene. Photographic evidence of my terrifying ordeal can be seen in my gallery, “Kathy Vs. the Alien Baby”.

 

 

 

April 24, 1966

APril 24, 1966

Santa Cruz Beach postcard
Santa Cruz Beach postcard

This is another one of those splendid spring days Sandy and I shared, when not a whole lot happened. I  probably wouldn’t recall it at all, if I hadn’t written it down (and I think the beach photos posted here might’ve been taken today). I can’t imagine what we found so hilarious about “Rockin’ Robin” – we were probably punchy after a day in the sun and surf with our best friend. As usual, my perennial fear made it into the mix – “I bored her” – but Sandy’s mother was sweet and reassuring.  We were both barely fifteen years old. It was a good time to be young in a city like Santa Cruz.

Sandy on the beach
Sandy on the beach

For whatever reason, my family didn’t go to the beach a lot, at least not that I remember. Our family outings – rare on Sundays, a working day for my Lutheran pastor father – more often than not took us to Mt. Cross (a Lutheran Bible camp in the mountains) or a local tour of model homes. We weren’t looking to buy – we lived in the parsonage, which was owned by the church – but we loved to pretend we were moving into our own house. My sisters and I competed over who got the best imaginary bedroom.

Me circa 1966
Me circa 1966

I haven’t been to Santa Cruz in decades but I’m sure – like the rest of the Silicon Valley – it’s nothing like the Santa Cruz I remember. I invite anyone who reads this and has been there recently to share their impressions about how it’s changed – what it’s like today.

Sandy and me on the beach.
Sandy and me on the beach.

Is the boardwalk still there?

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The roller coaster?

Roller Coaster

March 19, 1965

 


March 19, 1965

Perhaps Sandy and I shared a deviously clever rationale for the eraser scam – but I doubt it. The truth is, occasionally – maybe frequently, depending on your point of view – Sandy and I could be extremely unique. Creative? Original? Okay, off the charts weird.

Sandy & Kathy2

Apparently, our acquisition of the eraser was a major coup – why? And what, exactly, was the purpose of the Corridor Stomp?  If I put on my amateur shrink hat, I suspect the aggressive march was our way to feel powerful and in control of a situation – Junior High – that was beyond our control.

Sandy & Kathy1

To me, something else stands out even more than our weirdness – our innocence, particularly by today’s standards. When I wrote this entry, Sandy and I were fourteen. In our own minds, we were BAD-ASS rebels without a cause. Kathy and Sandy equals explosion!

Sandy and I, approximately 1965
Sandy and I, approximately 1965

How big was our explosion? We didn’t shoplift, fool around with older boys, deface public property, hot-wire cars or joyride. We stalked – unobserved – down hallways and tricked school supplies out of hapless janitors. Woo-hoo, stand aside Bonnie and Clyde, here come Kathy and Sandy – hide your chalk and bar the doors, or kiss that pencil sharpener goodbye.

Re-enacting the Corridor Stomp years later.
Re-enacting the Corridor Stomp years later.

I don’t regret our extreme innocence. In the fifty years that follow, we’ll find more than enough time and opportunity to lose it. We were fortunate to be as naïve as we were in a world where childhood shortens with every new generation.

No one over 12 years old allowed

I don’t think we missed out on anything nor did we do actual harm amusing ourselves with our naïve rebellions. I never feared being “a little weird” when I was with Sandy, I was too busy laughing and having a blast.

animated-explosion-image-0009

animated-laughing-image-0175

January 12, 1965

 

january-12-1965

After all these years, I still remember how embarrassed I felt when Mr. Mestermacher accused me of passing off someone else’s work as my own (whether or not it was justified is another matter). The assignment in question was to sculpt an animal and another object. I decided to do a bird in a bird-cage. I should’ve suspected this was an ill-advised choice by the way Mr. Mestermacher hovered nearby, smirking every time the bars of my bird-cage failed to support the ceiling, causing it to collapse and smash the bird.

Hiding behind my talented sisters.
Hiding behind my talented sisters.

Desperate the night before it was due, I took the problem to my mother and she sculpted a dog with a bone – not only was it a better idea, her execution was far superior to anything I’d ever turned in to Mr. Mestermacher. Consequently, it’s not so surprising he falsely accused me of having my sister Janet do my work. Despite being 2 years younger, Janet was artistically talented enough that it was not only possible – it was highly probable – she sculpted my dog with a bone. The fact that he was wrong – Janet had nothing to do with it – allowed me a smidgen of outrage at the indignity of his accusation even though – in retrospect – he had my number.

Behind those talented sisters again.
Behind those talented sisters again.

This experience turned me off art for life; the closest I came to the subject again was an art history class in college. I didn’t sketch or draw in my spare time like other adolescent girls – I gave up. This was not a huge loss to the art world. Even if I had the discipline to practice diligently for years (I didn’t), I was never going to be another Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo.

Janet, myself and Joyce in front of our Santa Clara house, circa 1965.
Janet, myself and Joyce in front of our Santa Clara house, circa 1965.

My father was right – we all have different gifts. If anything, being a wash-out at both music (Music Disaster ) and art honed my focus on writing – the one arena that gave me positive feedback.

we-all-have-different-gifts

 

January 2, 1965

january-2-1965

With grandparents (whose money I spent on pop records!)
With grandparents (whose money I spent on pop records!)

 Given the privacy concerns expressed in this entry, it’s ironic I post these entries on the web for anybody to read. I worried about others reading my diaries back then because I used them to vent my rage when I felt abused or insulted. To demonstrate my wrath in these early days, I appended Witch to my tormenter’s name – as in Jani-Witch, Joyce-Witch, etc. It was the worst I could think of to say.

(Over time, I said worse things, in entries that will not be selected for this blog.)
Over time, I said worse things, in entries that will not be selected for this blog

Sometimes I wondered what would happen to my diaries if I died. I didn’t want anyone to read them but I didn’t want them destroyed either. Why bother to write all these careful entries if they’re all going to end up in the fireplace? On the other hand, some of my thoughts and feelings would be hurtful if read by the wrong person – and just about everybody I know became the wrong person at least once.

My family circa 1965 (I think)
My family circa 1965 (I think)


Occasionally, I willed my diaries to somebody I felt particularly close to. At the time, I regarded willing my diaries as a privilege to be bestowed upon some lucky person. In reality, nobody was begging me to bequeath multiple volumes to them.

After approximately 20 years, I switched from diaries to blank books. The photo below shows most but not all of them. Not only are they nearly impossible to read due to poor penmanship and weird abbreviations, they consume formidable storage space.

These are some, but not all of my diaries
These are some, but not all of my diaries

So, what do I do with them on my deathbed? I still don’t know. It bothers me to picture them burning but I don’t know anyone gung ho enough to archive them – and I’m not sure it’s wise to take that risk anyway, since there’s something there to hurt almost everybody I care about. That’s not how I want to be remembered – but at the same time, I do want to be remembered – otherwise, why write these books at all?

dear-diary

After all this time, you’d think I’d have some answers but I don’t.

 

 

 

October 28, 1964

october-28-1964

 

My father with the women in his life
My father with the women in his life

 To say my sisters and I adored my father would be a huge understatement. In our all-female household, he was the sun we all orbited around. The reason I started writing stories in the first place was to please him. Before I trotted off to school in second grade, I placed the latest pages of my first novel – printed in pencil on lined paper –on his pillow. It was titled “LOST” (yeah, the TV series stole it from me.) It told the thrilling tale of twelve children of a “steamstress” (ibid), all kidnapped by two evil guys. Instead of escaping however, these children opted to convert their kidnappers to Christianity. Yes, I was definitely the daughter of a Lutheran minister.

I'm not sure which Bible story this is, but Jani and our dog are getting a ride.
I’m not sure which Bible story this is, but Jani and our dog are getting a ride.

We used to act out Bible stories for entertainment. The Good Samaritan was a favorite. Daddy played the victim on the side of the road. I must have been a Pharisee since Janet was definitely the Good Samaritan. Daddy was hugely amused when – after retrieving a glass of water from the kitchen to save his life – she invariably stopped and drank half of it herself before offering it to him.

sANDY + Kathy = KANDY
sANDY + Kathy = KANDY

The more worldly side of my life at school was all about me and Sandy. We combined our names and gave our friendship a name – Kandy.  We loved to create things, in this case our own dictionary, although I’m pretty sure we never used a single word from it in real life. In addition to our dictionary, we made drafted plans for an elaborate campaign to make ourselves popular – needless to say, a total failure – but I’ll get to that in another diary entry.

how-to-be-popular

 


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