October 10, 2014


the-trouble-with-trouble My absolute all-time favorite game growing up was dress-up (today, it’s called role-play but it’s the same thing.)  I was up for a part in any fantasy – princess, boarding school, teen-ager, Rapunzel and Bonanza were perennial favorites. The only role I couldn’t relate to was horsy. Then as now, the appeal of prancing around pretending to be a palomino eluded me. For starters, playing horsy pretty much precludes costumes unless you count tucking a fake tail in the rear of your pedal-pushers (I don’t).these-bitches-need-some-class

I have only two requirements for a good game of dress-up.

  1. I play a human (no horsys!)
  2. I wear a costume – and hopefully a wig.

Beyond that, anything goes.

shopping-for-more-useless-stuffIt’s a shame that dress-up tends to be cast aside before adolescence. It’s all but forgotten by the time we’re adults. IMHO, this is a real shame. Luckily, like riding a bike, the requisite skills reside inside you, ready to resume active duty if called. If you can get past your self-consciousness for a  trip into fun and silliness, dress up is even more fun to play as a grown-up.


Technically, each of us gets only one life to live. Dress up role play lets you dabble in as many lives as you can make up. If – like me – sometimes you get sick of being yourself, take a break. Cut loose and be somebody else – someone without a mortgage, congested kids, or pets pooping on the rug. All you’ve got to lose is your dignity. Isn’t it about time?


If you’re over 18 or past the age of consent: Dress-up role-play is unlikely to be hazardous to your sex life, if you get my drift. Enough said.


September 30, 1965

September 30, 1965




To my mind, the Wilcox High cafeteria operated like a caste system. The highest caste – cheerleaders, athletes, homecoming queens and student government honchos – held court on the kidney-shaped Senior Lawn, an area so sacrosanct even their fellow seniors dared not sidle onto the hallowed grass unless expressly invited.


Vague memories of how I envisioned the Senior lawn
Vague memory of how I envisioned the Senior lawn.


Descending castes fanned out from the metal tables under the cafeteria’s fluorescent lights to the picnic tables and benches surrounding the snack bar in the quad.


Recalling a normal day on the Wilcox Quad
Recalling a normal day on the Wilcox Quad.


Inside the cafeteria, you could spot the brains by the books piled beside their trays. The low-riders laughed louder and indulged in more food fights. The hippies preferred the lesser lawn outside where they could skip in circles and blow bubbles. The surfers sunned themselves at the picnic tables.


Sandra re-enacts buying a sandwich in the snack bar line.
Sandra re-enacts buying a sandwich in the snack bar line.


The Untouchables were marooned between the Special Needs table and the line of trash cans between the boys and girls bathrooms. They were the lowest caste, miserable souls yoked together by nothing more than the fact no one else wanted them.


Sandra finds a sign suggesting life will improve after high school.
Sandra finds a sign suggesting life will improve after high school.


Anybody and everybody could gauge your caste in a glance based on where you ate lunch. Once assigned to a caste, it was almost impossible to move up. Moving down was not such a problem.

Kathy re-enacts the loneliness of the Untouchables
Kathy re-enacts the loneliness of the Untouchables

Sandy and I flirted with the fringes of various castes without adhering to any for long. Something about the group dynamic just didn’t work for us. This was surprising, since my Scandinavian forebears are famous for their community-minded  club and choir culture. A chorus of perfectly blended voices, none of which stand out or call undue attention to themselves, is the Danish ideal. Their sense of group unity is one of the reasons Denmark is ranked the happiest country on earth.

The Scandinavian joiner gene lies dormant in me. I’m acutely uncomfortable in any group larger than three and I far prefer one-on-one.  That said, it’s easier to be an outsider if you’re lucky enough to find a fellow solitary soul with a huge imagination and quirky sense of humor – someone like Sandy. The truth is, we had a blast being outsiders together.

Brilliant Decision

Changing my schedule in my sophomore year was a brilliant decision I’ve never regretted.

Besides, I was a dunce in geometry.


July 21, 1967


July 21, 1967

Wutzit Club

ME IN 1967
ME IN 1967













What’s amazing to me after all these years is that I’m still in touch with three out of the four people mentioned in this diary entry (all Facebook friends now and tagged as such). We all live in different cities and we’ve lived vastly different lives but thanks to the internet (and, I guess, FB) it’s relatively easy to stay in touch. It’s been gratifying to get back in touch with – and in many cases, closer to – a great many people from Wilcox and Santa Clara that otherwise I would have lost touch with forever.


Not a lot of my relationships that began at the Wutzit worked out, at least not for very long. Lewis and I went steady for six weeks in the fall of ’67 before he broke up with me and we went our separate ways.


Years passed without further communication until the miracle of the internet led to “Hello! I don’t know if you remember me, but…” and the start of a beautiful friendship.

Beautiful Friendship

I also need to give kudos and thanks to him for the invaluable help he’s given me with my domain site and the graphics on a lot of these diary blogs.

I've heard it said...

The above Stephen Schwartz lyric from the musical Wicked applies to Mary, Sandy, Lewis and so many more of you I haven’t mentioned by name or written about – yet.  I’m especially grateful to those of you who’ve left comments to let me know this whole diary-blog endeavor means something to you. There’s something special about hearing from people I knew so many years ago.



May 10, 1969

May 10 1969















I’m not sure if I’m revealing myself (and – guilting my best friend Sandy Hegwood Walker by association) as a typical high-spirited high-school girl or a pathological liar. In our defense, we didn’t distort the truth for an unfair advantage – we just couldn’t resist any opportunity to try on a new identity. An only child, Sandy’s fantasy life and active imagination meshed perfectly with mine. We were naturals when it came to playing off each other and improvising.  We had our own secret language for awhile, but that was kids stuff. When we matured, so to speak, pretending to be aspiring rock stars was one of our favorite gambits. When we really got it going, we could go into elaborate detail about our set list and who sang lead on what song. I’m surprised we never got around to printing up band cards. (But what if somebody wanted to book us?)

This fantasy sounded so cool Sandy and I struggled through a few guitar lessons  before we realized our talents were better suited to shopping for dramatic stage costumes, not learning to play an instrument. Years of piano lessons, during which I fell progressively further behind my younger sisters, had alerted me keyboards might not be my forte. My next hint I might be musically challenged came when our church choir director eliminated my half of an upcoming duet with the lame excuse a Natalie Nilsen solo served the music better. I told myself she just didn’t want to show preferential treatment to the pastor’s daughter but I was devastated. While I didn’t want to “toot my own horn,” I didn’t want to hide my light under a bushel either.

I took my case to my father. “I have a beautiful voice, don’t I?” I asked.

He paused and said, “Kathleen, we all have different gifts.”

Even I couldn’t spin this response. So what if I’d never be a real life rock’n’roll icon? Thanks to Sandy’s and my living theater, I knew how it felt to strut the stage and blast away on my Stratocaster. Just to prove that sometimes fantasies do come true, Sandy’s parents bought her a drum kit which she housed in a black light room. It didn’t get much better than that.

If you’re worried about all the gullible people we deceived, rest easy – I don’t think we fooled anyone.


If I knew then….May 5, 1970




On May 5, 1970, Ronald Reagan was governor of California. If you’d told me that in eleven years, he’d be President of the United States I never would’ve believed it.

I would have been equally surprised that the answer to my question – what is going to happen in this country? – turned out to be, not much. Sure, there were a few more rounds of revolutionary noise in the next couple years but nothing really changed. The revolution was a dud. If anything, the social/political climate took a hard right by the end of the decade when Reagan was elected president.

Whether I’m cynical or simply apathetic, I don’t invest emotionally in politics. Maybe my college experience has something to do with that. The students in Meyerhoff Park cared passionately – it just didn’t matter. Ultimately, in the words of the Eagles song Sad Café….

Things chnage slowly

Besides, I don’t like to argue. If I cared more, I’d be forced to fight with somebody about something. I do my duty and vote but I save my passionate love and hate for things that matter more to me – like books and movies. And, for the record, I still loathe Godard.


Feeling Fat? Don a Poncho!

Kathy in Poncho

Sadly, I felt fat A LOT because this brown and white poncho is featured in numerous photos from the mid-sixties (b/w photos) until the mid-seventies (the sole color photograph, with college boyfriend Tom, in suede jacket.) Truth is, I might still have that old wool poncho, although I haven’t worn it in a decade (which is not to say that I haven’t felt fat. Just not fat enough to don the poncho.) As you can see, it conveniently conceals the entire mid-section and – at the time – I truly believed it epitomized hip.  Is the poncho due for a fashion comeback?


It’s Not Too Late to be a Model in my Sixties Fashion Gallery!



As part of a reference/research project for my novel, I’m assembling a gallery of sixties fashions. Rather than reproduce the same old iconic sixties fashion shots we’ve all seen a million times, I want to feature real life baby boomers in the real sixties ensembles we all actually wore. I’m not too proud to post my own humiliating fashion faux pas, so why not join me? I’ll post your name and any comments you offer with your photo if you like, or you can be anonymous. You can send sixties photos of yourself to me at my domain – kathleenrowell.com (where you can also view the galleries as they grow) or you can email them to kathleenkrowell@aol.com.  MALE AND FEMALE FASHION PHOTOS WANTED!!!


I’ve broken the gallery into three sections – early sixties (roughly up until the Beatles), mid-sixties (Beatlemania until ’68-69), and late sixties, which in my opinion extends until 1973 fashion-wise, so please note where you think your fashion photo should fall (if you don’t, I’ll take my best guess). Right now, almost all the photos in the gallery are of yours truly, so please save me from my narcissism and send some of yourself in your sixties glory. (And truthfully, is there a baby boomer alive who doesn’t wish that you looked as good now as you did then? Show off your former self! Release your inner model!) Thanks in advance to any and all responders.

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