Jr. High

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.

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

 

October 18, 1968

october-18-1968

 

While no one in high school wanted to look like a dummy, looking like a brain was worse – at least for girls. Standards were different for boys. For many girls – myself included – high intelligence made a boy even more appealing.

Girls learned early to avoid appearing smarter than a boy you liked. Lucky for me, I was blessed with a knack for looking dumber than I am. Mere days after we met, my husband-to-be confronted me with the fact his peers – all the other USC first year law students in our student housing – thought I was stupid.

LOOKING STUPID In 1968! WHAT CAN I SAY? IT'S A GIFT!
LOOKING STUPID In 1968! WHAT CAN I SAY? IT’S A GIFT!

Highly insulted (but not surprised), I informed him I’d been accepted by UCLA’s School of Law twice.  I declined to attend upon reading the course catalog both times. “Constitutional Law” stopped me dead in my tracks.

loftier-goals_edited-1


Where were the fun, theatrical classes like “Perry Mason Cross Examination” or “Burke’s Law”?

PERRY MASON
PERRY MASON
BURKE'S LAW
BURKE’S LAW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feminism wasn’t on anyone’s radar when I attended Wilcox. Advice columns in magazines aimed at girls advised them to build up a boy’s ego, direct conversation to him and his interests, avoid showing him up, compliment him for every little thing you can. “You’re such a good driver!”

 

LOOKING STUPID IN 1973 - WHICH ONE WAS THE REAL ME? - WAS I REALLY ME IN 1973?
LOOKING STUPID IN 1973 – WHICH ONE WAS THE REAL ME? – WAS I REALLY ME IN 1973?

Things have changed since then, I hope. There are signs intelligence is actually prized in high school today.

BORROWED FROM http://www.thewildhideaway.com/blog/its-a-very-cool-thing-to-be-a-smart-girl/
BORROWED FROM http://www.thewildhideaway.com/blog/its-a-very-cool-thing-to-be-a-smart-girl/

Feminism helped as did the population boom. Intense competition produced parents who spare no expense to get their spawn a spot in a top college. In 1969, we braved an SAT exam room with nothing more than our #2 pencils. Today, it would practically be child abuse not to support your baby with tutors, refresher courses, webinars and college consultants. This suggests that perhaps it’s safe – even desirable – for boys and girls alike to strut their smarts in high school. I’m curious.

October 8, 1964

 

October 8, 1964

Even now, decades later, it’s easy to visualize this. In eighth grade, I played second oboe in band – and yes, there were two of us. Mike Moxley played first. There I sat at 7 AM, bored out of my mind, probably daydreaming about the Youth Center Dance and idly twisting my music stand without realizing what I was doing.

It was neither my first nor my last mortification in band. I had no innate talent and no hope of developing any since I hated to practice. I’m not sure why I didn’t quit in 7th grade; perhaps Mr. Royer persuaded me to stick it out because Mike Moxley and I were the only two oboe players at Jefferson. I knew my tenure at second chair would terminate should another oboe player appear. This was hardly an imminent threat. Oboe wasn’t my first choice either but I was even more hopeless at flute.   

band-uniforms

 

The only song I recall from our limited repertoire was my favorite, The Green Leaves of Summer. I can still picture the sheet music and hear the melancholy chords.

Green Leaves Of Summer2

Green Leaves of Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was good to be young then – to be close to the earth”

It wasn't so good if you were wearing Peter Pan collars and ankle socks. No wonder I'm not thrilled to preserve this look for posterity.
It wasn’t so good to wear Peter Pan collars and ankle socks. No wonder I’m not thrilled to preserve this look for posterity.

At thirteen, mourning my lost youth brought tears to my eyes. Then again, it didn’t take much. I’m surprised I didn’t break down when I toppled the top of  my music stand.

Another “Fashion Don’t” modeled by Kathy.

August 30, 1964

August 30, 1964

THE WHITE ELEPHANTS
THE WHITE ELEPHANTS
Me, Natalie, Janet and Joyce around 1964 (I think) - apparently Janet and I dressed alike a lot, all the way down to our headbands
Me, Natalie, Janet and Joyce around 1964 (I think) – apparently Janet and I dressed alike a lot, all the way down to our headbands

Early in life I understood that good Lutheran Scandinavian girls are not fiercely competitive. This was a problem since for me every sack race or game of jacks held life or death importance. (Well, at least it held my self-esteem.) Losing that sack race to Natalie would’ve been more painful than the knee injury that sidelined me.  I thought the problem was I was too sensitive for this world. My parents thought I was just a bad sport.

Playing a game with Jani and Joyce
Playing a game with Jani and Joyce

 

MONOPOLY

CLUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Wiggly

 

I tried to contain my competitive nature but it was too big. My ruthless desire to win Uncle Wiggily regardless of collateral damage resulted in torrents of tears, accusations of cheating, resentments that seethed all night and diary entries in which I called my sister Janet Witch. (In my diary, I appended Witch to the name of anyone cruel enough to win at Monopoly or Clue.)  

 

I gloat over ruling the first car. Note Janet’s stylized angelic pose, head tilted, hands clasped in her lap. You’d never suspect how vicious she could be.

There’s no such thing as just a game or friendly competition to me. It’s always personal, even when my pro team (the LA Lakers) loses. (Not to whine, but if you follow the NBA, you realize I’ve endured a rough couple of years.)

It's Personal

As miserable as I am when I lose, I’m even more insufferable when I win. I smirk, I rehash the brilliant moves that produced my unequivocal victory. Should you fail  to share my glee, I’ll call you a sore loser. This is not the path to popularity.

Don’t blame my parents. They taught me better manners but my need to win is stronger than my need to have good manners. Knowing this is the way I’m wired, I’ve learned to avoid social games.

Winning vs. Good Manners
Winning vs. Good Manners

Unfortunately, this self-knowledge arrived late in life — maybe ten years ago – so for far too much of my life, a deck of cards or Monopoly board could devolve into  mortal combat, leaving bruised feelings and a few tattered friendships in its wake.

MINE!

Ironically, everyone else in my family – my husband and three adult children – are hard-core gamers who manage to win and lose at their various games without taking it personally or turning to the dark side. They didn’t learn it from me.

 

 


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