Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Old enough to have a baby. . . cat.
My eighth grade graduation present.

By the time high school started, my cat was half-grown.
His name was Willis, named for the R2D2 precursor in Heinlein's "Red Planet Mars."
Unaltered, he was indeed a warrior.

Just in  time for the "lady" years,
The Dixons moved in across the street. 
All girls!  A bonanza!

Judy and I weren't quite the same age and very different styles.  
She was Catholic and went to St. Andrews, both the church and the school.
Her older sister, the tomboy, became a nun.  At first Judy was still a girl and I was a novice grownup.

Judy's folks sent her to modeling school.
She taught me about Mum deodorant which came in little pots.
Now she was far more sophisticated than I was.

We walked in a group to school -- 2 miles each way.
Pearl, Joan, me and Joyce.

Three of us had the same birthday, though Pearl had been born in China and was a little older.

On our "sixteenth" birthday my parents arranged for us each to have a little gift and then lunch at Pulaski's Hillvilla, 
a very posh restaurant in the West Hills that looked out over Portland.

At that age the idea is to be the same but different so we made ourselves dresses from the same pattern and same material, though the colors and details were different.

Paying for this suit on layaway at the Walnut Park J.C. Penneys took a whole summer of picking berries and beans, but then I was a real lady with patent leather pumps and gloves.  I even borrowed my mother's hats.

Downtown at Lipmann Wolfe I liked to sneak into the hat department, which was quite big and lavish, and try on the hats, though the clerks tried to intercept me.  Once I tried on a broad-brimmed Lily Daché hat, bright red velvet with big silk scarlet roses.  I've never forgotten how that looked.  Even the clerk agreed it looked fabulous on me.   $350 in 1955.  There is no hat department anymore.  We watch "The Paradise" on PBS and do it all in imagination.  Sophistication means sex.  It did then, too, but we pretended otherwise, the puzzle being how to get sex without being indecent.

This is the photo of us at the State Fair I was looking for.
I was "dissociated" -- not really there.

We were not sophisticated people.  We were first generation emigrants from rural America to the city, second generation immigrants from Scotland and Ireland.  In such situations the memes become confused and some information is simply missing, no matter how much one reads or joins groups.  Television takes up a lot of slack, and the writers of sit coms have taught us by mirroring society.  But it is often a fun house mirror.  Now the puzzle about sex is how not to let it kill you -- either with virus or violence.  In those days there was no birth control, which meant some tragedies.  But VD (now STD's) could be cured with penicillin.   Those GI veterans had sat through plenty of GI movies about it.

I should make a little footnote here about what happened to us.  The cat lived forever.  The Dixons had their adventures, but Judy become Julia, widowed once, remarried in a Catholic ceremony to a widowed man, creating a family with mostly boys.  Joan disappeared.  The last rumor I had was that she had married, never had children, ran a dog kennel, and was widowed.  Joyce, the most beautiful and ladylike of the walkers, married, divorced, had two sons the last I heard -- they would have been teenagers by then.  

Pearl Lee married Ron Lee, which worried their families because it's bad luck to have the same name on both sides.  They are totally unchanged except for aging which is barely detectable.  Their children are achievers.   They live in the same house, retired from the same jobs, do mission work, travel to the basic tourist sites.  A few years ago they came to visit me here.  We baffle each other but we don't give up.  We have walked many a mile together.

Just alike and totally different.

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