Nov 01 2012

Hearing the word “journalism” sends me back to my childhood in the 1950s.

My father was a reporter for The Washington Star newspaper in Washington, D.C. He worked long hours and was always on deadline, readying his copy to go to the Editor for publication in the evening edition of the paper, The Evening Star.

As Daddy’s little girl, I idolized him and his writing ability, all the while accepting I could never be a reporter. I was a female child and so the opportunities, he explained, were limited. He didn’t like it, but that was the way it was. And indeed, that was the way it was. My mother, trying to console me as mothers do, broadened my prospects by saying I could be a nurse or teacher until I married, or if I wanted to go into business, a secretary.

I remember buying a Giant Lois Lane
comic book just like this for 25cents.
As a result of this lack of future choice, I satisfied my journalistic bent by reading Superman Comics and avidly following my hero, Lois Lane. I thrilled as she took notes in her journal pad, just like my Dad did. I loved it when she was on deadline just like he was, typing away at a typewriter and running her copy into Perry White, her Editor, before going on to the next story.

I even thought of myself as Lois Lane while teaching myself to type on Daddy’s Royal typewriter. I felt so smart with the inked ribbon winding from one spool to the other as I clicked the return carriage to roll up the typing paper to my next line.

When the above comic came out at the drugstore, most of my playmates thought of Lois as the bride of Superman, but my eyes saw her sitting behind her desk at the typewriter. Regardless of my attempted foreshadowing as a reporter over the long haul, by the time I was in college, I had decided I would be a teacher.

It seemed a better fit, because, well, journalism was just too difficult for a woman to fight her way up “through the ranks.” For years I went round and round, never excited about one particular career and always wanting to write, working it into whatever profession I was in. Writing technical manuals. Writing directions for quilting patterns. Writing grants. Writing promos. Always writing, but never reporting, because, well, you know, I was a woman.

Can you believe this? Can you believe blindly following what you are told and for YEARS? That’s pretty much the way many women were back in the 1950s, 60s and less intensely in the 70s. I was taught to accept my role. It wasn’t that I had to marry and be a mother, it was just that I couldn’t be anything else. I was not compliant as much as I was not awake to the idea that my life could be, perhaps should be, different.

Luckily, I was at the crest of the wave of social change. My high school abolished the dress code in 1969, my Senior Year. The so-called “Summer of Love” and Woodstock followed soon after. By the time I graduated from college, I had awakened to other dreams and possibilities, but it wasn’t until, being much older, I thought of having a blog and getting down to the business of written self-actualization.

So now, maybe you’ll understand why I am fascinated with blogging and with BlogHer.com.  With the Internet climate promoting blogging, anyone with the drive and desire can write, edit and publish. With all of the accessible self-publishing opportunities, anyone can express themselves while promoting their interests to the world.

It is a phenomenal concept some may take for granted, but not this little girl who finally decided to become her own version of Lois Lane, and also, BTW, Perry White.



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Oct 31 2010

Halloween – October 31 –  All Hallow’s Eve

What fun we used to have on Halloween in the 1950s! Running around the neighborhood, knocking on doors until they opened and yelling, “Trick or Treat!” We loved the people who gave us full size Hershey bars, although you didn’t have to say, “full size” then because there was only one size. On the other hand, we couldn’t understand the people who gave us apples and insisted they were good for our health. We thought that was just peculiar.

This year, it seems like it’s going to be pretty cold for the kids. Cold like it was the year I decided to be a mermaid. And what a disappointment that was. It was bad enough that mother and daddy refused to pull me around in a wagon so that the illusion of a tail fin could be maintained, but the costume that mother had come up with to keep me happy and make a pretense of me being a mermaid was a long green skirt with the outline of a tail fin drawn on it. Needless to say, I was totally disgusted and humiliated that this ridiculous excuse for a tail fin was being placed on my body. Adding insult to injury, I was supposed to be gracious about it and wear it with a smile. Very hard to do when one is so emotionally encumbered.

This was before Walt Disney’s Little Mermaid, Ariel, but somehow I had channeled the image of a glorious fish tail with real scales and the ability to move my legs as one to make it fan and flip, which would have been relatively easy if I had been in my wagon like I wanted and was being pulled along like I was supposed to be. But no, there I was, a bipedal self embarrassment in a long green skirt with a fish tail drawn on it, shuffling along with a pillowcase of candy, glad that it was dark so nobody could see it, but then alternately mad that it was dark so nobody could see it to realize what I was being put through. The sympathy vote might have been worth a couple extra Hershey’s Kisses, after all.

But actually, the worst thing about that Halloween night, long ago, was that it was cold. So cold, I had to wear a coat over my mermaid costume and the top half of me was the only redeeming feature of the ensemble. I forgot to mention that in my haste to tell you how stupid the bottom half appeared. Mother had done pretty well with the top half and wasn’t it a shame that nobody would see it because it was too cold and I had to wear a coat?

Well, you might be saying, trying to make the glass half full and pull victory out of the jaws of defeat, at least least I didn’t have to wear a hat.

Oh NO! You would be wrong! Of course I had to wear a hat! This whole thing is happening in the 1950s when sensible children with sensible parents were always dressed appropriately to the weather. That night it was cold, and if a coat was needed, then surely a hat was needed, therefore, a red knit peaked hat with a pompom hanging on a chain stitch piece of yarn from the peak that bobbed to and fro was required before I could even think of leaving the house. It was a nightmare come true. There was no hope except the glimmer of truth that no matter how I was dressed, I would come come with a pile of candy. That was the only thing that kept me going.

And so, this Halloween, if any of your children are dressed like a decent mermaid with a shiny, slithery, sparkly, scaled mermaid tail and you are pulling them around on a wagon to create the illusion that they are half fish like they want to be, may I reach out and shake your hand to tell you what a great parent you are? And if you live in Florida so that they don’t have to wear coats on Halloween, may I congratulate you on your unselfish foresight? You have transcended all obstacles while holding down a day job to make your child’s dreams come true.

And may I say, “Bravo! You won’t regret it.” And you won’t have to read their blog fifty years from now to see the trauma you caused them and beg them for forgiveness.

What a great Halloween you will have, with many more to come.

 

If you enjoy Halloween as much as I do, consider
visiting this site for everything Halloween and MORE!

If you would like to buy a haunted house, click here.

If you want to order the candy you ate as a kid, try this site.

Go here, if you would like to make yourself into a zombie!



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Sep 12 2010

Women were expected to “dress for success” even while they waxed floors.

From the Literary Digest, October 16, 1926

You don’t hear, at least I haven’t heard, many people using the terms dysfunctional families anymore. It just seems the tide has turned away from the self-analysis, introspection and self-help that were popular in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now, it appears people look to diagnoses from doctors and filling perscriptions for feelings of inadequacy or depression. I see this as sad, because I know how much self-help from facilitators like Louise Hay and John Bradshaw helped me as they did many people across the country during the self-help years of the 1980s.

When I try to figure out what is the difference between the 1980s and now, I factor in the growing influence of computers in our lives. It looks to me that we often tend to isolate our interactions to those with whom we can electronically communicate. A quick soundbite or Tweet is immediate, but it also may limit our need to reach out for contact with actual human beings. It satisfies keeping in touch in a cursory manner, but as it puts the get in touch “check in the block,” it does not fulfill the need for face to face interaction. We give and receive so much from each other when we visit in person. As the tide seems to have turned from self-help to seeking professional medical help, it looks like we are not reaching out for our associate’s insights like we used to.

It seems many people are on computers holding down jobs in a workplace or otherwise producing income streams for the better part of the day. That’s a great number of hours spent interacting with an unfeeling cyberworld rather than with families, friends and neighbors. And, when one figures in the additional leisure hours spent isolated in front of the television, even when in the company of others, it is easy to see we are not bonding with people whose companionship we would otherwise share.

Having thought about it for a while, I’ve decided we are increasingly tending to disconnect from our fellow humans and are shutting ourselves down to those around us. We either wear false smiles or are not available to our friends and families while we isolate to suffer by ourselves. We often face the glow of the computer screen, doing work, we say, while really using the computer to mask our sadness.

In some ways, I find our lack of human interaction today as bad as when I was growing up in the 1950s.  Then, the code of behavior was clearly spelled out for each individual and no one dared admitting they didn’t, or would rather not, fit in the system. At least it seemed that way in my neighborhood.

We really did have the June and Ward Clevers, neighbors like the parents in the Leave it to Beaver television show, living up and down the block. I can remember that their houses always appeared in order and delightfully so when I would visit. Were the women back then into keeping house, working non-stop on being immaculate in their housekeeping and appearance to hide their sadness? I don’t remember people discussing feelings, reading self-help books or freely letting feelings show.

Maybe, that’s somewhat like today. The rigid codes of behavior have greatly lessened, but are we isolating on the computer to deny healthy personal interactions? Does that glowing screen and our back to the room replace June Cleaver’s pearl earrings and necklace?

If you are too young to remember the Leave It to Beaver show on TV, click play:

Notice how Ward Cleaver reacts when June tells him her sister had a baby girl rather than a baby boy. Can you imagine the message to all of the little girls watching?



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