Ages and Stages-Chapter 1

I have finally come to that point of  thinking I have something to share again.  And as I often do, I begin with a snippet that resonates with me and my story.  This one is from the singer Glen Campbell. If you are a certain age, or older, I am sure you will remember it.  If not check it out on YOUTUBE:

The Everyday Housewife

She looks in the mirror and stares at the wrinkles that weren’t there yesterday

And thinks of the young man that she almost married

What would he think if he saw her this way?

She picks up her apron in little girl-fashion as something comes into her mind

Slowly starts dancing rememb’ring her girlhood

And all of the boys she had waiting in line

Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife

You see ev’rywhere any time of the day

An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me.

How does this song fit in with the post title? Stay tuned, more to come. I truly believe  it is valid to look at life as a whole, from birth to death, as a series of ages and stages.  The text following is a greatly condensed description of the book with this title.  It concerns child development, however; I believe the underlying concept expands beyond that. Life its self is a series of ages and stages.   Please  accept that possibility, as I hope to build on it  from my personal life. Thanks.

“A comprehensive parent’s guide to your child’s psychological development from birth through age 10.  Charles Schaefer and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo tell you what behaviors you can expect as your child grows and how you can help him or her to advance to the next level of development.  The book’s structure (divided into four stages of child development–birth to 18 months, 18 to 36 months, 36 months to age six, and six to ten years)  Covers all five areas of psychological health–emotional, cognitive, friendship/relationships, personal growth, and morality .”

I did earn a liberal arts degree with a major in Psychology.  The national honorary society initiated me into the Syracuse Chapter in 1958.  I enjoyed the courses, particularly one about developmental psychology.  Perhaps I chose this major in Liberal Arts to help me better understand both myself and other people.  I think this choice helped, though by no means provided all the answers.

Psychological health–emotional, cognitive, friendship/relationships, personal growth, and morality .  These certainly are important health issues for children and for adults as well.  Hopefully, our parents, teachers and the society of our childhood gave all of us a foundation to grow increasingly psychologically healthy. This not ending at age 10, but at death itself.  Beyond that……….who knows?

Are the dreams of the everyday housewife limited to her alone?  What about the everyday husband?  On a personal level, what about the little girl next door during my childhood ten years (2-10) ?  We lived in a little village of about 1000 if you counted all those in the country around.  We walked together to our elementary school.  We walked back for lunch and returned to school, walking home after the last bell. We played.

Childhood was much less structured 70+ years ago.   We would play together, sometimes by the river, in the woods, or seeing who could jump the farthest from the top of the chicken coop.  We also would occasionally fight together, later kissing and making up.  All with no professional help, just caring parents.

What would have happened if we had moved through adolescence and stayed together in marriage?  I don’t know of course, though we did reconnect almost 50 years later and would share memories from the time when tying our own shoes was a great accomplishment.  Those memories were, and still are, special to me today.

From childhood to adolescence to teenage.  From kissing and making up, to kissing and making out.  I remember still the first time a girl French Kissed me.  It was at a New Year’s party at a classmate’s home when his parents were away.  We were drinking Cokes, though a bit augmented for flavor. Not bingeing just exploring a bit of what new possibilities there might be.

 As to that kiss, it was the girl, Eve, who initiated it. She was in no hurry to quit.  It was a pleasant surprise for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it at age 15.  Eve was in my grade, an intelligent though rather plain-looking girl.  I believe we liked each other, but not enough to become romantically connected. I wanted to extricate myself from this rural outpost while she planned to stay.

I think, for me, this was the beginning of “coming of age.”  I believe such tales are so categorized.  Pretty tame to many of you out there, and maybe not to some.  The next event in this evolution was leaving home for a summer working at my first “real” job in an Adirondack resort as a dishwasher.

I was 16 and had looked around for a job as I was now of age to work.  I had given up and was about to go camping by the river with a friend when my parents showed up and told me they had a call from Saranac Inn saying that if I wanted a job, show up the next day.

So I did.  A beautiful old wooden resort on Saranac Lake from the 19th century came into view, modernized to an extent.  I had now had responsibility for showing up, performing my tasks, working with others, taking orders and other valuable lessons in life.  Later I moved up the scale a bit to being a cook for the remaining summers in high school and University.  I enjoyed the work and the workers in the hospitality business.

A fringe benefit was meeting young, usually college students, women working as servers. Summer romances-easy to form and easy to forget. Also, when I was under 18, the state drinking age, the worker’s beer hall was not fussy about serving as long as you were an employee.

 Remember Ogden Nash? A book of his “A Golden Trashery of Ogden Nashery”  included this one “Women and liquor is what college boys boast of, but between you and me, beer is what they get the most of.”  I was on my way.

So, what next? The town where I lived did not have much to offer for socializing other than school activities, and movies maybe 3 nights a week.  So occasionally, I would have a little date.  The big event as seniors was a trip to New York City over Easter break.  We all looked forward to this.  We took the train down to NYC and back as air travel was almost unheard of then, and trains were frequent.

Another country school, maybe even a girls school, had a similar program involving  5 girls at most.  They needed a chaperone and their school obtained a graduate of a couple of years back to fill this role.  I still remember her, Lita .  She was a very attractive brunette, also intelligent.  The other guys were either involved with their own relationships or not interested, but I was. This time there was a level playing field and I made a point being next to Lita on outings etc. and she reciprocated the interest.  Very nice.

One of our outings was to see a film at the Radio City Music Hall.  Don’t know if it still exists.  Lita and I sat together so I took a little chance and put my arm around her.  She leaned into me  and we watched together while lighting up and enjoying a smoke or two.  You could do that then, everyone did, so sophisticated!!!  Oh yeah. A kiss or two in the dark added to a very enjoyable evening, I truly think for both of us.

When we got back home, I got some new respect from some of the other guys.  Bob, how did you do that, she was quite a woman!  Lita worked in the prison and got off her shift at about 4:30.  School ended by then so I would often wait outside to meet her and walk her to her car.

The last time I saw her was at about the time we graduated.  An impromptu party was arranged.  A neighbor of mine had a boyfriend with a car. She asked me if I wanted to go with them and I could take Lita.  We all made the rounds of country beer halls enjoying some drinking and dancing.  Lita and I decided to sit one place out and spend time in the back seat of the car, both getting to know each other better, and saying goodbye.  Lita had taken a promotion  in Albany, the state Capital, and I would soon be going to University.

Parting is indeed sweet sorrow.   Romeo and Juliet.  Old Willy Shakespeare sure had a way with words,  and the time had come for us to say our farewell.

 I see that I have taken about twice the number of words as I usually plan on. Marge and I both brought to our relationship what we had individually learned in infancy, childhood, primary and secondary school and finally University.  Nature and nurture, not vs.

 This story really is going somewhere. I leave you looking forward to attending Syracuse University in an urban center. No more small town upstate apple-knocker life for me.

 Trust me. Writing takes longer than I thought, so please stay with me, and share a comment or a question, if you feel so moved.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in Dannemora, NY, Pre Marriage life, Syracuse University and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ages and Stages-Chapter 1

  1. Allan T. says:

    Hi Robert, ah yes, I can remember some of those “like” times. Although I only went to a community college, it was not the same, but interesting. As of 2 years ago Radio City was still thriving.

    • R.J.F. says:

      Good to hear from you again Allan. Thanks for the update on Radio City. I am sure smoking is now Verboten, but I sure it is still a nice place for a date with a special girl. Only now, a 60 year old is a young woman. Oh well, no regrets.

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