|Typing class from my school 1958 - unfortunately I wasn't in this picture but these are my classmates. I don't know where I was that day!|
Picking up where I left off in my previous post of "Turning Points in my life":
A big turning point in my life was when I entered ninth grade and had to choose what educational course to take.
Of course I preferred the Academic course which was the college preparatory course. But when I told my Mother I was going to choose this course she told me "We're not going to pay for you to go to college. You choose a course where you can get a job after high school."
Of course I was greatly disappointed because most of my friends were taking the Academic course. And remember how class conscious were were in high school, those who took the Academic course were the preferred students. The chosen anointed students. I wanted to be in that group. Plus, those who went to college and obtained a college degree were almost always assured of a good paying, interesting job, Mom gave me a reality check, I wasn't going to be a part of THAT group. Thus, what little self confidence took yet another knock.
I briefly considered getting scholarship but I knew I wasn't that smart. I was mostly a B student with a few A's and an occasional C.
Another alternative was working my way through college. How was I going to do that? I had no idea nor enough self confidence.
Another problem I had was that I had no car. Back then in the Fifties, one needed his or her parent's approval to buy a car before their 21st birthday. My parents would never sign for me. They told me that. Think they would buy me a car? Even a used one? Out of the question. So if I did go to West Chester State college, the nearest college to my hometown of Downingtown, how would I get there? The obstacles were too great for me to overcome, at least I thought so at that time with my low self-confidence.
I had to choose another course. The options left to me are the following:
Actually, it was no choice. I had to choose the Commercial Course. The course the "girls" choose. Some guys chose the Commercial course but it was mostly girls. Well, I was one of the "girls", by default.
The other two remaining courses were totally out of the question. The Agricultural course was for farmers. FARMERS. I don't know about the school you went to (in the Fifties), but being called a "farmer" was about the greatest insult a teenager in high school could be called. No female ever took the Agricultural course. The guys who took it looked like farmers and generally smelled like farmers (always slight manure smell they had about them). And of course those guys lived on farms while going to school and were expected to return to their farms after graduating from high school. I was a "townie". That is, I lived in town. I didn't live on a farm. Taking the Agriculture course would be totally useless for me.
The last course was the General course. Everyone knew the General course was for the losers. And as much low self esteem I had, I didn't consider myself a loser. Not that kind of loser, with the greasy ducktail haircut and don't give a f-ck attitude.
Now to make something perfectly clear. I have since become wiser in my old age and I now realize that the Agriculture course and General course were fine courses for those who took them. But back in those days, when peer pressure was very effective, I looked down on the guys who took those courses (and there were always guys who took the Ag course) as beneath me. My bad.
Commercial course it was for me.
One thing, I wasn't going to take shorthand. No was I going to be secretary. Maybe a bookkeeper but not a prissy secretary. Shorthand was out. In hindsight, that was a wise decision. Do you know of anyone who uses shorthand today? Neither do I.
I did take typing though. Reluctantly. And I had problems with typing. My first year I got D's. Barely passed. I just didn't get it. Funny thing happened though, my second year of Typing class, I excelled and was awarded "Best Typist" in class. Of course I'm typing now. Typing is a skill I've used all my adult life and I use all my fingers, not just my two forefingers. My WPM (Words Per Minute) were 77. And that was on a manual Underwood typewriter. That's why I think I would probably excelled at piano playing, one of my great regrets that I never learned to play the piano,
In my Commercial class there were only four of us guys. Me, Glenn M., Jim R., Don S. Three gay guys and one straight (found out later in my life). In fact Jim R, was a boyfriend of my Bill before I met Bill). All the rest in my Commercial class were girls. Me and the girls, that was tough for the low self-esteem, very self conscious teenager that I was at that time. Just another chapter in my life that I felt I wasn't good enough. Of course later in my life I realized that I was good enough, I just chose a different course with some very fine people. And as it turned out I chose the right course.
The next chapter in my Turning Points was one of the most significant in my life. Little did I realize at the time it was but a decision I made as a result of a misunderstanding put me on a totally different life course than I had planned for myself. A course which probably saved my life. That I will write about in my next post.