Culling through pictures, playbills, luggage tags and every sort of memento in the Chumbley archive, I discovered some odd newspaper clippings. This small sheaf of articles stood out because they had no bearing on show business, airplanes, or any other achievement of my principle characters in “River of January”. The collection, clipped together was titled, “Love and Marriage.” “Love and Marriage?” Helen was a career girl, a professional! Yet she had carefully cut them out of the paper, and valued the advice enough to keep them for over seventy odd years.
Helen was, in reality, a romantic girl, a girl who dreamed of an ideal ‘happily ever after.’
Yes, I am a closet romantic. Despite all the years spent teaching wars, treaties,and politics, I still hold on to my teenage heart.
The boy pictured in this essay is Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. The band wasn’t my favorite by any means, but he was so cute. His smile on a show, “Where the Action Is,” cut me to the core. I was infatuated, as were most seventh grade girls in America.
My hair hung straight, fortunate at a time of when straight hair was the thing, wore A-line dresses called Tent dresses, and cute little round toed pumps with crazy designed stockings. Preferred lipstick came from Yardley, an English brand, or for us poor girls, Avon. The color was frosted white, or subtly pink.
And I liked boys. Boys were the ideal “them,” the unfathomable other, the male prepubescence sirens that dominated my thoughts, and permeated all conversations with my girlfriends.
Just the opening bar to the Beatles, “Night Before,” sent me into a tail spin. Paul wanted me to love him. Sigh. And the Young Rascals asked, “How Can I be Sure?” And that tore me up. My heart and mind was an explosive combination of fantasy, adrenaline, hormones, and electric guitar riffs.
It’s still a jumble in my mind, those long ago days. But I think that is somehow the right way to remember. There was a war, (in Vietnam), riots, (in Watts), and students rising up across college campuses with an unrest detectable in my seventh grade classroom.
Most of the upheaval I processed in terms of cute boys. There, I admit it. But that was certainly a long time ago, and today those glamorized notions have been replaced with a deeper understanding of the historic record, and a trail of broken relationships. And maturity.
It hasn’t been seventy years of saving the “Love and Marriage” columns, but young girls and romantic idealism remains a constant. Younger girls are more transparent, expressing their romantic enthusiasm, but we older girls haven’t forgotten.
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