Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Work In Progress

I’m certain if any of you have been following this ‘high school’ portion of my journey, you will be glad to know I am finished with this topic except for a few additional comments.

One teacher I have not yet mentioned was our music teacher. He was the grandson of classical composer Anton Dvorak and it was his first year in Canada. We loved him and he adopted our entire class as his ‘favorite’ memory of his first year spent here teaching.

As in most music classes we were required to sing the musical scale with ‘ah’s’…, re, me etcetera. After completing the scales we were to select a musical instrument. As class ended he asked me to wait…he said “I will make an agreement with you”! Oh, oh was I worried, I didn't think I had done anything wrong this day!  The gist of his comment was if I promised never to sing in his class, and to select only cymbals as an instrument he would give me a passing grade! I definitely could not as they say ‘sing for sour apples’ and was only to crash the cymbals when he pointed directly at me!

Just about this time ‘rock and roll’ was the music of choice among teenagers; our music instruction included classical music; recognition of composers by listening to their works and biographies of the composers. Moans and groans throughout the class! Included as well was the development of popular music themes throughout history. This gentleman instilled in each of us the desire to learn and listen to more than the popular music of the day.

He taught so much just by being the person he was. He told of his origins, his homeland, his world of music, travels, and elation at being in Canada. He helped us to believe that anything in life was possible with belief in oneself and hard work. He taught us to explore the ‘wonders’ of not only education but the world around us as he reveled in each new discovery of our country and our town!

Wherever he is today I have him to thank for opening my eyes to see and want to know farther horizons; to understand more of the world we live in.   It was indeed an honour to meet him!

In summary, my high school days were highlights of my life. Met some excellent educators, made wonderful friends. Gained confidence as I developed some social skills. Although very bored with business subjects I still came away with skills I would call upon as I traveled through life. I realize now that although I felt I had finally reached adulthood and felt complete, I was still a ‘work in progress’

The painting shown with this blog is titled 'Work In Progress'  see my art blog:-
Artistic Pinnacles and Potholes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

High School Days – First Prom

Do you remember your first high school prom? I do! Every girl in the class had been asked to the prom - with one exception, me. Even the class goody two-shoes had a date and she was a short, homely little chub! Finally a Grade 13 boy asked me …. He didn’t have a date either as he had a hare lip and was scoffed at because of his speech impediment. I was in seventh heaven….not only a date, but a senior boy! Of course I said ‘yes’ right away.

My mother said ‘no’! Every day she said ‘no’. I begged, I pleaded, I did extra housework…’no’ was her final answer.   My grandmother intervened ... the answer was still 'no'.  She told me I would just have to tell the young lad I could not go to the prom with him. I wailed … I couldn’t possibly tell hime ‘no’ after I had said ‘yes’.

Meanwhile  my girl friend’s house was a flurry of activity; the table sheeted with fine satin and tuille and pattern as her mother made her dress. Oh what a dress it was! Prettiest pink, all frothy and swirling skirt!. I told this story to my mother. “NO!” was the answer.

We were getting down to the wire and I still hadn’t been able to extract a ‘yes’. One day on my way out the door to school I was told to me my mother to meet her ‘up town’ after school….’up town’ being the shopping street of our town. I expected to carry home groceries. Imagine my surprise and delight when my mother took me into the ‘Vogue’ ladies shop to buy an evening gown for the prom. To this day I don’t know how my mother managed to save the $10.00 necessary to buy the gown. Little did I know the gown I selected was a fall evening gown……lovely red, with red velvet bodice, and red autumn leaves stitched down the tuille skirt. I didn’t know that all the girls at the prom would be decked in pinks, pale blues and yellows for a spring dance. It didn’t occur to me that my dress wasn’t the most beautiful of all….and having no fashion sense whatsoever didn’t know the difference between spring and fall dresses….so I was walking on cloud nine!

My date arrived by car driven by his father. He also drove us home from the dance.

The dance theme was ‘Evening In Paris’ and the auditorium was decorated in shades of blue and silver with silver stars on the ceiling, tables clad in blue cloth, a live band, a silver wrapped bottle of ginger ale on each table (supposedly to resemble champagne) and…..a sample of ‘Evening in Paris’ perfume for each girl in attendance. The first perfume of my life! What an evening, I was absolutely star struck; I know my feet did not touch the ground all evening or for most of the next few days either!

At these dances a school king and queen were selected. All girls marched across the stage and a panel of lads voted on the girls to select the ‘queen’. To this day I don’t understand why my friend was crowned ‘queen’; I was totally convinced I was the most beautiful girl there. I discovered years later that ‘position’ on the social roster meant more in selection that ‘beauty’. I will always remember this first of my ‘star struck’ evenings!  I kept that dress until a few years ago when I finally decided I could part with it.

Hope this helps you remember your first formal ‘prom’ dance.

The picture displayed with this blog is the type of dress we wore to formal dances at that time.

PS…..I have take on a 'paying' job two or three days a week; my art work is not selling and it is time to replenish my reserves. I will not be able to post every day to this site but will try to post at least twice a week.

Visit my other 'art' blog where I discuss pinnacles and potholes encountered being an artist:-
upside-down painting

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

High School - First Date

I learned to do something else in high school of which I have never been proud. I learned to ‘lie’. No fib….outright ‘lie’.

I had never lied in my life and definitely have not repeated the process. But I lied! One of my best new found friends was having a birthday party towards the end of Grade 10 and asked me to attend as a date for one of her cousins. I had never had a date and I knew it was out of the question as far as my mother was concerned after all I was fifteen, I could no more ask her if  I could go on a date than I could ask her if I could fly to the moon; first of all the moon was still ‘green cheese’; an impossible dream.

After much cajoling from my friends I finally agreed; and told my mother I had been invited to a girls birthday party. I did not tell her I would be in the company of a young man. The party was okay….I was so shy; even holding hands was out of the question. And actually dancing with a boy! Treading foreign ground for sure! I managed to get through the evening with a lot of teasing and a brilliant red face. Definitely an uncomfortable evening!

The next day the young man called and invited me to go on a family picnic and swim with his family. I told my mother, once again, I had been invited by my girl friend and she consented. I don’t know whether my mother became suspicious or what …. She called my girl friends house a few hours later to see what time we would be home and learned my friend was at home and I was out with her male cousin. She came to the lake to warn me. I knew I was dead if I went home!

The young man and his entire family came home with me under the assumption that if mother met the entire family she would have no qualms. So home I went….to meet my entire family, mother, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles! Ruby had lied! The entire family was involved.

End result – I was grounded for the entire summer. I could go to work each morning with just enough time to make it to work and was expected home within a half hour after work. The price of lying! The young man and I wrote letters back and forth the entire summer; my mother would secretly steam the letters open and read them before she handed them to me. It took three long months before mother finally consented, with the intervention of my stepfather finally convincing her there would be no harm in my going to an early movie with the young man at least once a week! So it was, I was finally allowed to date this young man….to the 7 pm movie, and had to arrive home safe and sound within a half hour after movie ended.

A definite turning point in my life experience; the penalties paid for lying were definitely not worth the pleasure derived from the lie!

The description of the paint used here can be read in my other blog:-
Effervescence of Love

Monday, May 3, 2010


Indeed, High School was an assembly of many young teenagers on the road to discovery. Discovery of their own image and value, of new friendships, of an identity.

We started out pranksters, giggling and rebellious! We seven weren’t the only pranksters, half the class of 42 students were the same. And I was not immune to finding many strange things in my desk and having a ‘whoopee’ cushion slipped on my seat as I hurried in late one morning. That one even brought a smile to our ‘stone faced’ teache’s face. We were so immature; my grandson toyed with such a cushion for a few weeks when he was five and then no longer found it funny; but our generation did not have the diversions of today’s youngsters. After several detentions to many students our vice-principal addressed the class on its immature behaviour andl we got down to brass tacks and work.

And it was work. A student had to pass all subjects; just one failure meant you repeated the entire year. The only work problem I had was the maintenance of workbooks. I had a photographic memory and could read a textbook the night before an examination and ace it the next day. But neat, tidy notebooks, forget it! Solved this problem with the co-operation of my Scottish friend. She could study forever and never pass an examination… she would update my notebooks and I slipped her the answers during examinations; we always positioned ourselves opposite each other in examination rooms…and we both passed!

Leaving pranks behind us we found new ways to expend our energy and expand our horizons. There were intramural sports events, school football games and dancing. Socially we were like fuzzy caterpillars emerging from a cocoon…..all awkward and bumbling. Preparations for the first Grades 9/10 autumn dance was in full swing. And…..I had saved enough to buy a pair of those wedge heel shoes I so admired. A friend and I both purchased a pair. We walked the long distance to the school auditorium for the dance; by the time we arrived we both had blisters on our feet.  The boys looked so grand in their dress trousers and the newest for young men 'pink' shirts and blazers!  Charcoal and pink was the ultimate dress code for young men.....didn't last very long.  The girls looking their prettiest; so well groomed and bright.  Exactly what we were....bright, clean faced youngsters tip toeing on new ground!

Here we were, so excited, the room was dimmed, a school band on stage provided the music! Such a magical night. However….the boys were all lined up on one side of the room, the girls lined on the opposite side. Very few grade 9’rs danced that evening. A fellow may make a tentative approach and with his buddies snickering behind him would turn and retreat. “Girl’s Choice” saw a few more dancers on the floor….but very few! The dance was over before 10 p.m. and my friend and I walked home shoeless, limping all the way with pulsating feet! And with a new found discovery ….. we were not yet socially accepted butterflies.

During Grade 10 I was allowed to attend Friday evening dances at the Dante Club. A dance organized for the teenagers in town. Strictly monitored, no alcoholic beverages allowed (official drinking age at that time was 21) and if found the person was evicted and not allowed access ever again. Dutifully a group of us girls would pay our 25 cents admission week after week; and stand nicely like the wall flowers we were from 7:30 until 10:00 ….when we would leave convincing each other we had a good time…..even though no one had asked us to dance! But the music provided by the student orchestra was good!

By Grade 11 many boys and girls were dating and were seen arm in arm about town. I left school in Grade 11 and that is a story for another day.

Description of the painting used here can be read in my other blog:-
Surmounted - a Painting Pothole

Sunday, May 2, 2010

High School - Pranks

High School was a major turning point in my life. I discovered I really was not the bumbling oaf I believed my self to be; with new found confidence and new found friends I became a confident and self-assured young woman. I do know the friendships I made at that time were instrumental in my major turning points.

On my first day in home room, the girls behind me and across the aisle became instant buddies when I put my head down on my desk and wailed “Oh, God No”! Two French Canadian girls who were bussed into school from farm country. One was nicknamed by the boys as ‘Face’. She was stunningly beautiful, a true movie star quality; reminded us of Cyd Charisse in a movie dancing with Fred Astaire.  And her cousin, a sexy little bombshell! Although I am no expert on other world cultures, I believe the love of life cannot be equaled to that of a French Canadian girl. The vibrant personalities, the spilling of emotions whether anger or laughter, for me is always so contagious.

So here I was with two young ladies full of life, love and laughter. Mix into this a slightly overweight girl from a Scots family who loved to laugh and a feisty little Italian with black curly hair and fiery black eyes. All of us hell bent for leather. What a time we had!

Our first targets were so easily identified….our home room teacher (my church elder) and the class goody-to-shoes! “Oh, miss let me”, “Oh Miss I know the answer to that”, “Miss, baked some cookies last night thought you might like one for your break”. Little-Miss-Know-It-All! Goody-All! Teachers Shadows! Tu Tu Tu Tu Duh!

Miss-Know-It-All became a daily target, our mission in life was to expose her! When one of my country friends brought in a garter snake for Science class we contrived to put it in Miss Knows desk. I of course was nominated for this task. No problem; snake securely tucked in desk we all took our seats. What a commotion that was with Miss Knows screaming and walking out of class pigeon-toed. She was away from school the rest of the morning; we were convinced she had an accident which made us giggle more. I was targeted as culprit and did own up to it. Met the vice-principal on less than friendly terms that day. However, Miss Knows desk became the daily resting spot for whatever critters we could find. Cruel you say! Perhaps!

And our home room teacher had truly alienated me first day so I was up to whatever was concocted. She really was such a sweet lady that even today I am sorry for what I did to her. At that time grown women wore of two versions; just above waist or from collar bone down!  I’ve seen modern versions for young people in the past few years and cannot imagine why anyone would want to wear one although today one does have a choice.  "Back then" wearing of one of these contraptions identified a 'well dressed woman'.

They were totally rigid elastic, designed to be pulled on, up over legs to torso; totally binding derriere, stomach and waist in no-give elastic, with whale bones sewn in to retain shape. Consequently excess 'fat' was pushed below leg of girdle or under armpits.  Well Miss Home Rooms was so rigid you could see whale bone lines through her clothing. Our discussions concluded she wore the full body version and we decided that nothing could penetrate that girdle; looked more like armour plate! Thumb tacks! No! Who would dare! Don’t dare me, because I’ll do it!. So here I was placing thumb tacks on her desk seat.

Well, didn’t they stay embedded in her backside. She didn’t even know they were there! Didn’t know why the class was in such giggles and Miss Knows wouldn’t dare tell her either! Of course with all the giggling going on didn’t she sit on the edge of my desk saying “I don’t know what is going on here but I do know you are at the bottom of this!” She had my number but never found out what the giggles were that day.

No excuse for this behaviour I am certain. Recalling that I was barely 14 at the time maybe immaturity might be cited.  In any event; there were seven of us who laughed and pranked our way through high school. Loved every one of these new found friends and the giggles we had!

Visit my art blog Pinnacles and Potholes:-
Co-Op Gallery

Saturday, May 1, 2010

School Days - Gymnasium Class

Ho Hum – new curriculum. Physical Education got off to an embarrassing start. The sole on my shoe had come unstitched and for whatever reason, I can’t recall, we had to walk across the gymnasium to the teacher….and I’m walking pigeon-toed so my sole doesn’t flap, flap, flap! Red face and all!

I will always remember the girl next to me on the bench.

She was the epitome of style! Had the latest short haircut, WORE MAKEUP….latest clothes and moccasins! I’d have signed over my life to her like Dorian Grey that day just to wear her moccasins across the room.

She was so utterly kind, joked with me and took my mind off the shoes and made me feel an equal. Donna was her name. So if you should ever read this Donna; I still haven’t forgotten you kindness! Crammed my feet into an old pair the balance of the week until we could afford to have oxfords stitched at shoe repairs.

We were required to wear a very funny bloomer type, short gym uniform – somewhat resembling infant ‘rompers’. Belted waist, short sleeves and elasticized at the legs….which we pulled up as far as we could. We resembled a mob of bouncing, large babies romping about the basketball and volleyball court.   Girls were not allowed to wear shorts for gym class, it was most unladylike.

Undressing in the common change room was indeed a challenge. I discovered all the girls except one other and myself did not wear a bra! Oh, for shame…many giggled and pointed and commented "you don't wear a bra" ....."oooooo"! That’s it….I am not returning to this class braless! This necessitated a stop at my grandmother’s on the way home from school….she would stick up for me and she did. The next gym class I had a bra! Now I was really a smart high school girl, ready to conquer the world! Well except for those oxfords! And no lipstick! And no after school socializing!

So brand new me with a bra and all the confidence in the world…I tried out for both the basketball and volleyball teams. And made it! I had never made a team until this point and was always last one chosen for any sports activity. But lets face it the ball was large enough I could see it without my glasses just fine. And running away from bully experience in my past gave me good sprinting speed in basketball! I couldn’t believe I actually made both teams! I’m sure my head size increased to that of a basketball!

The boys from Tech Hall would sneak around to the gymnasium back door and watch us practice … my name quickly became ‘legs’. Up to that point I didn’t know I had legs other than for walking and running. Guess they must have some other attraction!

One of my new class friends and I discovered her house skeleton key fit the hallway door from the gymnasium change room. Being firmly established on both ball teams we were bored with attending dribble classes …and discovered we could hide in the change room after attendance; change, open the hallway door and escape. So for the next two and a half years we spent our gym periods at my friend’s house – playing records and reading fashion magazines. Best gym classes of my life!

And this lead to the exploration of other ways to avoid classes which I deemed boring … such as shorthand, typing, business mathematics! Cooking and Sewing!

And should my sisters read this...don't tell mom!

Much more fun to come!

The picture with this blog is not of anyone I know, from a high school fashion magazine of the time.