Perspectives, Class of 1942, A Vintage Vignette

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Perspectives, Class of 1942
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 31, 2010

The 1942 Madison High School Senior Class had a reunion in 1992. Because students from Monrovia, Harvest, and Toney were enrolled at Madison High in 1938, the Class of '42 became the largest graduating class prior to 1951-2 when students were transferred to Butler High for several years. The 1942 class roster consisted of Dora Cain Apperson, Margaret Barnett, Lavinia Baxter, Milton Carter, Aleene Camper, William Clutts, Edward E. Cobb, Nancy Coleman, Lucille Coleman, Charles C. Erwin, Mary Anna Garnett, Dorothy Gooch, William Gover, Harvey Hardiman, Gertrude Hovis, Hugh L. Hovis, Evelyn Jenkins, Percy B. Keel, Frances Locke, Nolan Locke, Sara McCrary, Wilma McFarlen, Ruth Mann, Hazel Mitchell, Dewey Phillips, Louise Rhoden, Raymond Riddle, J. P. Roberts, Joe Rodman, Eugeal Steelman, Clifton Smartt, Katie Mae Stewart, Lorinda Thornton, Ruth Wade Toney, Marcus Tuck, Telete Tuck, Evelyn Wall, Hilda Whitt, Allyne Whitworth, Tillman Williams, and Lillian Yarbrough – 41 in all. Ten were listed as deceased in the reunion program, but it has been my privilege to meet seven of the class members since I moved here in 1986.

Lucille Coleman, who married Elmer Jean, wrote an article of perspectives in the reunion program about “How It Used To Be”. Much of that article is given here as follows. “We were before computers, before the pill and the population explosion. We were before radar, fluorescent lights, credit cards, and ballpoint pens. In our time, closets were for clothes, not coming out of, and a book about two women living together in Europe could be called 'Our Hearts Were Young and Gay'. We were before Grandma Moses, Frank Sinatra, and cup-sizing for bras. Women wore Peter Pan collars and thought a deep cleavage was something the butchers did. We were before Batman, 'Grapes of Wrath', 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer', and Snoopy. Before DDT and vitamin pills, the white wine craze, disposable diapers, and jeeps. Before Scotch tape, the automatic shift (in automobiles), pizza, Cheerios, frozen orange juice, instant coffee, and McDonalds.”

“We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent. We were before FM radio, tape recorders, electric typewriters, word processors, disco dancing. We were before air travel went commercial; trans-Atlantic flights belonged to Lindberg and Amelia Earhart. We were before pantyhose and drip-dry clothes, before ice-makers and dishwashers, clothes dryers, freezers and electric blankets, before students held cocktail parties on campus, before the opposite sex was allowed above the first floor, long before Hawaii and Alaska became states, before men wore long hair and earrings and women wore tuxedos. Our graduation was before Leonard Bernstein, yogurt, Ann Landers, plastics, hair dryers, the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage. We even got married and then lived together.”

“In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, grass was mowed, Coke was something you drank, and pot was something you cooked in. We were before daycare centers, house husbands, computer dating, dual careers. When we had a baby, it was a 7- to 10-day event, not something you did on the way to the office. We were before coin vending machines, jet planes, helicopters, interstate highways. 'Made in Japan' meant junk, and the term 'making out' referred to how you did on your exams. In our time, there were five and ten cent stores where you could buy things for a nickel and a dime. For just one nickel you could ride the streetcar, make a phone call, buy a Coke, or buy enough stamps to mail one letter and two post cards. You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $650, but who could afford that? A pity too, because gas was eleven cents a gallon.”

“If anyone in those days had asked us to explain CIA, Ms, NATO, UFO, NFL, JFK, BMW, or ERA, we would probably have said 'Alphabet Soup'. Unlike the remote control dancers of today, we knew how it felt to have your partner hold you close and double dip. We were before sex changes. We just made do with what we were. And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby.” That's just the way it was.

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