When I was a teen I planned to be a reporter/journalist for a daily newspaper. As soon as I graduated from high school, I would face the world, have my own apartment and report, write, and look for situations people wanted to read about.
Excitement built in me when I was accepted to work on the Hamilton High school newspaper. It was probably named The Hornet or something similar that escapes my memory because I never made it to my senior year. A year that I so looked forward to. A year that would be my early training for the career I craved.
My mother did some finagling that summer between my junior and senior years. She was grossly unhappy with my having a steady boyfriend, who took me to proms, football games, swimming, parties, and all the dreamy places a teenage girl could want. He even got me a part-time job waiting the counter in a luncheonette. She decided he was not to be in my life any longer.
Then she met Ken at our neighbor Claire and Bill’s house. He was a friend of Bill’s. Mom determined that we should meet and become a couple. That’s how it happened. It was all arranged. A backyard cookout was planned where he would not bring his present girlfriend. I was so naïve! I knew nothing of all this going on. Just pushed into attending.
Ken also took me swimming, dancing, to impressive restaurants, and cozy jazz clubs where the smoke hung low and chanteuse voices even lower. He was 6’ 2” wide in the shoulders, narrow in the hips, wore custom-made suits, sported anErrol Flynn mustache, and drove a fine-looking Cadillac. Two tone gray. Very classy.
Mom coached me to order V. O. & water so I wouldn’t be carded. I was 16. The legal drinking age at the time was 21. Ken was 26, a handsome man with exquisite manners, consideration, and attendance.
At the end of the whirlwind summer, when it was time for me to return to school, Ken asked me to marry him. My stepfather Joe wisely suggested we wait until I finish high school. I think he knew this would blow over in time. I was just too young for a lifetime commitment. I was happy waiting although I considered that Ken would not be taking me to high school balls or football games. Besides being on the school paper, I was vice-president of the class. I was involved. It was expected of me to support my school events. I couldn’t see Ken’s going along with this.
It took me years to figure out that Mom was terrified I would become pregnant and bring shame to the family. She wisely knew, at Ken’s age, he would probably not wait for conjugal rights. He certainly was not gentleman enough to wait for me. She didn’t know I had the determination and intelligence to not let that happen to me. She just didn’t know me at all.
So, I said ‘yes.’ My words, not quite my dream. Surely this was only a detour. I didn’t know that then, but I knew, walking down the aisle in a white velvet gown in November, with all eyes on me, tears slowly overflowing my eyes under my tulle veil, that this was not the right place for me to be. But it was too late to turn back.