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liliales birthday countdown: 1977-1978

I have a great deal I want to write about junior high and high school, but I'll be getting back to it at another point. Here's a brief post about 7th grade, for now. 

So, 7th grade. Let's see. I had a huge collection of gauze button-down blouses, and I got saddle shoes, because that was a thing that year, and I'd recently been ill-advised to try the Dorothy Hamill haircut. But when my hair is short, it looks like I electrocuted myself and there weren't the products then that there are now, and I wouldn't have had the desire to spend hours on my hair like the girls in my elementary class who suddenly became cheerleader wannabes...

and this is the thing; a higher proportion of girls from my school became part of the popular in crowd and cheerleaders the next year. So they were even further from me than before, though I now feel a few of them would havechosen to be my friend given a different set of parameters. 

I could talk endlessly about 7th grade, though I don't know why. I lost the spelling bee because I got nervous on stage and spelled a word wrong that I knew perfectly well. That 2nd place trophy was small. I didn't wear a bra, and was made fun of in gym. I think possibly the girls were suddenly embarrassed to see a bare chest when they wouldn't have been previously. So my aunt gave my mom this bra my cousin didn't wear, and it was a white stretchy thing with red piping on it, but the girls thought it didn't look "real" enough. 

liliales birthday countdown: 1976-1977

These couple of years' memories are all kind of smushed together here. But it's all kind of one and the same...

The end of 5th grade was when we discovered cute pop stars (and also those giant Bonne Bell Lipsmackers. I was distraught at the end of the year to realized I'd left my Peach one in my school desk.) Shaun Cassidy was new. Brooke Milvain introduced me to Tiger Beat magazine, but I wasn't into Leif Garrett as she was. My long-haired love came a couple years later. I did have over 200 pinups of Shaun Cassidy on my bedroom walls by the following year, but my real musical crush was on this guy, who sang this song to which I related so very deeply, I played it over and over again. And yes, saw him do this performance on The Midnight Special. #lilialesbirthdaycountdown 

know, right? But that was the year some of the girls started "going steady," and I knew that would never ever happen for me.

 I don't remember turning 11. Odd. I remember that spring was the final one for our Girl Scout troop. That was also the Bicentennial year, so there was a lot going on. (don't worry, they won't all be this long...or maybe they will...)

Why does this remind me of Watergate, several years earlier? That was my first big news event that I followed, starting in 3rd grade. Anyway. 

6th grade. My teacher was a man, Mr. Ganson. Every day, if we were silent, he spent the last half hour reading to us from this great series of books. It was his tradition, and the other 6th grade class was jealous of us. That was the year all the girls had crushes on the various Brians/Bryans and Johns/Jons, and if I even looked at a boy sideways, he was repulsed that I, too, might have a crush on him. But other than thinking some of them were cute, I really didn't. 

That was the year you didn't have to give a Valentine card to everyone in the class. I worked for hours on my box. I covered it with this old vintage-style black and white wallpaper, and then added shiny red stickers. I was so proud of it. And I got one valentine, from the one other kid who gave them to the whole class...

Also, my mom, who was an avid antique collector, gave me a hundred year-old lunch pail to use. I loved it. But even though I had the right Dolly Madison snack cakes and the correct Charm's Ice Cream Pops, everyone made fun of it, so I stopped carrying it. 

[redacted] ...wish I still had it.

By the end of the year, I still hadn't done much 6th grade math, still stuck in that other class, and the others of my original group were doing Pre-Algebra. And that spring, when we went to the Junior High for our special visit, there was a bad storm with tornados, and we were stuck there for several hours. As usual, the worst hit was just a few miles southeast of us; a high school gym was destroyed that day. 

Oh, and the song we were all very into that year? :-)

Two other things about 6th grade, that someone just reminded me of. I spent an entire afternoon talking my parents into letting me see Saturday Night Fever, so inappropriate for an 11 year-old. But I could talk them into stuff. 

And—for some reason, my brother picked on me endlessly, so meanly, and he doesn't even remember doing it now so I can't ask him why. But we were in the car, and he was next to me, my older brother visiting from Canada on the other side. It was all quiet and pleasant, and then I punched him, hard, and made his nose bleed. No one understood why I did it, and I couldn't explain it to them. I wasn't particularly sorry, though.

liliales birthday countdown: 1975-1976

In 5th grade we were tested and put in "levels" with 4th and 6th graders, and I was in the top level in all subjects but math. Now, I'd always been a top math student, but I was put in a middling level while all the other smart kids were sent up. My mom was told, "oh, it's fine, they get to work at their own pace, so she'll be with the others soon." Like, instead of letting me retake the test? I dunno. But the teacher I was assigned didn't believe in letting anyone move up a level unless the whole class did, contrary to how it was set up. So by the end of 6th grade, I was two years behind the other smart kids in math, who'd all gotten to progress at their own pace. It basically ended my "math career," because I learned almost no math for the rest of elementary school, but that's for another year's discussion.

I grew eleven inches in 1975, and that was awkward. It was the beginning of my real awkward years, actually. I was never very good in art (oh, your brother was such an artist,) but I have a way with a portrait, and I drew a boy named Doug, in chalk. It was good enough to be put on a wall, but I didn't like him, and I snuck in and drew little stick people sliding down his nose into a swimming pool, and was sent to the principal's office for it. 

Two important TV memories; the start of the awesome Barney Miller, which Dad and I always watched together, and Monty Python's Flying Circus, which our whole family loved. We were all...a little different for our space and time. Dad and I took a long walk one day down to the cow plex, where they were giving away puppies. I talked him into bringing one home for my brother, hoping that would make him like me better. We named the dog Monty Python. But Monty and I bonded fiercely and instantly...

And then there was the music. Oh, so much music that year. My brother (Bob, 6.5 years older) and I joined the Columbia Record Club, and each got a Beach Boys album and a Wings album, but then he got probably other cool stuff while I got Captain & Tennille records. The first LP I bought was actually Wild Cherry, paid $4 for it, and never really liked any of the songs except the hit, as that was a departure from their preferred style.

liliales birthday countdown: 1974-1975

Sometime when I was 8, my mom got mononucleosis. It was a poor neighborhood joke that my friend's dad got it as well, a little before she did. (Oh, trust me, no.) They were both sick for close to a year. It's that way when you're older; she was 37 and he was close to 40. So she was bedridden a lot, on into 4th grade, and my dad did a lot of sweet things that I remember fondly, but I know there was tension at the time. He had a woman he knew cut bangs in my hair. That made Mom mad. 

But he also made my lunches and drew on the bags, and he put cinnamon in our chocolate pudding, which I loved, but my brother didn't, so he stopped. 

In my fourth grade photo, I'm wearing a dress Mom made for me two years earlier. It was a "granny dress," so it was kind of wide, and I just grew taller but not wider so it was just shorter on me. But I can't find the photo, which I'd really like to share. I do still have the dress! I'll take a picture of it later.

That was the year we studied Missouri. I borrowed a white suit from a boy called Jim Ed, and dressed up like Mark Twain to do a recitation. Later in the year, Jim Ed threw a desk at the teacher, and so he went away. 

And that was the first year they were experimenting with the "gifted" kids. There were six of us they put through various tests and antics over the next three years, because we all scored near or on "college level" on the standardized tests. Which is weird, isn't it? Doesn't sound on the level, to me.

Here are the number one songs for 1974, when I was really getting into the radio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hot_100_number-one_singles_of_1974_(U.S.) And here's a favorite song from later in 4th grade, shortly before my 10th birthday.


liliales birthday countdown, additional 2nd & 3rd grade memories

One of my "favorite" memories of 3rd grade was Roy Farren and Stevie Mansell playing "motorcycle" at recess. They used their school boxes, with the lids open, as little windshields, and would shuffle around for ages with them. Sometimes they'd pretend it was raining and do wiper hands and sounds. 

Stevie went away to a special school after that. Everyone thought Roy was super weird for always playing with him, but looking back, I think he was just super nice. 

:::...where was I? Second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Copeland, was pretty great. She and the other 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Sewell, used to talk often about how much I looked like "JackyO" and I really didn't know who that was at the time. It wasn't like I could Google it...when my mom showed her to me I didn't really "get" it. 

[I still don't, and I'll confess that I think I was better looking as a young woman, because she had not quite enough face for all her features. Anyway. If they meant because she always looked like a million bucks (silly joke you're too young to get) then I'd happily accept the compliment in retrospect.] 

2nd grade was the year everyone started being labeled. That boy Steve was "the artist." (How tiresome for him.) And so that's when things began growing worse for me. All the labels they put on me kept falling off...I was sort ofphysically awkward, very skinny, very quiet except when I was supposed to be. Of course I aced all the schoolwork, but that required no effort at all, except handwriting. Every left-handed person I've known was either rather deft from the start, or not at all. Most of us become so out of need. But it took many years, in my case. #lilialesbirthdaycountdown

liliales birthday countdown: 1973-1974

Moving along, in 3rd grade, I learned a lot—probably the most of any year—but didn't really like my teacher, Mrs. Headley. She wasn't a warm person. Our substitute, whom we had often, Mrs. Richardson, was one of the coolest people ever. But also that was the year the other girls started all hanging around together, especially the ones from the area called Lake Winnebago, and I felt left out. They knew songs from the radio I didn't know, and seemed to just have all their own jokes. 

But adults, being addled, began trying to figure me out wrongly. For awhile, I had weekly sessions with the counselor, Mr. Polomski. I remember nothing from them except he didn't know what was "wrong" with me and told me I should spend more time with the other girls. 

The new girl, Michelle, was as smart as me, and we sort of competed learning the multiplication tables. I remember being annoyed that she took the 30 second 9s test the day before me, because I was absent or something. Michelle was a truly nice girl, and very popular. We often almost connected, but never quite, and I know now it's because I didn't know how to...so then there was them and there was me, for a long time ahead. Oh...the special 3rd grade Girl Scout troop. We were the first ones, instead of being Brownies. I enjoyed it, for the next three years, but felt like an utter misfit much of the time

This is my favorite school photo, though I didn't love it at the time. I loved the dress, though. And in the other photo, it was my "special day" with Dad.

liliales birthday countdown: 1972-1973

For my 7th birthday, I got a green bicycle, a softball bat and glove, and from my grandma, a green record player with a big box of records. They were nursery rhymes, folk songs, and the like, and I had two favorites; "Buffalo Gals," and "Reuben Reuben." Here's a fun performance of that song, featuring the late great Patsy Cline

The first pop song I just had to have was considered a "golden oldie" then. It was "Chantilly Lace," by The Big Bopper. I called the new oldies station, KUDL-FM, to request it, with the help of my dad. And my parents searched all over to find the 45 for me. This video is special, because Dick Clark introduces the song... 

I had a birthday party with just a few girls invited, and we ate baked burritos, which my mom did very well, and which most of them had never had before! I'm on the wrong computer; if I can find the birthday photo tomorrow, I'll put it in my photo album. #lilialesbirthdaycountdown

liliales birthday countdown: 1971-72

For my 6th birthday, Mom invited the entire kindergarten class, and nearly all of them came. It was wild. I wore my cowboy outfit, and a boy broke one of my new toys; I forget which. Also, I got my Dawn doll,
and Mrs. Farren gave me the coolest clothes for her; a set which had black hiphugger jeans. Looking back, it's easy to see Mrs. Farren had it going on, even though you wouldn't have thought it by looking at her, maybe. Her son, my classmate, was named Roy. I liked him, though he was a little odd. He's one of the ones I sometimes wonder about, don't know much about him other than I think he got married pretty young. 

At the beginning of 1st grade, I started riding the "big" school bus, and sometimes sat next to a girl named Janna. She was in 2nd grade, and we sang "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night together. 

In 1st grade, my teacher was Mrs. McCue, and she had a son named Larry, who made fun of my big nose, endlessly. But his nose was even bigger...

I loved my phonics workbook, and learning to read. I didn't learn early like my brother and some other people I know now, who like to talk about reading in the crib or whatever. I just learned to read all at once.

For my 7th birthday, I got a green bicycle, a softball bat and glove, and from my grandma, a green record player with a big box of records. They were nursery rhymes, folk songs, and the like, and I had two favorites; "Buffalo Gals," and "Reuben Reuben." Here is a fun performance of that song, featuring the late great Patsy Cline. 

The first pop song I just had to have was considered a "golden oldie" then. It was "Chantilly Lace," by The Big Bopper. I called the new oldies station, KUDL-FM, to request it, with the help of my dad. And my parents searched all over to find the 45 for me. This video is special, because Dick Clark introduces the song...

I had a birthday party with just a few girls invited, and we ate baked burritos, which my mom did very well, and which most of them had never had before! I'm on the wrong computer; if I can find the birthday photo tomorrow, I'll put it in my photo album.

liliales birthday countdown: 1970-1971

According to the calendar, I should be up to age 12 today in my#lilialesbirthdaycountdown! And I'm going to catch that up today, mostly by sharing my favorite songs and sometimes movies and TV shows from each of those years. But first, a few kindergarten memories. :-)

Because of our forced move from the beloved bit of country in the city, to a house in the actual (sort of) country, I started kindergarten a couple weeks late. The other kids were already used to things, the cubbies, the tables, the instructions for "doing papers," and the 20 minute nap. They were embarrassed when I cried after Mom left. But I adapted quickly, largely. Except to the nap...

I remember we visited the "cow plex," a nearby dairy farm, and then we churned butter. It made me think I didn't like butter, for years! But it was fun to do. I remember my navy blue swiss-dotted skirt that was forever getting lost, and Mom would find it behind the dryer or something. I remember that we got happy faces on our papers when we did well, and sad faces when we did not. I got one sad face that year, and felt mortified by it. However, there was a girl named Glenda who used only the red crayon when we were supposed to color shapes according to a number chart, and she appalled me. She never even tried to color in the lines. Then she "went away," as kids sometimes did in those days. 

These two pictures were taken at about the same time, in the spring of 1971. I had chicken pox just about then, at Easter; in recovery when the second photo was taken. 

A favorite song in kindergarten:  

Tonight's martini

You might know I love Hendrick's gin. I would marry it. I also quite enjoy Junipero, Tanqueray Ten, and Martin Miller's. Can live without the rest that I've tried so far. But last week I was given a bottle of the exquisite Nolet's Silver gin. I cannot say enough good things about it. And I aim to drink most of it neat, or maybe on the rocks if I'm impatient for chilling. Yeah, I don't even have it in the freezer; it seemed too beautiful to not stand out on the liquor shelves. And it's floral. It requires no mixing, though I was daunted at first by its 46.5% abv. No need to be.

Tonight I decided to try it in a martini, just to see, you know. I used 3 ounces of the Nolet's and 1/2 ounce of Noilly Prat dry vermouth, and garnished with two cocktail onions, making it a Gibson rather than a martini. 

Well, it was perfect in one sense; tasting like class, and craftsmanship. But it was almost too much so, and I realized that its floral character too much matches the character of the vermouth. So I threw in a couple of Spanish olives and about 1/2 teaspoon of olive juice. It felt like sacrilege, but made a better martini. Which is to say, more perfect. 

I believe Hendrick's makes the better martini. But the Nolet's, to drink chilled, is such an unexpected treat I feel almost honored to taste it on my tongue...