Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.
(Another rerun I haven’t written to before. It’s a conspiracy.)
So. When I was sixteen, I was a junior in high school. I was rejoicing because I didn’t have to take gym any more. It was the only thing that kept me from a 4.0, and I thought that was totally unfair. Still do. I just wasn’t an athlete. I tried hard, but it was never enough.
I had a two-year-old brother. My sister had left for college, and my mom was sick often, so I had a lot of experience in the care and feeding of a male infant and toddler. That experience stood me in good stead a few years later when I started having my own brood. I was never nervous about handling a new baby.
I loved school. We lived in a small farm town in southern Minnesota, where my dad was the pastor of a little Baptist church. I enjoyed my classes, and did well. Physics was a struggle that year, and I’ll never know how I pulled a decent grade because I never understood most of it. I did learn how to figure out what formula applied to what annoying problem. I think our teacher was really good, but he just couldn’t light a fire under me for his subject.
I was in the school choir, which I loved. I also worked on the school newspaper, and I was on the layout staff for the yearbook. This was back in the day before computers, so layouts were done by hand, with pictures, rulers, scissors, and glue. Same with the paper. You typed your piece on a manual typewriter, and you had to know how to justify margins and all that stuff. I was the first page editor, so it was my job for two years to go down to the town’s newspaper office and watch the printer set up the page the old-fashioned way, with little metal letter blocks, ink, and a roller. It was fascinating, and I never got tired of watching his hands fly over his tools. He was amazing. Then I got to proof the page, and watch it come off the print machine. I loved the smell of the fresh ink and new paper.
Let’s see. I also participated in speech competition, known as Declamation back then. I competed in storytelling, debate, and extemporaneous speaking. Loved it. Did pretty well.
My greatest love was the piano. I didn’t have lessons because that just wasn’t in the budget. I’d taught myself to play when I was about ten. When we moved back to Minnesota, an older retired piano teacher offered to take me on for free. I was thrilled. I walked over a mile to her place each week, played for her, and walked back home. She introduced me to music I’d never thought I could play. That was a true highlight for me.
On a more personal level, I’d already been through my first boyfriend and the inevitable breakup. He lived in Oregon. We moved to Minnesota. After shedding the appropriate number of tears and sighing my way through the trauma, I recovered quite nicely and met a couple of new guys that kept my attention. Isn’t it amazing how we think we’re going to die, and then, Surprise! we get over it and continue to grow up 🙂
A major event that year, 1963: November 22, the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
All right, I’m sure you’ve had enough by now. Kind of fun to reminisce. Sixteen was a good year for me. So was seventeen, and eighteen. . . .just pick one. I’ve had a blessed life.
This song was still pretty popular in 1963: