13 For a Moment
1.) What year was it when you turned 13 years old?
The year I turned thirteen was 19 and 56.
2.) What style of clothing did you wear?
Styles, as we know them now, were not something we followed, and my mother purchased all of our clothes. Mostly I wore a pair of blue jeans and a casual shirt to school, with tennis shoes or a nicer pair of penny loafers. On Sundays I wore slacks, a shirt and a clip-on tie.
3.) What kind of music did you listen to?
Most often we listened to music that came from either a small radio mother had setting in her kitchen, or a large record collection stored inside a console in our living room. She kept her radio tuned to a local station during the mornings, and they played a mix of big band and popular songs of the era. Some of the artists then were vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Johnny Mercer and Patti Page.
Frankie Laine, and others like Doris Day, Eddie Fisher or Teresa Brewer helped fill the house with music, along with Johnny Rae and Tony Bennett . Les Paul and Mary Ford, or even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir also each had their own brands of lively and different instrumental arrangements, and we liked those too.
In the afternoon, the record player was used a lot. Mom had a large collection, ranging from old-time country and folk music to jazz and classical pieces. By this age I stopped listening to my own collection of little kid records, although a few that I still liked from Peter and the Wolf, the insane Spike Jones, or the grand Nutcracker Suite got played frequently.
4.) What social groups did you belong to in school?
The only social groups I belonged to were Cub Scouts, the Sunday school class at our church, and a football team I joined at school for the first time. I got to make one play during our first time at practice, but after that I was told to go sit on the bench, and I did that for the rest of the season. Football was not a fun time at all.
5.) What snacks did you share at parties? What was your favorite meal?
I had a birthday party every year on the 6th of January. My friends, and my sisters and I ate cake my mom made, and sometimes we had ice cream to go with it, and punch.
My favorite meal was breakfast. Fried eggs, fried bananas, or fried squash and even fried green tomatoes were especial. Then there was bacon or ham, and sometimes a plate of sausage patties brought us to the table. Hot grits, oatmeal or a bowl of cream of wheat, plus a wide variety of cold cereals were also high on my list of favorites, along with a big glass of cold milk or fresh orange juice mom squeezed herself.
6.) What were the big trends?
The first fad that I remember becoming popular was Davy Crockett’s coon skin cap, but that would happen a year later. I did carry a lunch box to school, though.
7.) What did you do during free time? Where would you go?
For free time, I looked for tadpoles in a shallow pond near the house, or built model airplanes or read adventure stories. We put puzzles together as a family and played card games or dominoes. We also sat and watched our new black-and-white television every night until it signed off around ten.
And dad took our family places on the weekends. We visited Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands and Alamogordo Lake in New Mexico. Most of the time we camped out and slept in sleeping bags under the Milky Way, and ate hotdogs with mayonnaise.
Once a family of skunks paid us a visit right after we got snuggled in and the campfire had died down. We all laid still and watched as they pawed at their moon-lit reflections in the chrome hubcaps of dad’s station wagon, like it was another family of skunks living in there. They were fun to watch, too.
We also camped a lot down in the canyons at the edge of the Texas panhandle, and once got caught in a roaring flash flood in the middle of the night. We survived that ordeal, however.
A favorite spot to camp was Palo Duro canyon near Amarillo, which was close to where we lived. Mom broke her tailbone one time sliding down a steep hill, and we all thought it was pretty funny, except her.
8.) How did you earn and spend your money?
I got my first job at 13 caddying at a local golf club. It was hard carrying heavy leather bags from one place to another, and confusing too. I never did learn exactly which club was which, and I hated it. I found I could make more money stealing loose change from clothes left in the swimming pool locker room until I got caught. I got in a lot of trouble for doing that, so I stopped both things.
Mom gave us a small allowance, usually, and I’d always spend it on candy at a near-by market. She also had a big garden, and she let me pick all the cherry tomatoes and take them to the market to sell. I got to keep the money I made, so I just bought more candy. I began to like that more-honest job, too.
9.) What types of notes did you write?
I seldom wrote any notes unless it was stuff for homework. I kept a diary for three days. Mostly I drew things like army war scenes or underwater divers wearing big helmets, fighting off shark attacks and searching for treasure among wrecked ships, and naturally I added lots of bubbles and starfish and clams. Once I drew a picture of a black widow spider that looked pretty creepy, and I chased one of my sisters around the house with it.
10.) Discuss a typical day when you were 13.
During the summer when I was 13, I played outside with my Terrier a lot. Her name was Queenie, and she was a fun dog, except she liked people too much and she ran off one time. She followed after some other kids, and I never saw her again.
Mom had a big willow tree in the front yard. I liked to grab a handful of the branches and swing on it. We had neighbors that had little kids, and we all played together some. One cried one time after I gave him a hot pepper from mom’s garden, and told him it was really candy. He forgave me later though. At night I’d lay on my back in the yard, next to the willow, and watch for shooting stars and look for the Little Dipper.
Winter, when it snowed, we built igloos and had snowball fights, or jumped into huge drifts and tried to get out, which was hard to do. We could never sled at all, because the land was flat everywhere.
That’s me, at thirteen.