Being a teen in the 50’s was not the same as current day, especially when your father was German and your mother was Italian. My father never spanked us but he was the champion of punishment.
This is one example: Late June 1956 I was 13 and just finishing my first year of High School. There was only about a week or so to go and I could not wait for school to end. No homework to do nightly, no studying for quiz’s or tests, nothing to do but have fun. Until school was out my curfew was 9:30pm. as long as all my chores and homework was complete. We, my sisters and friends were making plenty of plans for the beach, the Aquacade, movies, and anything we could think of. We had grand ideas, of course our parents all had to agree to all of this, but we had high hopes. I figured if we shot ten ideas at them they would maybe agree to about three or four of them. I was determined to get up extra early, do my chores and have a great summer. After all I was a teenager now and I knew it all.
Before school let out I had to be in by 9:30pm as I said. This one night we were all sitting on my friends stoop talking to some boys that lived on our block. Billy V. was among them and I had a huge crush on him. My father and mother were usually sleeping by the time we got home and it was very close to my curfew. I really did not want to leave. I knew if I missed curfew there would be consequences, but that was if I was caught. Yes I shamefully admit I did on occasion get in a little after 9:30. The one thing you have to understand is that in those days we had only one clock in the house. My father did have a wrist watch but he took it off when he got home from work and had to set and wind it in the morning. Our one clock sat on top of our refrigerator. Being that my parents were asleep when we got home if I was five or ten minutes late I would turn the clock back to 9:30 because I knew my father would get up after I was in and I would hear him go into the kitchen then go back to bed. When I heard him snoring again I would tip-toe to the kitchen and fix the time. This was one of those knights. It was about 9:40 or so when I quietly entered the back door to the kitchen and tip-toed over to the refrigerator. I had to get on my tip-toes to reach the clock, but it was possible. With thoughts of Billy on my mind and the up coming summer I was in seventh heaven. I turned the dial to curfew time and smiled. I then turned to go to my room and wound up nose to nose with my dad. I swear I never heard him coming. He was staring at me I didn’t know weather to shit or go blind. “Uh, Uh, Umm, Uh, hi dad,” was all I could manage.
“Get to bed” was his reply. I figured I was dead. I tossed and turned all night thinking about my fate. I had disobeyed a rule. God I wanted to kill Billy V., it was all his fault. When my sisters came in (there curfew was ten. They were a bit older than me.) I told them about what happened.
” We told you not to do that,” my oldest sister said.
” Boy, you are dead. I’m glad I am not in your shoes,” my other sister said, and started laughing.
Morning finally arrived. It was a beautiful sunny day, but I felt a big black cloud hanging over my head. I went into the kitchen. I expected my mother to start yelling at me, nothing. She was her usual happy self, she never even mentioned it. My spirits lifted a little. I went off to school and figured my dad was letting it go. God how lucky can you get, he was finally realizing that ten minutes was no big deal. ALRIGHT! I thought, ” Thank you God.” I said out loud. I was a little nervous entering the house after school, but my mom was fine. I was thrilled. I didn’t even complain when she told me to help her and then set the table. I did it with a smile. I heard my father’s car pull up. My stomach did a flip, but when he came in the house he just said ” high girls.” He acted like nothing happened. I was thrilled. I ran into my sister’s room to let them know I had dodged death. We all went into the kitchen to eat dinner. Some small talk at the table, but only the usual. I looked for sign’s but nothing. When dinner was over I was ready to run, actually I felt I could fly out the door to meet my friends. My sisters and I had to clear the table and do the dishes and then we could go. I said ” Come on girls, let’s get the dishes done, I am suppose to meet Lucille soon.” My father said. ” Arlene and Denni you can go. Your sister Patti will be doing the dishes tonight and every night until school starts again, and the reason for this is that she is a sneak and a liar and please tell her friends she will not be meeting them after dinner until September.”
Yes folks, I was not allowed out after dinner for the whole summer. I tried to talk my parents out of this horrible punishment, but to no avail.
” Maybe this will teach you to respect the rules in this house young lady, and I want you to know that your mother and I were going to extend you curfew, but you are not mature enough for that, so maybe next year.”
Those were the day’s folks. I could not wait for school to start…….