I knew a girl once who was a product of the 5os : not so pretty, not one bit sexy, skinny, reasonably bright, independent , bossy…… but a “good girl “, and being a good girl during that decade was vitally important. Everyone knew and recognized the difference in “good girls ” and ” bad girls ” and the entire town marked the difference. What a concept !
This teenager loved her small Southern town and the culture it represented.
High school was home away from home ; most of the teachers were local and families knew families. The original village, for sure.
Sunday school and church were gathering places for like-minded souls looking for the greater good. Rarely was there a Sunday that God-fearing families did not attend services.
The town square was made up of drugstores, grocery stores, department stores, beauty shops, dime stores, filling stations, cafes, one movie, one hardware store, one shoe shop ( where shoes were actually made ), one hotel, and bales of cotton by the tracks, waiting on the train. There also was a telephone operator whose ” office ” was upstairs overlooking the square.
Dates were football games , school dances and movies, sometimes drive-ins. Double dating was the preferred way.
Life was good for teens in , arguably, the greatest decade.
And referencing drugstores brings to mind that there were two, side-by-side : Vandiver and Macomson was one and J.D. Hicks, another. An interesting scene since both could see who was doing business with whom !
Bob Vandiver’s was where the kids went. He offered a soda fountain with Phyllis Singleton (Cawthon ) , high school student herself , doing her magic of fluffy milkshakes and flat burgers, making everybody happy. And then there was a jukebox for dancing upstairs. What a way to spend an afternoon after a hard day at the high school !
J.D.’s, on the other hand, was one of the places that the men in town ” hung out “, sharing gossip and settling the world’s problems.
One of the funny stories that came out of J.D.’s drugstore was when a local man came in to join the guys. Now this nice man was a little different, but he came from a good family, had a steady job, and was well liked.
On this day he was excited because it was his mother’s birthday, and the family had planned a celebration.
And so, he said, ” Today is Mother’s birthday. She’s 66 and I’m 33. When she was 40, I was 20. When she was 20, I was 10……………..HELL, THAT AIN’T RIGHT !!!!!!! “. Needless to say, this tale traveled the town and made everybody’s day.
And referencing the telephone operator brings to mind how life was without cell phones, but instead, had a second-floor observer whose name was Mrs. “Something ” Brown, but was simply called ” Brown “. Much like the local operator on the Andy Griffith show, “Brown ” knew everything about everybody at any given time of day or night.
She knew who was running around with whom, when the funeral director left the funeral home to pick up a body and whose body it was, how many people had lunch at the hotel, which ladies used which beauty shop, where the fire was when the trucks went out, who shopped at which grocery and where prescriptions were filled, where the ladies were going, depending on how they were dressed and the time of day, and , if asked, I’m sure she would tell you what God was doing at a given time ! She was truly the town crier, the telescope, the magnifying glass, and if alive today, social media.
Kids would call ” Brown ” if they couldn’t reach their parents, and she would tell them where they were, what they were doing, why they were there, and then ring the number. Nosy maybe. But there also was a certain amount of security in that. Nobody felt alone because ” Brown ” was always watching.
There are many more tales to tell and although these two came from Lavonia, similar stories could be found in Royston or Hartwell or Carnesville or Toccoa or any other small towns in the South those many years ago.
And, yes, the teenager was Diane, but it could just as easily have been Jerri or Peggy or Dot or Betsy or Libby or Elizabeth or June or Mary Ann and on and on. Typical indeed.
Let me hear if you enjoyed these ramblings. There’s more where they came from : some happy, some sad, some silly , but all true. I can always share.