Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random Thoughts about Courtship in The 1930"s

Random Thoughts about Courtship in The 1930"s . What do you think about the quote, "the Poet looks at the world like a man looks at a woman" ? One man responded to this quote in the "Word A Day" column by saying "Does that mean poets are afraid of the world?"

One day, when the first of our five daughters was a teenager, my husband watched the smiles and excitement as she talked on the phone with a young male school friend. He remarked, "I wish I had known when I was a teen that girls were waiting at the phone for boys to call."

When he was a kid, he told me, he thought he had to persuade girls to go out with him. He said he had no idea girls were waiting close by the phone for boys to call.
I am told that these days girls do not wait by the phone but initiate the calls themselves. They tell me further, boys do not call a girl that does not call them first. Does this mean males are afraid of females?

Recently I wrote a post about a time when my mother was a fatherless child in the stricken South during reconstruction after The Civil War. Before the South recovered from the terrible destruction of war, it was also faced with the Boll Weevil's destruction of cotton fields at a time when cotton was a major money crop in the South. Then the Great Depression.

But men and women loved and respected one another. Life seemed good in our little corner of the world in spite of all the deprivation. The Christian gospel of Grace brought the beauty of much "graciousness" into our community. The Christian gospel preached by Methodist Circuit Riders and others, in spite of any flaws they may have had, brought about enough "civility" that we could build civilization in our communities. We worked hard and played hard.

I have written about cooking from scratch and how clothes were made at home with long hours of sewing with needle and thread and/or a foot operated Singer sewing machine. No fast foods. No washing machines. Clothes were rubbed by cold chapped hands on a "rub" board and hung to freeze sometimes before they would dry on an outdoor clothes line.

But it seems relationships between male and female was not so complicated.

My husband, Charles, and I were teen agers in the thirties. I can testify that the thirties were not a time when boys were afraid of girls. If they were afraid, they were brave enough to call anyway. (Incidentally, a call was a knock at the door. There were few telephones in homes in the South. It was during World War II before telephones were in many households.)

The teen aged boy I married tells me that when he looked across his school gym and saw me, he said to his buddy nearby, "I am going to ask that girl for a date." A good line? He said he and his friends were taking a look at all the girls on my side of the large gymnasium. The basketball game was in his school's gym playing my school's team. We lived sixteen miles apart.

Are some couples just "meant for each other"? It so happened that Charles had relatives living in my town. I was a school friend of his cousin, Clara. Clara and I were not close friends but did visit back and forth occasionally. One day, a close friend and I happened to be visiting with Clara when Charles and his family came for a Sunday afternoon visit.

Charles was still a teenager and did not have a car but managed to get back to my town on occasion. It was a time when hitchhiking was common, When Charles was unable to hitch a ride one time he actually walked the 16 miles.

His friend, Bill, finally owned a car (with a rumble seat) and the problem was solved. Charles brought Bill down to my town and introduced Bill to my best friend, Julia. Problem again. Bill and Julia got married two months later. So Charles was back to hitching a ride when he could not borrow his Dad's car. Was Julia and Bills marriage so soon after meeting a bad mistake? Not in this case. The marriage lasted over 50 years until Bill's death.

One late afternoon, Charles came down to a pound party. What is a pound party? During these "depression years," the hostess would invite all the kids to her home for a party. Everyone who came, pitched in with refreshments by bringing a "pound of cookies" or fruit or part of a cake or whatever they had on hand. The hostess made a large pitcher of something to drink...punch or cool-aid or ice tea. We played games that would be called "mixers" today, These games would have the boys and girls talking to one another. Parents were nearby but basically out of sight.

It so happened that it was at a pound party when Charles asked me to marry him. One of the games that early evening, had couples to take a walk together. The walk was along a well lighted street with modest frame houses close together and people all along the short walk. Not a great deal of privacy.

While we were walking, he suddenly turned to me and asked, "Will you marry me?" My reply was, "Oh, I am too young to even think about marriage." Charles said, "I do not mean, marriage right now. Could we be engaged? " In retrospect, I suppose it is laughable to think of our innocence and ignorance. But as young we were, we talked quite seriously about what we expected in marriage.

As they say, the "the rest is history
."

16 comments:

Joan said...

Very interesting. I love to read/hear people's memories of their childhoods -- it is so interesting to see how the mores and customs of the time afftect the way people interact. Each generation tends to think that its "way of life" is the standard or the norm.

This reminds me that I haven't written my "Monday Memory" post.

Jane said...

I loved reading this. What great memories. Keep them coming!

Carol said...

I love reading your stories, Mother. Keep on writing them. I hope you're keeping a hard copy of them, too.

Andy McCullough said...

Aunt Ruth, I really enjoyed this story. Thanks for sharing these memories.

Debi said...

Thanks for telling this story, Mother. I don't remember knowing that you had been at a pound party when Daddy asked you to marry him. But, tell the rest of the story, too! When did you decide to go ahead and get married?

don said...

Aunt Ruth, another great stoy! Uncle Charles was such a wonderful uncle and assurely a great dad and husand. I'd heard of pound parties, but never quite knew what they were. didn't realize that yours and Uncle Charle' anniversary was on my dad's ("Willie B>")
birthday aniversary.

Lillian said...

Grandmother, I never knew how you and Grand Shaw got engaged. I love this. Tell me more.

Mike said...

Thanks for the quote from poet and Nobel laurette Rabindranath Tagore. I am a PTLP serving a charge in a very rural area of middle Tennessee and am always looking for new words and ways to tell people that God loves them. Also thank you for your continuing ministry.

Ruth said...

MIke...Thanks for your comment I like to use this Tagore quote at Funerals. So glad you are serving in the UMC as a PTLP. How long? You can Email me at RuthShaw@aol.com

Don said...

I'm reminded of when I was a young reporter at the Constitution. My desk was next to that of the church editor, Kay McLeod. One day, Kay returned from an assignment and said she had just interviewed a wonderful couple in Griffin, a young Methodist preacher and his attractive wife, parents of seven children (it may have been six then..). Little did Kay know she was talking about my beloved Shaws....

Lyn said...

Beautiful story. I love reading your blog posts.

mikolaj gut said...

Hi, I bumped into your blog by accident. I read about it in polish newspaper , it seemed interesting.And it is , in deed. Looking forward for next posts.

Brenda said...

Ruth, it has been a joy to have you, Janice and Gil in our home as you attend Matthew and Emily's weddding. It has been a delight to get to know you in person and via your blog! May God continue to bless you and your family as you continually to faithfully service Him. Blessing! Brenda

creative gal said...

I love reading your blog, am catching up on some of favorite ones. Thanks for sharing. And, as a single gal these days, I agree. It is tough out there! My grandmother speaks of "easier times" with courtship as well! :0) But, it's truly a reason to TRUST GOD in knowing his plan for your life is so perfect.

Ruth said...

Thank you Creative gal. Yes, i am told dating is not the same as it was in my day. Hollywood has taken it's toll. However, having been a widow for over 22 years, I did get back into dating and had several marriage proposals(but with men of my own Pre WWII generation. Your last sentence is great advice for all of us. Thank you and God bless you!

KARNA said...

Thank you for sharing in such a beautiful way. I'm voting for you! I read each and every blog on the voting sheet. YOU are the best ... I really admire you.