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Books by Alan Cook
Sex, Girls and Me in the Fifties
By Alan Cook
Last edited: Monday, December 24, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2010



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Alan Cook

• Grief: Why Writers Get it Wrong
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If you think there wasn't any sex in the fifties, you're right--at least as far as I was concerned. See my mystery novel, "The Hayloft" for more stories about high school in the fifties.

 

Actually, the title of this should probably be "Lack of Sex, Not Many Girls and Me in the Fifties." The fifties arrived before sex, drugs and a lot of other things became popular.
 
In high school I was socially inept in an age of taboos, which meant that my sexual activities were even more limited than most people's. To give you an idea of the thinking that went on then, a friend and I published a sort of scandal sheet and distributed it throughout our high school early one morning. The worst thing about it was that one of the articles was libelous (which I regret) but the rest of it was pretty tame by today's standards.
 
You would have thought the school had been bombed. Never have I seen an administration go into action so fast. All copies of this rag had been rounded up by 8:30, and an unfortunate boy who was caught with one later received 30 days detention. There was no question about who had published it since my friend and I also produced the school newspaper. We not only got 30 days detention but were kicked out of the National Honor Society as well.
 
When the principal chastised me he pointed to a sentence that referred to sports fans as athletic supporters, and in a quivering voice asked me if I knew what that phrase meant. I was too cowardly to say, "It means jockstraps--so what?" Not only could you not say "jockstrap" in a school publication, you couldn't even use a substitute expression.
 
I had some contact with girls. Penny came on to me as early as eighth grade. Once, when we were riding on a bus for a field trip, she was sitting across the aisle from me. She kept lifting her leg up and kicking me in the thigh. I didn't know what to do about it. Someone suggested that I grab her leg. Of course she didn't kick me any more after that.  I have a slow-twitch brain. I always think of the right thing to say or do hours or years after the occasion passes.
 
Donna and Jean took me to parties and dances several times. I was chicken and when I caught the pillow with the lights out during a kissing game I threw it away before they were turned back on. Donna and Jean both wore glasses and I didn't grab my opportunities, so to speak, even though Donna had big, uh, boobs. And I should have paid more attention to Jean because when I saw her a few years later she looked delicious.
 
I was a member of and sometime president of the Presbyterian Church young people's group. One time our minister took Bronwyn and me somewhere in his car. I had known Bronwyn when we were very young in another town. She moved away and later moved to my new town. Now, all grown up, she wanted to play kissing games with me right there in the car with the minister. Of course I had to behave myself. Why do these opportunities always come at the most awkward times?
 
Even though I was from a small town in western New York, we had glamour in our class in the person of Aimee. The name Aimee has an accent mark over one of the e's so you won't pronounce it Amy. Aimee must have had some French blood--she certainly looked exotic enough. I think she was from Louisiana. I never quite got up the courage to ask Aimee for a date, even though she was very friendly.
 
The cutest girl in the school was Mary Ann, whose nickname was Toot (rhymes with soot). She was also the most popular. She stood about five feet tall, soaking wet. When I was a senior I ran for student council president. So did Dick, who was six-foot-three and played football and basketball. So did Roger, arguably the handsomest boy in our class who sang the lead in our musicals. So did Toot. Toot whipped us all handily. She was later featured in a national magazine as a young housewife.
 
Although there wasn't much sex, there was some kissing, but it was tightly regulated. It was called necking because all the action occurred from the neck up. It was rumored that there was also something called petting, although good girls didn't do it, and all girls were good in the fifties. But there were also rumors about teeth marks on bedposts.
 
One of my few triumphs with the opposite sex in high school occurred with Donnie. She was pretty and popular—in fact she was a cheerleader. All girls wore dresses or skirts to school in those days, no questions asked. There were no jeans, shorts, warmup suits or leotards. Skirts were long, even cheerleader skirts, which came to well below the knee.
 
Donnie's clothing style was the slightest bit risque. Almost all the girls wore full slips. Now don't get me wrong, Donnie was a good girl, but she wore only (gasp) half-slips. I don't think today's teenage girls know what slips are.
 
I got the part of the male romantic lead in our Junior Play, January Thaw. The play takes place in the east, but I played a young man who is going to college in California. Strangely enough, although I grew up near Buffalo, I later went to college in California. And then stayed.
 
Donnie was the female romantic lead. Because we were the romantic leads we had to kiss each other. To show you how dumb I was, I didn't want to kiss her. It's not that I didn't want to kiss her, I was scared to kiss her. Well, as the dress rehearsal neared I was forced to kiss her. I found that I liked it and wanted more.
 
Maybe Donnie got cold feet because as we approached a live performance she told me she would kiss me on the cheek so as not to get lipstick on my mouth. However, my masculine passions were aroused and during the play I kissed her on the mouth. She forgave me; in my senior yearbook she wrote that she would never forget the Junior Play. I will never forget Donnie.
 
In a class full of pretty girls, perhaps the most beautiful was Diane. I had a crush on Diane, but I was never able to date her. At that time I considered myself to be a brain. Subsequent events proved the fallacy of this thinking, but when you are in high school you need something to cling to.
 
I can't remember what kind of a line I used with Diane, but it must have been pretty awful because she wrote in my yearbook, "Don't expect too much of us 'dumb' ones, Al." She became an occupational therapist and married a doctor. Talk about dumb. I ran into her in Michigan a few years later and asked her out. Of course she was busy.
 
There wasn't a lot of physical contact between the sexes in our high school except for some hand-holding. There was none of the spontaneous hugging that routinely occurs between boys and girls today. The one exception to this was dancing. We slow-danced, holding onto and in some cases clinging to each other.
 
We danced to Nat King Cole, the Andrews Sisters, Patti Paige, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Although I wasn't exactly Fred Astaire I danced as much as I could as a substitute for sex. I danced with Penny, Donna, Jean, Aimee, Toot, Donnie, Diane, and other girls too numerous to mention. Nothing notable happened on a dance floor, but once Diane told me I was holding her too tight.
 
I was a member of the Honor Legion. We were hall monitors between classes. Once a month each of us patrolled the halls all day. One day while on all-day duty I was walking by the door to the girls' locker room when a girl was evidently pushed out into the hall. She was wearing only a bra and panties. She was back inside that door so fast that I didn't even recognize her.
 
Otherwise, the only nudity I came into contact with at my high school was occasional pictures taken in the girls' locker room that got passed around. However, the girls were always partially dressed.
 
Girls did sometimes wear see-through blouses. In fact, Ellen wore them once or twice a week, but she also wore full slips. Still, to a drooling sixteen-year-old....
 
When a boy brought a nudist magazine to school, Donna pointed out the girls who would look good in swimsuits. Maybe she missed the point. Once a boy showed me an actual photograph, taken by his older brother, of two girls wearing only panties and garter belts. It almost blew my mind. Those girls obviously weren't from my high school.
 
When I got to college I learned about Playboy. Thank God for Hugh Hefner.

 

 

 

Web Site Alan Cook, Mystery and walking writer
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Reviewed by Debra Conklin
A lot of girls, Alan...but it sounds like a lot of frustration for a teenage boy. Nowadays if a girl DOESN'T have sex, there's something wrong with her...what a switch.
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