In the dustbin of our cultural history

Some years ago I attended the retirment party of a man who had been my sixth grade teacher. Of all the teachers and instuctors I’d had, our would have after, he was my favorite. It had been his first year of teaching too, and when he married the summer after he invited the class to his wedding.

I had brought with me a picture of our class(1966-1967). I showed it to a young girl who was at that time in the sixth grade, as I had been. She looked at it and remarked “You’re all(the girls) wearing dresses!”
I explained that it had been a requirement, and we could only wear pants on gym day; “Oh, I’d just die!” she exclaimed. “No you wouldn’t” I replied.

This kind of dress code wouldn’t fly now, it’s a thing of the past.

My grandmother, in 1926, was a teacher in a one room school. She and my grandfather wanted to get married, but if she did she’d have to quit her job. So they married in secret, and snuck around til the end of the school year. Obviously, having to quit like that would not happen now.

What other situations can you think of that are one with the snows of yesteryear?

My wife’s piano teacher was a young unmarried woman back in the 20’s. She went sledding on a date. It was in a town some miles away from where she worked.

On Monday she was called into the principal’s office and the following words were spoken:
Miss Partridge, you were seen wearing knickers!

My wife told me that story more than 40 years ago and I still chuckle at it.

I, a Caucasian, am now married to a Korean. It was not that long ago (actually, within my lifetime) that the United States Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage.

I remember a story my mother told me, from the early 50’s, when she was in nursing school. Of course they all had to wear white, but that’s not the story. She said if a doctor entered the room nurses had to stand up. It was a requirement.

One of my older cousins told me that when he had a summer job working in a drug store as a teenager, one of his jobs was to wrap each box of tampons in brown paper, with no identifying marks, other than the price. That’s how they were put on the shelves.

Similarly, my mother was a stewardess for United Airlines in the early 1960s. At that time, the U.S. airlines could and would fire a stewardess if she got married or pregnant.

My mom did quit when she got married to my dad, but several of her roommates were among the stewardesses who fought to have those rules changed, and went on to have careers as flight attendants.

My husband and I were together for 28 years before we were allowed to marry, because we’re both male.

Yep. Thanks for posting that. I neglected to mention that very recent change in marriage equality.

In grade nine, 1976-77, in Whitby, Ontario, boys were not allowed to take “home economics” (cooking, sewing, household management), and girls were not allowed to take “auto shop” (how a car works, basic car repair, etc).

My husband’s grandmother wasn’t allowed to be trained in any sort of trade or career, because she “was needed to help her mother at home”

Similarly, my grandfather wasn’t allowed to go to university (where he had a scholarship) because he “was needed to earn money for the family”

It’s taking longer than we thought.

Yeah, more common than people think it was. Around the same time I wanted to take wood shop and drafting instead of home economics. My god, the uproar! It eventually went all the way to the school board for approval, the vote to allow it was very close … it was like Oliver Twist asking for “more” except I hadn’t had any to begin with.

The shop teacher was skeptical, but once he saw I was serious about wanting to learn the skills he taught it was OK. The boys seemed to accept me by the end of the first week. When we got the drafting that teacher was obviously Not Happy but tolerated me. Meanwhile, the boys were asking me for grooming tips, asking for suggestions on how to talk to girls they liked, and wanted information on what tampons and douches were. The drafting teacher refused to believe a girl was behind the Paper Airplane Incident.

Two years later the school board decided that maybe EVERYONE should take home ec, shop, and drafting so everyone would learn all those skills. The shop teacher shrugged and said OK. The drafting teacher quit rather than have to put up with any more girls.

Interesting. By contrast, at Hudson Junior High School in Hudson, Ohio, in 1978-1981, all students, boys and girls alike, were required to take both Home Ec classes (Sewing and Cooking) and both Shop classes (Metal and Wood). Nor were they blow-off classes; the Cooking classroom had eight fully functional kitchens, and we were expected to prepare, cook, and eat a dish during each class. The final project for metal shop could be made with sand-casting, spot welding, arc welding, or other fairly advanced - for thirteen year-olds - techniques.

Even then, though, I think I understood that Hudson’s school system was unusually progressive and well-funded.

When I enlisted in the Navy - at age 19 - I had to have a permission slip signed by my parents. Boys didn’t need permission, but us poor, addle-pated girls did.

And I was miffed in high school that I had to take cooking and sewing (my mom had already taught me to do both) but I couldn’t take shop classes. What a wasted class period that was…

Yeah, at the time I was due for “home ec” my mom was in the hospital - I was already planning and cooking meals for the family on a daily basis. And you want to “teach” me to make brownies? Really? My argument was that I got enough of the cooking/cleaning/sewing at home already every day and I wanted to do something different. Like woodshop and drafting.

Checking in from the UK - not sure how we compare with (eg) the US, historically, but over here:

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom (citation 1967 c. 60). It legalized homosexual acts, on the condition that they were consensual, in private and between two men who had attained the age of 21. The Act applied only to England and Wales. The law was extended to Scotland by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and to Northern Ireland by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.

My bold. Source.

Staggering, isn’t it?


When I was growing up in the far north of England it was common practice, even in modestly sized houses, to have a “Front Parlour”. This was the room kept in an immaculate state of neatness, where the best furniture was, where the best ornaments were displayed, and which was almost never used. If for some reason you had to step inside someone’s front parlour - the door was always kept closed - it was always the coldest room in the house, unheated - why would you heat a room you didn’t use?

I guess you would say that it was a room set aside for “formal” occasions - which in my memory was pretty much restricted to births, marriages and deaths, but I suppose practice varied somewhat by household. Again, in my memory, if I found myself in someone’s front parlour it was almost always following a funeral service.


There was a similar tradition in Germany. It was called “die gute Stube”, “the good chamber”, and was only used on high holidays like Christmas and Easter. The tradition had already almost died out when I was growing up, but the family of my best childhood friend still had one. I went in and out of their house like I was family, but only learned years later that this room even existed. I found it to be a colossal waste.

Round about 1979, there was an uproar in my high school regarding the awarding of “best athlete” for the year. You see, far and away the most accomplished was a female cross-country runner. So, well, we can’t have a female “best athlete”, can we. I mean, it’s a GIRL, after all!

I went to parochial high school in the 1960s, in which there were separate Boys’ and Girls’ schools about three blocks apart. The Girls’ Academy didn’t teach Physics, while we got the class in Senior Year. So the six smartest (:wink: ) girls got to walk over to the Boys’ school every day to attend that class. Since it was our only exposure to girls during the school day, a lot of giggling and note passing took place (in both directions).

On rare occasions I had to go over to the Girls’ Academy for Drama Club or such, when we would be watched by the nuns like a fox in a henhouse.:slight_smile: