Typical Going Steady Bracelet from the 1960’s
Professor Joe Goldblatt
Just up the steep hill from my childhood home was a mysterious and not so secret meeting place known as Peterson’s Pond. It was actually a small pond that was part of the private estate of Old Man Peterson. We ten year olds bestowed this honorific title upon Mr Peterson because he was somewhat grumpy and we felt it was a right of passage to sneak past his foreboding electric fence and sit by his bucolic pond.
His pond was also a romantic spot where a number of pre – adoloscent trysts took place. One hot summer afternoon I decided to make this make this right of passage and pilgrimage to Peterson’s Pond to ask my girlfiend Patty if she would go steady with me. It seemed to be a ‘thing’ for ten year old boys to pop the question to their girl friends at that time and place. Therefore, I first began many weeks of saving my pocket money (allowance) and then visited the small local jewelry shop.
I entered the small shop and the rings, pendants, and other dazzling gems, given my short stature, were at eye level. Blushing from head to toe, I looked up and told the attractive young saleswoman that I was in search of a ‘Going Steady’ bracelet and with a wink of her eye she found the perfect item. She presented the bracelet to me upon a purple velvet cloth as though it was a crown jewel. I examined it carefully and then summoned the courage to ask the price.
She smiled broadly and replied “This beauty is only $4.95 (£3.93). She will love it!” I was immediately convinced it was the perfect present, however, I was still a few pence short in being able to afford this precious gift. I carefully counted out my coins upon the counter and the wonderful sales woman said “That’s enough. The rest is on me!” I was instantly surprised, relieved, grateful, and hopeful that now Patty would accept this bracelet.
I asked Patty to meet me at Peterson’s Pond and after chatting for a few minutes I reached inside my pocket and extracted the bracelet that was still resting in the paper bag that had been given to me by the jeweler. Handing the crumpled bag to Patty, in a mumbling voice, I asked her if she would like to go steady. She carefully opened the bag, placed the golden bracelet upon her tiny wrist, then nodded her head in agreement and the deed was finally done.
Our relationship only lasted a few weeks and then Patty returned the bracelet telling me that her mother had said she was too young to go steady. However, in fact, an older, taller, more handsome, and more athletic lad had also appeared on the scene and soon he was also seen regularly holding Patty’s hand in the playground.
I kept that bracelet for many years to remind me of my first love and of the sometime fickleness of romance. However, everytime my eyes came upon it in my bedroom dresser drawer, I drew a deep breath and felt my heart pang as I remembered what was was my first moment of lost puppy love.
Some years later when I turned thirteen, on a Saturday night, I returned home from the Mesquite Championship Rodeo where I was the top programme salesman. My pockets were bulging with cash from my sales commissions.
Upon entering my home my mother introduced me to a young girl named Brandy who was fourteen. Brandy lived in west Texas and she was a championship barrel racer in local rodeos. A barrel racer is a cowboy or girl who races around large barrels upon horseback. Brandy had blonde pigtails and wore crisp new blue jeans and a calico top that was tied just above her waist revealing her belly button.
Mama suggested that I show Brandy the rear gardens behind our home. Did she know my heart was still aching over the loss of Patty?
Brandy and I climbed the steep steps and sat beneath the fountain in our flowering chinese style gardens. Suddenly, Brandy placed her warm hands upon my cheeks and give me a long passionate kiss upon my trembling lips. I thought I was having a heart attack as my blood pressure rose even higher than the pecan trees towering above us.
After a few minutes of further kissing, Brandy announced she was thirsty and I suggested we return to my home for drinks. As we entered the house I must have looked as though I had just returned from a major affair as my Brylcream slicked back hair was now tousled and my face and neck had turned bright red.
Mama and her friend, Brandy’s older sister, looked at us long and hard and then smiled somewhat knowingly. I quickly offered Brandy a Coca Cola and then she and her sister soon departed.
I never saw Brandy again. However, she remained in my childhood dreams for a long time until many years later when the one true love of my life suddenly appeared.
When I first met Nancy she was a professional Mime and was wearing white face makeup, red hearts upon each cheek, with a large red rectangle upon her nose. She was also wearing a red skin tight leotard revealing her curvacious hips along with black tights showcasing her shapely long legs. I fell instantly and deeply in love.
Upon meeting Nancy, I immediately invited her to join me for what I described as a date. The date was actually a tour that I was conducting for 50 older women who wanted to explore the burlesque theatres in Baltimore, Maryland. Nancy immediately accepted my invitation and we met again the following evening as we boarded a doubledecker bus.
At the first burlesque theatre there was a large public dance floor and I told Nancy I needed to dance with a few of the ladies who were on our tour. She understood and a few minutes later when I glanced across the dance floor I saw Nancy leading a circle dance with ten of the other ladies. At that moment I thought, “I have met my perfect match!”
As we returned home I used a typical male pick up line inviting Nancy for a drink back at my house. She turned me down saying she had an early morning the next day because she was performing as a clown at a child’s birthday party. I was very disappointed, however, I had also failed to get her phone number and soon I was devastated.
In 1977 there was no internet, no social media, so the only way of finding her other than going to the police, was to wait and hope. Several weeks later, one humid summer evening, I carefully crossed a pedestrian bridge where several local citizens had been recently mugged. Suddenly, a I felt a huge thud upon my back and when I turned around in shock I soon discovered it was Nancy! Before I could regain my breath to speak she said coyly “I just thought you might like some company?”
Well, we have now been keeping company, going steady, for 47 years and together we have welcomed two amazing sons, their beautiful and loving wives, and two brilliant grandsons. Those other romances have long since evaporated as many more happier memories have been made with the one true love of my life.
Recently, one of my social media friends wrote that she, who also is in her seventies, felt that in her heart she is still twelve years old, albeit, with some additional postage and handling along the way. The singer / songwriter from my youth, Janis Ian (who had a top hit with “Seventeen”) also recently wrote about her long life in “I’m Still Standing”:
And I would not trade a line
Make it smooth and fine
Or pretend that time stands still
I plan to rest my soul
Here where it can grow without fear
‘Nother line, another year
I’m still standing here
I’m still standing here
I’m still standing here
Copyright Rude Girl Publishing, bmi
Therefore, that moment at Peterson’s Pond and that first passionate kiss have evaporated rapidly and greatly in comparison to the nearly half a century of life, love, and laughter with Nancy. I am immensely proud that we are still going steady and standing here, together.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland. His views are his own. For more information about his views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot