Today’s post comes from Clyde of Mankato
In the spring of 1965 my world went as topsy-turvy as did the politics and weather of Minnesota. Do you think the picture is a scene from the The Graduate? My world did not go quite that tupsy-turvy in the spring and summer of 1965..
I have related before on this blog the speed and folly of our rapid courtship. What I want to address is a few large changes in that period of history. First I will remind you that on our wedding day I was an infantile 20 years old; she was a mature 25, the adjectives expressing how people perceived our age difference. What strikes me now as I recall that spring and summer, is what a watershed were the years between Sandy’s gradation year, 1958, and mine, 1963.
In Sandy’s big-city high school graduation class going directly to college was uncommon. Few of her women classmates went to a four-year school. Sandy was in about twenty weddings of classmates between 1958 and 1960, with most of the brides pregnant, which was a large social sin at the time. Almost all of those marriages ended in divorce.
Sandy’s life choices were the big three: teacher, nurse, secretary. She chose the later, not conceiving how she could afford to attend college in that time of little support or encouragement for female students, or co-eds, as they were called then in that derogatory manner. The married women never expected to work outside the home, which almost all of them eventually did. Most of the husbands took unskilled jobs, which they had planned to do, or learned a trade from their fathers. At age 25 Sandy was on the brink of spinsterhood.
In my small-town class, despite being one of the least motivated classes in the school’s history, about one-half of my class went to college, about one-half of that one-half were women, several in nursing or teaching, but others choosing other career paths. Only three or four of my classmates, as near as I know, were pregnant for the wedding.
In weddings for her classmates and mine, the husband was zero to seven years older. A younger husband was very rare. Many assumed that our marriage was doomed, both for the speed of our marriage and for the age-difference. Sandy’s classmates did not know how to deal with me. I gather that the same age difference, 20 and 25, is still regarded as a peculiarity only if the man is the younger.
Larger cultural changes were occurring in that five-year gap, too, such as the Viet Nam War and the active objection to it. Civil rights arose. Sandy’s class had one African-American, in a school now dominated by non-white students. My class had one Native-American student. The decade of the 60’s scorned the values and styles the decade of the 50’s. The country turned hard left.
The gap has created some interesting disphasia (my coined word) in our life. When Sandy became pregnant at age 30, which she was not supposed to be capable of doing, the medical world was full of angst at her old age. Our children were born when most of her classmate friends had children starting junior high. Proceeding cultural changes have widened the gap. All but one of her classmate friends have great grandchildren; our grandchildren are age 2, 10, and 12. I know little about my classmates, but they seem to have grandchildren of an age similar to mine.
Her classmates have remained in a narrow world and remained staunch knee-jerk Eisenhower Republicans. Has there been a greater shift in presidents than between lethargic hands-off old Eisenhower and inspiring progressive youthful Kennedy?
All of this change seems to have impacted women more than men. I saw this directly when I was a U of M student. I had none of the interests of the other male students, such as drinking and pursuing co-eds. As a result, I had several friends, whom we called re-treads instead of co-eds. These were women who had married young, often one or two years into college. Now 10-15 years later, they were back in college or had started college. I suppose most of them have since died. They were a fun lot with which to share coffee at Coffman.
How are you disphasic?