When I first got there, I was given a choice on whether or not to join ROTC and I did. In retrospect I would have done it again in a heartbeat but it did play havoc with any social life. Those of in ROTC pretty much stuck together because the other groups just stayed by themselves.
There were the jocks. Well at least they thought so. In a 90% Jewish school, the jocks were legends in their own minds. Of course there were the "bads", the bullies and ruffians which I was to find out were also mostly hot air. The "soches" which were the pretty boys and cheerleader types who were too good to walk in the shadow of anyone else. The "geeks" were the folks in radio club, electric shop, etc. We also had the "brains", those that got A's on anything and everything.
I was a trans-groupie I guess as I spent my time between the ROTC guys and the geeks. What was amazing then and still to this day is that I knew the others and had known most of them for 10 years ever since elementary school. It was almost like a game that we a) didn't know each other and b) didn't like each other, something right out of Grease.
ROTC leaves little memories these days but being a geek was great. I met real people that were genuine like Ed Heyman and Bob Barfield, great guys then and great guys now.
Alexander Hamilton High School was big. Three story brick buildings with a spire that reached to the sky complete with a bell than gave us our daily directions. The auditorium was huge and could fit 1500 people at a time. The campus was several city blocks deep and even had its own rifle range for the ROTC cadets.
OK, Mom was a little upset and Dad said "Shoot your eye out and I will bust your butt". I have a BB Gun and went hunting right in the middle o the city.
I guess the worst thing I did was shoot some birds but they were pests anyway. The sparrows would sit on the power line in back of the house and I would carefully aim that trusty old BB gun and bam, the birds would fall to the ground... sometimes!
I do remember shooting at a target against a concrete wall and the BB came flying past my head as it bounced off the wall. That was as close as I came to shooting by eye out.
In the 1950s, one knew right from wrong... It was built in. I had that gun for years and when we moved from Comey Avenue, I found it again.
It was pretty well rusted and the air-seals were gone. I tried pumping it up and adding oil to the appropriate places but alas, it has seen its better days!
It went in the trash but the memories still survive.
I often think about those days when Christmas time comes around and "The Christmas Story" is played. Ralphie and I had a lot in common!
Light melodies, sweet lyrics, wholesome singers. Innocent and inoffensive songs. All of this can be said about the music of the Early Fifties.
Yet, all that white American complacency could not hold back the vitality of Black R&B music, so a whole new sound emerged - Rock and Roll.
Most of the songs of the Early Fifties were "feel-good" tunes, which genuinely reflected the mood of post World War II America. Artists like Pat Boone, Rosemary Clooney and Perry Como dominated pop charts.
This bored the newly independent life form known as teenagers. Mom and Dad's music wasn't, you know, "cool, Daddy-O."
I was there! Sad, Mom and I went along with Ralph, Carolyn and Paula in Ralph's new red Cadillac convertible. We were dressed to the nine's for the event; no jeans on this day , It was a real adventure and I got to see TV cameras up front and personal. There were crews of people to move the cameras and their heavy cords.
Chemicals were all over the place. It sure would not be allowed today! No one understood digital cameras and we did everything in black and white. We used the schools cameras and they were oldies but goodies.
The consummate nerd I was! In junior high school I tool stage crew and in high school ROTC. Neither of these choices in life do I regret!
ROTC was a hoot but we did take a lot of kidding, some light hearted and some not so light hearted, from the kids I grew up with. This is where I parted ways with my childhood friends for their interests were more sports an social stuff, we called them the "soches". They became the football heroes and the cheer leaders, I became the nerd.
We got to shoot guns on campus (It was in a very carefully supervised rifle rand inside a bunker on the backside of Hamilton High School. We spent a week at Fort McArthur in boot camp one a year. We marched and hung out together with an "all for one and one for all" attitude.
When the bullies decided to take on a ROTC member he could rest assured that the rest of the guys would show up to assist.
ROTC begat Radio Club and there I did meet friends for life. Edward Heyman (WA6EOA) and I correspond to this day. The ROTC gang taught pride in country and pride in self which I practice to this day.
Our grandson Jonathan is in ROTC in high school and I am very proud of him.
One vivid episode was going to Disneyland in full dress regalia, "Pinks and Greens", metals attached, and an evening of people saying "Those soldiers look so young!
Between the World Wars, the Army's lack of uniform tradition and firm uniform policy became even more apparent. Army officers began wearing a semi dress winter uniform which they referred to as their "pinks and greens" - a combination of either a dark yellow-green coat and "pink" (light taupe) trousers, or less often, the same coat and matching green trousers. Military tailors and uniform houses competing for uniform sales catered to the desire of local commanders and individual officers to have a uniform that was slightly different, and the color of the green coat became progressively darker. By World War II Army officers appeared in an unpleasing diversity of shades and combinations of the "pinks" and greens.
Slang has always been the province of the young. Words come in and out of favor in direct proportion to the speed with which they travel through the age ranks. Once college kids know that high school kids are using a term, it becomes passé. And seniors don't want to sound like freshman and so forth. Once a word finds its way to mainstream media or worse, is spoken by parents, no young person with any self-respect would use it.
Fifties slang wasn't particularly colorful as these things go. The Sixties, with its drug and protest culture to draw from, would be slang heaven. In the Fifties, hot-rodders and Beats provided inspiration.
Many of these words, in fact most words can have "ville" added to them. There was coolsville, deadsville, Doodyville, squaresville, weirdsville and so forth.
For those of you seeing this without reading glasses, here's a piece of news for you. "Cool" was our word. We said it a bit differently. Today it is said in a more clipped way. We tended to drag out the pronunciation. But we had it first; we were the originals.
Use of the words would drive mom and Dad a little nuts but they were in general "Cool". Some of the words were disrespectful so I chose NOT to use them, such as "Are you writing a book" which meant "You're asking too many questions".