My metamorphosis

I would like to thank you all for your heart felt comments on my previous post.  They were a great help to Mo and I, in what is a very sad time for us. I can’t think of anything funny to post at the moment, so here is a snippet from my life in the 60’s.

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I was 15 and about to leave school and step out into the big wide world. It was usual for your mother or father to come to the school and meet with your form teacher to discuss a job for you.

It was 1961 and very few people stayed on at school to take GCE’s, as they were called then – just a handful out of the ‘A’ stream class. I was in the A stream, but I hadn’t even thought about staying on, until one day a teacher bellowed out, “Leach! Why aren’t you staying on?” I, in my usual very shy way, just said “I don’t know sir” and cringed at the attention it bought me. No more was ever said on the subject.

Anyway, there I was with my mum and my favourite teacher, Miss Richardson. She was, in fact, the only decent teacher we had in the whole school! She made you feel important. She actually held a two way conversation with you, and listened to you! It was unheard of in our school. We were always bellowed at, and told to be quiet if we attempted to reply to a teacher. She was younger than any of the other teachers – a breath of fresh air. Needless to say she didn’t fit the mould, and didn’t stay very long. She left soon after I did. I count myself fortunate to have been in her class in her only year at our school.

With my mum at my side, Miss Richardson said “What sort of job did you have in mind?”

“A hairdresser” I said. Well didn’t everybody want to be a hairdresser?

She smiled. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do something you have a talent for” she said. I looked at her and she smiled again. “What about your art? You have a real talent. Wouldn’t you like a job that used that talent?”

“Ok” I said, not really seeing the importance of all this at that young age. She immediately fixed me up with an interview, and handed my mum the details.

You need to understand that a 15 year old, back then, was little more than a child, probably equivalent to an 11 year old today, and still wearing white ankle socks. I find it very strange that, as young as we were, the vast majority of us were soon to be holding down full time jobs, and we accepted that responsibility easily and eagerly – one day wearing ankle socks and bushy eyebrows, the next, wrestling with suspender belts, high heels and make up. It really was that sudden a transformation. Yet we handled it.

< Me, just before I left school – Bushy eyebrows intact.

Mum had taken me out and bought me my first set of ‘adult’ clothes. The image of my new coat makes me cringe now, but it was ‘hot’ when I chose it. It was a straight wrap over coat with a tie belt. Wait for it…. It was red plaid! Very fashionable in 1961, but UUUGHHH!

The day came for my interview and, again, mum came with me. Parents always accompanied their child to their first interview. It was expected by the would be employer. I got the job, as a trainee designer and was due to start one week after I left school. My salary would be five guineas, which was £5.25 pence ($8.35 US). It was a very good salary in those days, and set a future trend for me. After all, this was the beginning of the sixties and everything was plentiful, including jobs.

I thank Miss Richardson, and often think about her. She made my last year at school a good year, and set my future up for me, because she cared. I hope she’s had a good life.

 

  • What an amazing story.  I graduated from high school at 17 in 1963.  A week after graduation, I was working at an insurance company.  In my family, you get out of school, you get a job.  At 18, I moved into my own apartment and never looked back.  At 19, I married and became a mother at 21.  It sounds so weird now (with kids living at home till the are 30 and beyond).  I did go to college at night in my 30s.  It was hard because I worked full time, went at night, and was a single mother of 2.  But in a way, I’m glad I had those experiences because it taught me “self reliance”.

    I’m so glad you had a teacher to mentor you.  You have such talent and I don’t think you would have enjoyed being a hairdresser at all!

    • So does this make us the same age? And I thought I was the oldest blogger in the world 🙂 We all started work a week after leaving school and all my older sister’s were married at 19. I was the oldest, at 23 🙂

      • Actually, Babs, I think we might even be twins.  I turned 66 in January.  We’re considered “Oldies but Goodies” now.

        • Oh my! You learn something every day. We are like fine vintage wine 🙂

  • Wow. Miss Richardson was an amazing teacher you were lucky yo have her.

    But I can’t believe they sent people out at  such a young age to get jobs. 

    And, you should STILL think about doing something with your art, Babs. You are incredibly talented. 

    • At fifteen, you became an adult – overnight 🙂 The funny thing is that we were so much younger at 15 than kids are today, yet so much more mature, in the sense of responsibilities and going out to face the big wide world alone. I didn’t just get a local job. I went straight into London’s West End! I loved every minute of it too.

      • That’s just incredible, Babs!
        I learn SO much from you.
        And I am always fascinated!

        • I used to be fascinated when my mum or dad told us about there young life too. Things change so much in a generation.

  • Adorable picture! My mother never let me pick what I wanted. It was always her way 🙁
    Still thinking of you, girls 🙂
    Hugs from Ohio,
    I.

    • Being second to youngest of 5 girls, I always wore ‘hand-me-downs’ That was the first outfit I ever had bought from a shop. Mum made that very special for me 🙂

  • Ron

    First, I am so sorry I’m late to this post but once again, I didn’t get it on my reader, so I decided to stop by to see if you had posted 🙂

    Second, I LOVE THIS POST, BABS! Touching and inspiring!

    I can’t tell you how much by just reading this, it brought back so many memories for me as a kid growing up. Miss Richardson reminded be of a teacher I had in acting school (when I was 17 years old). He was the ONLY teacher I had who could see my talent, and encouraged me to do more with it. He was one of those people who could see that I had acting ability, but it was organic, not book-taught. So, after the school administration rejected me after my first year there, because they said I was a “limited actor”, this teacher told me to ignore them and go out into world and pursue acting on my own. And he was right, because I did  up being a professional actor for many, many years.

    I had no idea you went to school for art, but I’m not at all surprised to hear that because of your writing and brilliant videos you put together on this blog. I can ‘sense’ your artistic talent!

    Again, awesome post, Babs! And great photo! What beautifully kind eyes you have!

    Much X to you and Mo!

     

    • We could all do with a teacher like that in our lives. Some teachers can cause a lot of damage with their thoughtless remarks! Limited actor indeed! What do they know?
      I didn’t go to art school. Everything I do is self taught. I muddle through 😉 Most of my family are artistic/creative in one way or another. It must be inherited from our dad 🙂
      Nobody has ever said I had kind eyes before – Thank you 🙂

      • Ron

        “I didn’t go to art school. Everything I do is self taught. I muddle through ;)”

        See! That just goes to show you have a NATURAL talent! I sometimes think that going to school to learn something artist (if you have a god-given natural ability), is more of a hindrance because it stifles it.

        You and I (in many ways) are so similar. I much prefer learning things by following my intuition.

        And yes, you DO have kind eyes, my friend. And you know what they say about eyes….they’re the windows to our soul!

        X

  • Swubird

    Babs:

    A very nice story that took me back to my school days. I guess we’ve all had one or two good teachers that left us with a lifelong memory.  I certainly did. And, of course, that first job, what an eye opener. In an instant we went from play days to work days. What a shock. But, like you said, it was just what we expected. Now days I don’t know what the kids expect, but it sure isn’t responsibility.

    As always, happy trails. 

    • It is certainly very different now. Many young people have no idea what responsibility is. Thankfully, there are still many who do, or what would the world become?

  • You were very lucky to have someone looking after your interests.  That is such a young age, in a way, but at that time it was expected that you make your way in the world.  Now, for some it is fun and games.  On the serious side, there are a great many smart, motivated young people who will do very well in life.

    • Yes, you are right. There are many hard working youngsters, who have the right attitude to responsibility 🙂

  • Liudwp

    So terrible -from one day to other… Fortunatelly, you had a person who showed you a good direction.

    We had 3 months to decide what to do: they gave us the possibility to continue our studies. After that, if we did not become students, at 16-17, we had to began to work, too.

    • We grew up faster though eh?

      • Liudwp

        We, 17 years later, were just more spoilt. We had not this qualifyed help to choose the way. I decided everything myself -where to go, what to do. And… I did not want to have a help, I said, I’m brave, I can do everything myself. Now, remembering it, I think, it would be better if we were less “independent”, you know…

        • We had no real choices at the beginning of the 60’s. It was either office work, shop work or factory work. I was very fortunate.