Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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I spent my school career through the 8th grade in the small town of Oakmont, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. This tiny, close knit (nosey) community was about the Oakmont Country Club and Edgewater Steel, and some other stuff. For kids it was paradise with millionaire robber baron neighbors providing lavish recreational opportunities. My parents were Republicans who disliked JFK and did not play golf. On one hand they were non conformist, and on the other, very concerned with image. I had a running battle with my mother for my entire grade school career about bangs, permanent waves, and white socks. These symbols of culture and control were so important to my mother that my wishes were never considered. She stuck my hair in the sink and put stinky stuff and curlers in it against my will, and with loud protest. She always cut my bangs off, mullet style. The most important symbol to Ruby Morse was the little girl’s need to wear white anklet socks. This was truly the most hated of all conditions, the white sock purgatory. Ruby Morse believed that wearing stockings was a sign of loose morals. I believed she inflicted the white socks as a crazed statement of micro management. We had deep, basic irreconcilable fashion differences.
Management of any kind was about to fly out the window when the family moved to San Tomé, Venezuela in 1963. My father became the general manager for Mene Grande ( Gulf Oil) for eastern Venezuela. This meant that I lived in a big house with servants and my father was the boss of everyone in the town where I lived. My teachers in school worked for my father, as did all my friends’ parents. Strangers constantly gave me lovely gifts, and it was obviously too hot to wear white socks. I was the lucky imperialist 13-year-old with everything. I lived in a remote place so radio was a lot less available than it had been in Pittsburgh. The strongest reliable signal came from Radio Havana. Fidel would hold forth for hours and then they played some music. Live music was everywhere. I had a harp serenade at my window by a guy who wrote the song for me. This could not have happened in Pennsylvania. Although San Tomé had a golf course, there was no other commonality with Oakmont, PA. Nothing could have been more drastic, really. I loved it, but when given the chance to choose where I would go abroad for 10th grade, I chose PA because I still thought of it as my US home. I have not visited Oakmont since 1964.
I will return to Oakmont to see some of my school friends in a couple of months. We have all traveled different paths, but mine diverged drastically and forever. I am bringing back memories and enjoying the stories that my classmates remember. Some scenes are vivid as I think of them, and some are gone. I hardly remember any of the parents. Our personalities are in tact, from what I can detect on our Facebook page. We will go and physically be in the building where we went to elementary grades together. I think it will be amazing..our own versions of what we remember. I look forward to it with great anticipation.
As someone who also left Oakmont at the same time (though to a less far flung paradisiacal exile) this beautiful curiosity is as compelling a reason as I can imagine to return to the scene of the crime.
I too left Oakmont in 1963 to move to a less exotic place called St. Louis, MO. We left because my Dad took a new job there. My cousins, Greg, Cindy, and Pam Black all moved away in 1960 for the same reason, but we all when to school in Oakmont until we moved. I cried when we left because at 13 I thought my life was over and I would not meet anyone new who could be near as cool as the friends I left behind. Growing up in Oakmont was as you said a paradise for children and I would not trade that experience for anything. Before my father passed away almost three years ago now, he said to my brother Joe and me that he was so glad that we were able to grow up in a small close knit town. All I can say is, so am I Dad, so am I. I am terribly grateful to Nancy Grazier Link for finding me and getting me reconnected. She has been the glue that holds everyone together. I so wish I could go to reunion but unfortunately I can’t this year. My brother Joe went to his, as an honorary alumni, thanks to Nancy we both are, and he had a blast. Maybe the next time I can make it. I hope it won’t be too late to see everyone. Have fun at the reunion and I sure wish I could be there with everyone .
It feels so great to be found by the class, doesn’t it Tootie? A VIP status I truly appreciate. I have spoken on the phone to a few people and it is so fun. Taffey says she will be there (under her new assumed name). Peggy Jo has also been located. This stuff is at least as good as LSD..(or maybe it is residual LSD). I am stoked to go stay on 13th street and have a bike. I too hope you come next time, but for practical purposes we do not need to wait 10 years.