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Thursday, 05 November 2009

Looking Backwards

By Johna Ferguson

How many of you remember way back when, in the 40s when boyfriends gave their girlfriends one of their pins to wear. Maybe it was in high school and they gave her their HiY pin or perhaps they even belonged to a high school fraternity, popular then in my city, and gave her that pin to wear on her sweater or blouse so everyone could see it.

If not in high school, then certainly in college when the boys pinned you with their fraternity pin. Oh, what joy and bliss to know you belonged to someone and only that someone who wanted you.

During my college days, I had several times been pinned but always gave them back to the owner when we broke up. I still have my own sorority pin on my gold charm bracelet. I suppose I should give it back before I die but then, I bought it so I consider it mine.

If all went well, then the pinned couple would go on to get engaged and then finally married. Among my college sorority friends, sad to say, about a third of them are divorced, some early on, others later after years of marriage.

But the disadvantage of being pinned meant you couldn’t date others. College was a time to stretch yourself; meet all kinds of new people and learn to interact with them in various situations. Being pinned tied you to just one group of people, and they were pretty much the same type.

They were usually from middle or professional class families, mostly college educated themselves. But fraternities and sororities are just a very small part of a university campus; there were lots of students living in dorms or with their own families who do not belong to that clique and had no desire to either.

They sat next to you in class, worked on committees you worked on, or just rubbed elbows in the cafeterias or libraries. Their lives were so varied it was a shame not to get acquainted with them. I wish I had spread my wings more in those days for I am sure I missed out on a lot, but I was rather shy when it came to meeting strangers.

I do remember my one lab partner in zoology. He was from parents born in Russia and he was really interested in science. We had to dissect a frog and define all the muscles and bones. It was enough to make me sick, but he kindly helped me through the course, but that was all. We never talked about anything else, yet I am sure he was full of stories he could tell me about his Russian parents and some of their customs. It was a missed chance, one I still regret.

Actually as I look back on those college days, I regret I didn’t go out of my way and become acquainted with people from different cultures. I went on to major in sociology and all that background information would have served me well after graduation in my various jobs.

I hope you all took better advantage of your time in college and absorbed more than just having a good time, getting good grades, finding a husband and finally earning your degree.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I enjoy reading your thoughts about different cultures. The town where I was raised in the Mid West was pretty much plain vanilla, not a cultural melting pot. There was not opportunity to learn firsthand from people of other cultures. But, I have made up for it in recent years. I married a Russian man raised in Poland and we live in a community of diversity. Many of our friends are European and I have been blessed to learn
and certainly enrich my life from their experiences as shared with me.
I'd like to add that I do believe your own life sounds full with some delightful memories.

I remember those days well because I was one of the girls who were left out. It was devastating and I really don't think I missed any opportunities by not getting pinned. While it's true that the fraternity and sorority members ran with the same clique, so did we. It's the way society was then and, I suspect, still is.

Johna - Nice, thought provoking piece.

I make it a point not to 'Look Backwards' with any degree of remorse. My immature, ill-spent youth was characterized by avoiding meaningful relationships, school books, and responsibility. Somewhere along the line I grew up (probably in the service.) I have no regrets. besides the past can't be changed. It's a 'done deal'. If I thought too much about the past, I'd probably require a strong Valium prescription!

I prefer to direct my attention to the only thing I have any chance of controlling - Today. Some wise person once pointed out, today is the first day of the rest of my life! - Sandy

Good memories, mixed with a few regrets. But, you know, at that age most people are so self-absorbed and self-righteous, they can't get beyond the small group to which they belong, all of whom are carbon copies of themselves and where there is "safety". The ability to reach out of one's comfort zone and include others who may be "different" comes with maturity. And sometimes never!

I did my first 4 years of college with a husband and two kids. The kids went to school, I went to school where I also worked, and after school, I went to work. I also brought in a pittance from the GI Bill. Yes, I made a wide variety of friends from all walks of life....in the art department. My non art grades were not good.

The second time around, I only had one husband at home, was doggedly in pursuit of good grades, made few friends, and worked my tail off as a custodian to pay part of my way through.

I graduated with honors at fifty, but it took years to pay off those student loans. Terrible of me. No friends at all made the second time around. Shame on me.

This is a great entry. Thank you.

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