Category Archives: A to Z Challenge 2021

Boys, Braces and Babysitting #AtoZChallenge

B is for Boys, Braces and Babysitting. Second of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

A sure sign that adolescence was upon me was an endless stream of boys and crushes that began to populate my diary. My age-12 entries were infrequent, mostly in pencil and often about family events or vacations.

But when  I turned 13 all that changed. I began writing in pen every day in bolder cursive — and the main subject was boys.

https://pixabay.com/photos/people-retro-male-man-men-boy-4086431/
Retro footwear on teen boys. When I turned 13 in 1963, I wrote in my diary daily in bold cursive  — and the main subject was boys. Photo: Pixabay

Who I had a crush on, who my friends liked and the seemingly endless list of places where we could and did run into boys — at school, at skating parties and dances, at ice cream socials, at our lakeside camp, at sports events, when they came down to our block and even at church!

None of these literary meanderings resulted in an actual boyfriend — I was still too young for that in my early teens. But I began taking a new look at my male Maine Endwell Junior High classmates who were once mere school chums at Hooper School elementary.

Braces

My first school photo with braces (c. 1963). No toothy grins for me! Those would have to wait  until the braces came off in my late teens. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Alas, my romantic musings were thwarted by the need for braces to correct wayward teeth — which meant getting a metal grill that glinted brightly when I smiled and required periodic orthodontist adjustments.

At first I was excited about getting braces. Lots of my girlfriends at school were getting them, too, so it seemed like the in thing.

But as my teen years progressed, the braces became an impediment to socializing with (you guessed it) boys — and I longed to get them removed. While I waited, I adopted a discrete smile for my annual school photos, as shown above.

Babysitting bonanza

Another major development in my early teens was getting my first babysitting jobs. No longer would I have to subsist on my meager 50-cents-a-week allowance (later raised to $1.00 after my siblings and I protested). Now I was paid by the hour — a veritable bonanza — and fervently hoped the adults would stay out late so I could accrue overtime.

Babysitting. Another major development in my early teens was my first babysitting jobs. No longer would I have to subsist on my meager weekly allowance. Now I was being paid by the hour — and  hoped the adults would stay out late so I could accrue overtime. Photo: Pixabay

In my early teens I mainly babysat on our street, where help from my parents was just a phone call away. Most families were large, so there was plenty of work — and it was much like a payroll job.

I’d get an orientation from the parents. “Bedtime is 8:30 pm. They can watch TV until then. There are games in the cupboard. Here’s where to reach us if needed,” they’d explain. Then, the magic words, “Help yourself to anything in the kitchen.”

I even became privy to mini-scandals, like which dads read Playboy or which moms read sexy novels — details we babysitters whispered about among ourselves during off hours!

But best of all was the influx of cash — badly needed in my early teens to purchase records by my favorite pop and rock stars at Woody’s Record Shop in nearby Endicott (more on this in Letter D).

Up next: Confirmation and finessing the Pledge. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Adolescence begins: Endwell through a teen lens #AtoZChallenge

A is for Adolescence begins. First of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

During #AtoZChallenge 2020, I blogged about Endwell: My Elementary Years — touring around my second childhood hometown near Binghamton, N.Y., and reminiscing about childhood experiences from ages 7-12 on my street, at school and during visits to relatives.

The hubbub of Baby Boom children on my suburban Endwell street contrasted to my earlier childhood at Whispering Chimneys, my family’s Altamont, N.Y., farm, which I wrote about in #AtoZChallenge 2017 — and more contrasts emerged as I entered my early teens.

Endwell through a teen lens

By 1963, when I turned 13, my Endwell address was the same — but my point of view began to gradually change as I inched toward young adulthood over the next couple of years.

For one thing, I began to draw a sharper distinction between my life in the neighborhood, my life at school and my life when visiting my maternal grandparents, who still lived on the farm.

On my block, I started to leave behind group activities like kickball games, pre- Halloween mayhem and summer camp at the elementary school in favor of hanging out one-on-one or in smaller groups with girls close to my age.

My family all dressed up for Easter (1964). At 14, I was all decked out in my white hat and gloves. Within a few years, I was tie-dying psychedelic t-shirts on the kitchen stove. In front from left, my brother Jeff, sister Amy and brother Mark. In back from left, Gramps (my maternal grandfather Tony Laurence), me, my dad Norm Charboneau and Boom (my ever-fashionable maternal grandmother Liz Stoutner Laurence). Behind us is my Endwell, N.Y., neighborhood. Photo: Peg (Laurence) Charboneau

Because I was the block’s only public-school student in my grade (one other girl went to parochial school), I had a completely different set of friends when I arrived at the Junior High school. There, we Hooper School students merged with those who went to Homer Brink (the other elementary school across town) — and a whole new mix and match of friendships developed.

My early teen universe

At home, my brothers and sisters were younger and moved in their own circle of friends — so the “Molly, the boys, and the girls” demarcation became more pronounced. Meanwhile, my parents seemed stuck in the 1950s as the freer 1960s dawned.

Then there were visits to my maternal grandparents — known to us a Boom and Gramps — where I connected with my early childhood friends from Altamont, who were now teens like me. That became my “away” world — kept alive with letters between visits in those days of costly “toll calls” and no Internet.

In short, I learned to blend my various worlds into a sort of early teen universe as the 1960s unfolded  — learning and growing from each environment I traveled in.

Up next: B is for Boys, Braces and Babysitting. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal – Endwell: My Early Teen Years

When the annual A to Z Challenge begins on April 1, 2021, Molly’s Canopy will participate for the fourth time in the month-long blogging marathon. My theme this year is Endwell: My Early Teen Years — where my genealogy journey germinated.

In 2017, I blogged about Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont Childhood, where my genealogy journey began in our Albany County farmhouse — sharing stories about my earliest sense of family and relatives.

In 2020, during the Coronavirus quarantine, I returned to my childhood in Endwell: My Elementary Years to explore how my interest in family, ancestors and heritage germinated once my family moved to the suburbs circa 1957.

In 2021, I am going back again to explore my early teen years in Endwell — rolling out the next chapter of my own story from A to Z at one letter per day (minus a few Sundays) throughout April.

  • My inspiration: Genealogy bloggers who wrote about their own lives during previous challenges.
  • The rationale: We spend so much time searching for our ancestors and telling their stories that we forget to tell our own. As family historians we owe it to posterity to include ourselves in the mix.
  • The urgency: Not as great as last year with vaccines now in play. Yet there are still those COVID-19 coronavirus variants to worry about — so there is no time to waste in getting these stories out there.

Leaving an ancestral diary

Have you ever wished your ancestors had left letters or a diary — some tangible record in their own voice? I know I have, and I don’t want to be guilty of the same omission. So I intend to tell the next part of my own story during this year’s #AtoZChallenge.

My plan is to blog about my early teens in Endwell, N.Y., the Broome County suburb where I grew up with my parents, two younger brothers and two younger sisters. Along the way, I’ll examine how my heritage quest intersected with my early teen years.

  • Time: The late early to mid 1960s.
  • Setting: A small upstate New York suburban community.
  • Backdrop:  Malverne Road, a dead end street one block from the Susquehanna River and packed with more than 50 children during the Baby Boom years.
  • Players: Me; my immediate and extended family; some of my ancestors and relatives; neighbors, friends, classmates and visitors.

Please take a seat and get comfortable. On April 1 the curtain rises on Endwell: My Early Teen Years.  See you then!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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