Peg: My mulitasking mom #AtoZChallenge

P is for Peg: My mulitasking mom. Sixteenth 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.

My mom Peg was also career building during my early teens (1963-65) — but unlike Dad, she had other pulls on her time.

So Mom developed her School Music Educator career more slowly — while also meeting the demands of motherhood, an active social life and volunteer work at our church and a local hospital.

Our family circa 1964. That’s me,14, standing behind Mom,38, with the rest of our large family. Somehow my multitasking Mom managed to skillfully balance motherhood, work, fun and volunteering in a way I did not fully appreciate in my early teens. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Mother of five: from teen to toddlers

At home, Peg was a no-nonsense mother. Caught up as I was in my early teen world, I sometimes bristled under her demands to keep my grades up and to generally behave myself at school and on the block (enforced by occasional groundings).

But looking back, I am now amazed at all that she accomplished while simultaneously raising five children — who in the early 1960s ranged from a teen to toddlers, as shown above.

Back to teaching

Once my brothers and I were in school, Mom commuted to Ithaca College at night for her masters in Music Education — and also substitute taught in the Endwell public schools.

Sheet music, metronome and a flute-like recorder. There was always a metronome ticking away at our house to keep time for our music lessons. Mom coupled motherhood with building her career, getting her permanent music teacher certificate in 1964 and returning to teaching when my sisters were still little. The flute-like recorder was one of Mom’s favorite instruments, which she continued playing until well into her senior years. Photo: Pixabay

After Mom finished grad school, my sisters were born and she was back to homemaking again full-time. Nevertheless, she made sure to get her permanent music teacher license, which was awarded in 1964. And while my sisters were still little, she resumed teaching in the local parochial schools.

Life of the party

Yet it was not all work for Mom — who was then in her late 30s. At a Malverne Road reunion a couple of years ago, our across-the-street neighbor told me an entertaining story about what Mom and the other mothers got up to during their weekdays at home.

Moms cocktail hour. At a recent block reunion, a neighbor told me, “Peg called around and said she had seen a recipe for a new cocktail and wouldn’t we like to try it?” The moms had such a good time they secretly repeated their cocktail hour on occasion. And here I thought it was only the kids on our block who were sneaking around to have fun! Graphic: Pixabay

“Peg called around and said she had seen a recipe for a new cocktail and wouldn’t we like to try it?” she told me. “So after our husbands left for work and the children were in school, Peg had us all over one afternoon and we had a great time with that new cocktail!”

Such a good time, in fact, that they secretly repeated their cocktail hour on occasion. “And we made sure to clean up and get back home before our husbands and children returned,” emphasized the neighbor.

Well, well. And I always thought it was only us kids on the block sneaking around to have some fun!

Volunteer work

Peg (Laurence) Charboneau (c. 1964). School photo of Mom during her Endwell teaching years. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Yet even with teaching and raising a family, Mom also found time for volunteer work.

For years, she used her music skills to lead the choir at Endwell’s Christ the King RC Church — and thus expanded her social life.

I  still remember the friendships Mom made with couples from church who came over to play board games with her and Dad — laughing and carrying on and keeping us kids awake until all hours!

Mom also served as a Pink Lady hospital volunteer one night a week — and she had to stand up to Dad to do it, because he thought she should be getting paid.

Multitasking Mom

In short, during my early teens my mom Peg was multitasking long before the word was invented — and doing it in a balanced way. A bit of homemaking, a bit of work, a bit of fun, then giving back with some volunteering — yet all the while incrementally building the School Music Educator career she would eventually return to full time.

Up next, Q is for Questioning everything. 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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Orange juice can curlers and On-the-roof suntans #AtoZChallenge

O is for Orange juice can curlers and On-the-roof suntans. Fifteenth 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 my early teens in 1963-65, the favored hairstyle was straight, shoulder-length hair with a flip at the bottom — sometimes teased at the top for what today’s stylists call “elevation.”

Alas, my curly brown hair had plenty of elevation — especially when it was rainy or humid. The trick was trying to flatten my hair and straighten my curls out.

One sure-fire method was to set my hair using orange juice can curlers. The Hair Do magazine cover below gives you a relatively fancy idea of how this worked.

Hair Do magazine cover from the 1960s. Image: Pinterest

Air dried coiffure

In my early teens, large curlers, blow dryers and myriad hair products were not yet commercially available. So we curly-haired girls turned to DIY solutions — stockpiling frozen orange juice cans until we had enough to cover our heads.

Most of the teen girls on my block, and even some of the moms, set their hair this way — then wrapped a light chiffon scarf over the top so their coiffure could air dry. Thus it was normal on our street to see females at work and play with a head full of curlers.

Frozen orange juice cans made excellent hair curlers during my early teens (1963-65). Photo: Molly Charboneau

I became adept at using the orange juice can curlers in my early teens — but when I couldn’t air dry in the daytime, I’d have to sleep overnight with them in. Ouch!

The only way to do it was to hang your head off the bed — which made for a challenging night’s sleep. Fortunately, chemical hair straightener kits came out in my later teens and I was able to give up the OJ curlers for good.

Getting an early tan

Another beauty challenge for teen girls in the early 1960s was having a good tan over the summer. There were no sunscreen creams back then. In fact nobody was aware of the damage the sun’s rays could do to fair skin — and being fair, I usually burned my first time or two in the summer sun.

On the roof suntanning (c. 1964). That’s me on the left, at age 14, my hair freshly out of orange juice can curlers, getting a rooftop tan up on our screened porch with my friend from up the street. Photo: Norm Charboneau

My teenage girlfriends and I exchanged tips about this tanning/burning problem, and the accepted solution was to start your tan as early as possible and build it up gradually.

So some time after Easter — when it was often still cold out with frosty nights — I’d lay a blanket down in our back yard at high noon, put on my bathing suit, and start working on my tan. Brrrr!

On-the-roof tanning

Eventually, this gave way to a new and improved procedure: I’d climb onto the roof of our porch (the same one where I read Edgar Allen Poe) and start my tan up there, where the dark roofing was a bit warmer.

Sometimes my girlfriend from up the street would join me. And there, on high — with our hair carefully set and clad in our modest two-piece bathing suits — we’d start our on-the-roof suntans to be ready for the summer.

Up next, P is for Peg: My mulitasking mom. 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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Norm: My career-building dad #AtoZChallenge

N is for Norm: My career-building dad. Fourteenth 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.

From 1963-65, while I was engaged in early teen activities in Endwell, N.Y., my forty-something dad Norm was busy career building at General Electric in nearby Westover, N.Y.

Dad’s job was a short trip from our house, on the way to Johnson City — and he bought a little Fiat 500 for his commute to the plant so my mom could have the big car to shop, shuttle us kids around, drive to grad school in Ithaca and eventually to her own job at a parochial school.

Dad’s General Electric career

In general, my family members did their own thing by day — then we met up around the family dinner table at night to report on our activities.

That’s where we got used to hearing about Dad’s job at GE — along with his primary task, Quality Control (known as “QC” at our house) — as he focused on climbing the corporate ladder.

“Mad Men” electronics version (c. 1964). My dad Norm is at the back of the table, the last man on the left in glasses and a dark suit. He’s pictured here at a General Electric training session with colleagues in their requisite suits, white shirts and pencil ties. Scan by Molly Charboneau

But except for our dinnertime chats and our family’s annual restaurant trip to celebrate Dad’s raise, his work life seemed remote from my day-to-day early teen concerns.

Dad’s family life

Yet Dad was concerned with his children’s lives — and I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of news reports on his role in the Endwell Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

The clip at left is from 1963 when I was 13. About halfway down, it lists my parents as “advisors” to the Hooper School PTA — and the last line says Dad served as Scout Liaison.

My younger brothers were Boy Scout age then — and I was still in Girl Scouts in 1963.

An earlier clip from 1961 says Dad was program chair for a panel on “Your Child’s Future: Must Everyone Go to College?”  — a question Dad would answer with a resounding “yes,” as he and Mom wanted that for all of us kids.

Dad on the weekend

On weekends, Dad focused on household tasks and family time.

And on June 10, 1961, about four years after we moved to Endwell, N.Y., Dad paid $850 for our lot on Page Lake — where we spent most Saturdays in the summer during my early teens.

I’ve written about feeling trapped there as my teens progressed because I missed my friends and busy life back home.

My family at Page Lake, New Milford, PA in the early 1960s. That’s me on the dock and my mom and brothers on the rock. Photo by Norm Charboneau

Yet I now feel fortunate to have had that “away” time at camp in my early teens, where I learned to appreciate nature and solitude — which I’m sure is what Dad had in mind when he purchased the land all those years ago.

Up next, O is for Orange juice can curlers and On-the-roof suntans. 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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Growing family trees one leaf at a time