Tag Archives: Chaboneau

Questioning everything! #AtoZChallenge

Q is for Questioning everything! Seventeenth 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.

When I turned 13 in 1963, I was still coming off childhood and living in the moment without much introspection.

But as my early teens progressed, I started forming my own opinions — and pretty soon I was questioning everything!

Most of the time, my teen questions were aimed at the nonsensical edicts of adults — but soon enough, I was also critically assessing my peers who I disagreed with.

The suitcase conundrum

My maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence, who we called Boom, had some famous pronouncements that could always get me going. Enter the suitcase conundrum.

During my teens, I traveled alone to my grandparents’ house on the train or bus to spend a couple of weeks in the summer. And there were contradictory rules for these trips.

“Don’t talk to strangers,” Boom would admonish, “And don’t lift your suitcase on and off the overhead rack, ask someone to help you.” The obvious question: How do I ask someone to help me if I can’t talk to strangers? Sheesh! Anyway, it was the sixties — I could lift my own suitcase.

Challenging adults

By the time I was 14, my diary started containing confrontations here and there with adults as I gained my teen footing — like this three-day run  in April 1964.

April 8, 1964. I can’t talk on the telephone for a week cause I asked Dad if he could be more quiet.[We had one phone located in our dining room.]

April 9, 1964. Miss T. yelled at us, so I go, “Who does she think she is?” Then she said, “I know who I am, do you know who you are?” Now she’s all mad. What’ll I do?

April 10, 1964. Mr. S. said if he catches Kath or I in the A.V. room he’ll move our lockers! [I had a crush on an A.V. guy at the time.]

Mixed parties and thwarted double dates

Meanwhile, as my teen girlfriends started having house parties and inviting boys, my parents were stuck in 1950s-World.  A Junior Prom-style date was the only type they would approve of — all carefully chaperoned with a parent driving us to and from. I was not happy.

Jan. 20, 1964. Jackie’s having a mixed party [boys and girls] and I can’t go! Feb. 9, 1964. Terry said they played spin the bottle [a kissing game] at Jackie’s party!

By the time I was 15, my friends had moved on to dating and going steady, but my folks (who had not dated until college) still wouldn’t relent.

Hence this sad diary entry in my now larger journal — since I’d outgrown my childhood one.

Dec. 23, 1965. Last night I was going to double date with a friend of mine. I made sure my parents knew all parties involved so they couldn’t possibly object. I might’ve known they’d find something to object to no matter how careful I was. [In this case, the boy was older than me.]

Questioning classmates

Meanwhile, at school, I was beginning to have my own, strong ideas about literature, art, history — you name it.

The last straw in English was a classmate who criticized one of my favorite books — Catcher In the Rye.

Oct. 1, 1965. [She] is the epitome of pessimism. She lacks insight and perception of beauty and purpose…[and] has made numerous derogatory comments about, “Catcher in the Rye.” I never cease to be amazed at the amount of sordid information she manages to dig out of that perfectly harmless book.

Thus, bit by bit, I started questioning everything and everyone during my early teen years — my grandparents, my teachers, my parents, my classmates — unaware at the time that each pointed query was another step on the path to forming my own, personal outlook.

Up next, R is for Rock and Roll DJs. 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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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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