Rosedale in the 50's.

A childhood by the numbers.

If I had to select one adjective to describe my childhood in Rosedale during the 50's, it would be "well-defined." Geographically, it was delineated by Burnet Road, Hancock, 40th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard. In terms of family units, by everyone having two biological parents in place. In 85% of the cases, the father worked and the mother stayed home and took care of the home and kids. The nation? Good grief, we'd just conquered the Hun and the Sun. We were the kings and queens of the world with a manifest destiny that was now extended to the rest of the earth. And that optimism certainly imparted itself to the children at Rosedale School. When I see the cultural upheaval of the nineties, I think back to the quiescent state of Rosedale in the fifties with a certain degree of longing. Like the England of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, when there is a homogeneity within a class group and no striving to climb anywhere else, then the lack of friction makes for a pretty peaceful existence. Somehow, many of us knew that we would go to college and put together decent careers, but those futures were so far down the line that we weren't stressed by them. I suppose that we sensed there were some rich kids going to a school called Highland Park, but that really never concerned me.

Later, when we were all consolidated with them at Lamar Junior High, I started getting a feel for the social category thing; but I can't say that it ever bothered me. In fact, I was kind of amused by the pretensions of some of the fat cats' offspring. The only time I can even think of there being any overt downward negativity in junior high was one time when I was playing in a basketball game with some other kids and somehow the fact my dad was a carpenter came up. A guy whose father was a dean of a major college at UT said something to me indicating that I must mean my dad was just a play-like carpenter around the house on the weekends. (After all, I was as smart as he was--my parents must be in his parents' income group, right?) No, I said, he does that for a living. He gave me this shocked look and said "Gee--where do you live?" Honestly, it took me a couple of days to absorb the full implications of what he was saying. Can't say that it really bothered me, but I never had much more use for that jerk.

Anyway, back to Rosedale Elementary School, where the chain of command was about as firmly demarked as you could imagine. Mrs. White held sway and the teachers brooked little insolence whatsoever. Talking out of turn or being in the hall without good reason were about as horrendous a pair of crimes as any of us could imagine.

When I hear about the drugs and guns being confiscated in schools today, I'm floored. Sex? Are you kidding? Give me a break. Some of us were having lustful thoughts by the fifth or sixth grade, but acting on them? Not a chance. Things I remember about school? Gee. That could fill a volume or two. Funny, most of the things that stick out in your mind have to do with social interaction rather than any particular lesson. For some reason, the other day I was thinking about an incident that happened when I was in the fourth grade. It revolved around one of those school events that the teachers put together for the kids, to inculcate some skills in performing for a crowd. As things turned out, two of the boys who were supposed to be in the folk dance part of the show got sick or whatever and didn't make it. Anyway, there were a couple of guys who had been trained as alternates, but they didn't come around to our room where we were waiting, so two of the girls didn't get to dance. Of course, they started crying and there was a major to-do in the aftermath. Needless to say, the boys got blamed for not taking action to locate the problem. It seemed to me at the time that one of the teachers could have done a little moving around and brought the boys to the right place. But when I became an adult and had to stomach a juicy helping of corporate life, I realized that I had seen the phenomenon known as blame-shifting at work, transferring the greasy stuff right on downhill. Still works that way, all right. (That's why I run a one-man business.)

Were there any downsides to the Rosedale of my childhood? If I had to isolate anything, it would be that it gave me way too high a set of expectations about the way society should work. Frankly, I credit my upbringing in this wholesome universe for a large part of the success I've had. But nothing in my experience in Rosedale prepared me for the business world where skill in telling lies is seen as a gift, rather than a fault. Then again, some enormously positive things have happened that I applaud, such as women taking their rightful places in the professional workforce. Oh well, I am what I am. Kind of like it that way. Thanks, Rosedale.

Now, here are some memories of restaurants gone by. . .