Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dating and Parking

OK, CV fans—I have heard about Margaret V. and her short career as our English teacher over and over for the last two days, so I'm finally goaded into putting up this piece, which I wrote several years ago. A BIG warning to you all—the subject matter of this post concerns the erotic life of 16- to 18-year-olds in Cedar Vale, Kansas, in the mid 1950s. I have changed all the names to protect those who might be offended by reading about their activities of yesteryear. I can vouch only for my part in the following and my memory of what else happened. This piece is entirely from a male perspective. However, I wasn't out there alone. So, with this fair warning, read on if you care to.

When I was sixteen my world suddenly expanded, when I was licensed to drive a car. Before that time, I was dependent on my parents or older friends to get any place I couldn't walk. Over night, I could drive out into the country, or even to the next town, if my parents would loan me the car. At the same time, my relationship with girls changed drastically. I could date a girl and take her some place we couldn't reach on foot, and I could be alone with a girl, by driving her out in the country and parking on some deserted lane. In short, we were a part of those liberated generations of young people that had come about with the advent of the automobile and we were taking full advantage of it.

Dating and parking were generally different activities that I did with different girls. When I dated, I would ask a girl several days in advance, and was expected to pay for the entertainment and any refreshments. We would go to an event in some neighboring town, and I would bring her home and deliver her to her door, collecting the good night kiss as my reward. We were told that nice girls don't kiss on the first date, but in my experience, most did. After all, we had all known each other from early childhood, and had probably kissed on the school playground when we were in grade school.

Parking was a very different sort of activity. We would cruise around town in our cars, and link up with girls who were walking on the streets or cruising in their own cars. The expressed intent in such cruising was understood to be picking up members of the opposite sex for purposes of parking. The girls understood this as well as the guys, but would, of course, never admit it openly. My friend John and I were regular companions for many of these evening forays. We would see which of our parents would loan us the car and drop by and pick the other up to begin the hunt.

We were often successful, and considered ourselves real "ladies men". In our junior year of high school we had some real triumphs, when we were able to get a pair of senior girls to park with us fairly regularly. These two girls always traveled together, and we would leave one of our cars on main street and go together to one of the many parking places we all knew about.

I should explain about our various parking activities, which had names and were considered to be in a progressive order. We even spoke of getting to first base, second base, or hitting a home run! Of course, there was kissing, which was always the first activity. If kissing became deep and passionate, it was called necking. Passionate kissing was called French kissing, because we believed that those sensual foreigners must have invented it. The next level of activity was called petting, which came in two levels: light and heavy. Light petting consisted of feeling a girl's breasts and thighs through clothing, while heavy petting involved getting under the clothing to the real thing. We seldom actually removed any of our clothing during heavy petting, but hooks, snaps, buttons and zippers would be opened, and clothing loosened to allow access. Petting to orgasm was considered to be "going all the way", as was actual intercourse. As a popular song of the time slyly stated, “When somebody loves you, It’s no good unless she loves you. ALL THE WAY!”

We were both attracted, and scared to death, of sexual intercourse, because in those days before the pill, we had to rely on cheap condoms purchased out of machines in the men's rest room of some service station that had probably been carried in our wallets for months before use. We knew that better quality birth control was available at the drug stores, but we also knew that they wouldn't sell it to us.

The two senior girls, Maxine and Jane (names changed to protect the guilty,) would go with John and me only if senior boys weren't available. Their aim in parking was heavy petting, and they must have had some secret signal system that warned them when one couple was nearing orgasm, because they would suddenly get out of the car and walk some distance away for a few minutes. Those minutes seemed like hours to two boys who were left at the peak of passion to stew in their own juices. When the girls returned, they would be cool as cucumbers, and would trade partners, so we wouldn't try to start again where we had left off. They always feigned outrage at our previous misbehavior, but they would go with us again the next evening if older partners weren't available. If they had driven us to the parking spot, the girl in the front seat would suddenly start the car when we had reached the "danger zone" again, and the evening of parking would be over. If John or I had driven, the girls would insist that they had to be home by a certain hour and had to leave "right now". There was no romantic feeling amongst us at all. I would as often start the evening with Maxine as Jane, and would probably be with the other by the end the evening. It was pure sexual exploration, and I leave it for the reader to judge who might have been exploiting whom in those evenings of passion.

John and I actually preferred parking with younger girls, who might not be as easy to get to the level of heavy petting, but who were not as well organized as Maxine and Jane. With other girls there was the thrill of the unknown, and of pushing the limits of a less experienced girl, but with Maxine and Jane we quickly learned what the order of business would be, and it never varied.

Parking with other girls was a bit catch as catch can. The girls were out in pairs, as singles, and in larger groups. It was often hard to negotiate getting two girls in our car at the same time, and on more than one occasion, John or I would be taken home early so the other could park with the one girl we had been able to catch. This was the advantage of being the driver. The rider in the back seat had other advantages if we could find two girls. The back seat occupants could, of course, get a head start while the driver looked for an unoccupied parking place.

The cruising scene was not always limited to high school kids. I well remember the fall of my senior year, when a new first-year English teacher came to town. We were told later that she had had a strict religious upbringing and had gone to a fundamentalist Christian college with severe restrictions on her behavior. She had never experienced anything like the nighttime scene I have described above, and she was drawn into it like a moth to flame. I parked with her several times, as did at least one of my friends. It was early in the fall semester when she was fired by the board of education and had to leave town, her teaching career ruined. I have always felt some guilt at having been a part of her downfall; but if it hadn't been me, it would have been another boy.

Another "older woman" that cruised at night was the young wife of a local man. It seems that she had complications after the birth of their child, and had had a hysterectomy. The freedom this gave her in the sexual area must have overwhelmed her, and she "went wild". She would cruise the streets alone, and if you wanted to park with her, you would begin to follow her car. She would lead you to the city park, where you were to stop the car and turn off the lights. In a few minutes, if the coast was clear, she would return and pick you up. I was told that parking with her was never more than a twenty-minute affair. Her intent was to have intercourse as quickly as possible and return home before her husband suspected. I was tempted to go with her, and on at least one occasion followed her to the city park, but I never stopped the car and waited to be picked up. As desirable as an easy lay with an "older woman" would have been, I simply couldn't be a part of such a sordid business. Her husband was one of my father's friends, and I had heard him talk about her poor husband, who was stuck home baby sitting while his "slut of a wife was out looking for men". Little did he know that some of the "men" she found were my classmates. I now realize that this "older woman" was only three or four years older than me, and she was not more than a year or two beyond the high school cruising scene herself.

All this nightlife seemed quite "wild" and "out-of-bounds" to us. Now I realize that it was just a game, with rules as strict as those of any sport. Our slang expressions: "getting to first base", "scoring", and "hitting a home run" were much more apt than any of us realized at the time. Parking was, simply, the only coeducational sport played at Cedar Vale High School, and a valid Kansas driver's license was your ticket of eligibility.


Phil Foust said...


Gary White said...

Glad you think so, Phil. We rather thought of it as "badness" at the time!

wayne woodruff said...

Shame on you. It was nasty boys like you that got poor little Miss Voss fired. Who taught English after she was removed from the class???

Gary White said...

I'm not sure, but I do know that Mrs. Lincoln Robinson directed our senior class play-Arsenic and Old Lace. Jim just emailed me on Monday about that event.

Dick Williams said...

You have completely destroyed my image of you.

We also used to cruise the streets trolling for girls, but most of the time we just met friends and laughed and talked with no sex or foreplay involved. I know that I was shy, naive and insecure, but we still enjoyed ourselves.

I always thought that you were a good musician, trumpet player and fairly intelligent person, not a ladies man, but we haven't talked or seen each other for over fifty years, so who's to know.

Gary White said...

Sorry to shatter your image. However, images and realities are seldom totally in sync.

As for your experiences "trolling for girls," bear in mind that they were "trolling for us" as much as we for them. In that situation, both are bound to be successful occasionally. I was just reporting the situation as I saw it.

Diane Archer Bradbury said...

Diane Bradbury said...

Phil - I can't help quoting Mae West: "Goodness had nothing to do with it."

Is this a work of fact, fiction or wishful thinking? Just curious.

Gary White said...


Gary White said...

OK, Diane, you deserve more than that!

Did Margaret Voss get fired for parking with high school boys? Yes.

Was I one of them? Yes, but not the only one.

Was there a young wife who cruised the streets at night picking up men? Yes.

Did "John" and I park with two senior girls who pulled a switcheroo on us? Yes.

How many times? I don't know, but more than once.

The general statements about the gamesmanship I added when I wrote the piece because I thought I saw what was actually going on.

Does fiction and wishful thinking come into the piece? I'm sure that I was viewing it from the perspective of a 50-some-year-old person and there was some elements of both involved. My memories are all colored by the passage of time, aren't yours?

How often were we actually successful in parking with a girl? Probably not as often as I remember and certainly not as often as we would have liked.

That is the truth as far as I can tell it. Thanks for asking.

Gary Metcalf said...

Aaah....the confessions of a college professor

Nancy Goode Schmid said...

I really am shocked as I did not know any of this. Its hard to believe that in a small town like CV this activity should have been known by everyone. After all anything you did was repeated all over town before you could get home. I remember Mae Robinson directed our play but did not know any of the reasons. The only thing I remember about Miss Voss was the strategic place she always pinned her sorority pin.

wayne woodruff said...

Nancy, I imagine Floyd would have not allowed any of his daughters to participate in the activities that Gary describes. He did not strike me as someone who would tolerate that behavior.