The teenage boys in Bonham used to talk about which girl’s Daddy was scarier. We also took bets which daddies had been the wildest boys. Payback was hell when God had given them daughters.
Mama Lion had daughters that were not prim and proper. If the truth be told, they were party girls but quietly, so as not to incur the wrath of Mama Lion and Papa Bear and spend a year locked in the house. The problem in Bonham was older boys usually dated younger girls, because the girls their age were interested in more mature older boys. The guys that worked after school instead of being in extracurricular activities all had hot cars or motorcycles, so they never had an issue finding a girl who wanted to go out with a bad boy. Geeks like me, who drove old cars, were nice enough to talk to, but, God knows, we couldn’t compete with the bad boys or the cool guys. I was known as a good listener for years, maybe I could even get a sympathetic dance now and again, but boyfriend? Go steady? Please, no!
As I was saying, the problem with older boys dating younger girls showed up when the boys graduated. Now, your sweet daughter could get into real trouble, because that boy might have his own place within driving distance on a Saturday date night. With it being now 1970, there were reports about widespread local drug use, which was true. At the Dairy Queen on the main drag, you could buy marijuana or pills with allowance money. Car dating was bad enough, but, if that older boy had his own place and was exposing your girl to alcohol or drugs? One Dad was heard to answer when asked what he would do if a daughter got pregnant: “I guess we would love the little bastard.”
So, if your girl was dating an older boy who had graduated and gone off to college, especially within driving distance of home, parents said no more of that. Well, what were the young lovebirds to do? They were in love. Eventually, they were going to get married. So, they would sneak around. The girl would go up to some nice guy and ask him if he would do her a favor. Would he pick her up? Make nice with the parents and say they were going to the movies in the next town? High school boys had short hair, and a nice guy would never, ever be anything but a gentleman. So, Mama Lion and Papa Bear’s oldest went out with that nice boy, who would take her to meet the bad boy, and he would stay out of sight for the evening until time to get her home before curfew. What kind of nice guy would acquiesce? I read about it once.
I don’t know if Mama Lion ever caught on. Papa Bear was suspicious of any boy regardless of how nice he seemed. Again, had he starred in that movie twenty years earlier? Their oldest quietly carried on for some time until, well, she suddenly wanted more. Last I heard, she had done well for herself living in a major metropolitan area. I think she married, divorced, and never had kids. The bad boy stayed away for a few years, but so many small town kids never leave, or they come home to where they always felt safe.
The 50s are often looked upon nostalgically as a simpler time when Ike was president, and all was well in our land. But the roots of all that has come to pass are back then when Hugh Hefner created Playboy Magazine, Kinsey wrote his famous report on sex in America, and car dating changed how girls and boys were able to leave courtship behind for the passion pit at the local drive-in movie. And it was still the era of segregation and of cultural Christianity where everyone needed to belong to a church with or without faith.
Other cultures look aghast at what we allow today. Mama Lion and Papa Bear were not bad people. They loved their daughters and wanted what was best for them. They could have been much stricter.
Thank you, Father, for all the Mamas who only want the best for their girls. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Put twenty-two pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box to feed the poor (Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard).
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.