On November 30, 2022

Dating through the years

By Mary Ellen Shaw

I was watching a talk show recently and one of the topics discussed was an article from a 1950 McCall’s magazine. It gave 129 options that women could use to get a date. If you are in the “senior age category” you would be quite amused at some of the techniques that were recommended. Dating was certainly different “back in the day.” For one thing you had to actually talk to the person you were asking out. There was no texting or emailing. If the guy got “shot down” he was refused verbally — and often face to face.

Hearing about old-school dating prompted me to take a look back at how one went about getting a date in the ‘50s and ‘60s, which was the time period for my age group to start being a part of the dating scene.

My first “date” was a 7th grade dance at Christ the King School. At the end of a school day a boy in my class asked me to go with him. I told him that I would have to check with my parents and would let him know the next day. I got permission but was told that my father would pick up the boy before the dance and would bring him home after. My cousin was also asked to the dance. Since she reads the Mountain Times I suspect that she would prefer to not see her name in print in the paragraph below. Thus, her identity will remain anonymous.

My father picked up my cousin and her “date” after getting my “date.” Apparently my cousin had a different idea than I did about the seating arrangement in the car. She didn’t want to sit in the back seat with her date so she and I sat in the front with my father and the boys sat in the back. That date was off to a romantic start!

After the dance everyone wanted to go to Seward’s for ice cream so my father had to drive the four us up there. I don’t remember if he went inside or waited in the car. I have a feeling it was the latter.

During our high school years, in the early ‘60s, very few boys had their license much less a car. That situation meant that the parent-chauffeur arrangement was still in effect. A date back then usually meant going to the movies and school dances or sporting events. If the boy you were dating had a car it was packed with other teens. There were no seatbelts back then so driving safely meant our lives could continue!

You would think that by my college days during the late ‘60s most guys would have a car. But very few college kids had cars “back in the day.” Getting a date when you attended an all girls’ Catholic college wasn’t exactly easy. Trinity College in Burlington was not co-ed back then and neither was St. Mike’s which was just down the road in Winooski. Both schools held dances and transported students back and forth between the two schools. If a guy didn’t dance with someone he found worthy of asking out then he often had to wait until the next dance was held to try again.

Setting up a date with a girl who lived in the Trinity dorms was no easy task. There were no cell phones back then and each floor in the dorms had one phone that was shared by 50 girls. When a guy called to speak to a girl the person who answered the phone hollered that name down the hallway and that person came out of her room to talk. It was a short conversation since 49 other girls were waiting to be called!

Fast forward to adult years … Being introduced through friends or meeting someone in a bar probably accounted for the two most popular ways to find a date. My late relative, Loyola, gets credit for introducing me to my future husband, Peter. She played matchmaker and asked both of us to stop by the Carriage Room to have a drink with her and her husband. This was a popular spot to go to after work. Loyola figured that after an hour or so of visiting, Peter could decide if he wanted to ask me on a date. He did and the rest is history!

We recently celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary so that first date was the beginning of many happy years.

I am partial to the old ways of getting a date. Today’s generation will most likely be praising the text and email method when they look back many years from now. What can possibly be next when it comes to methods of getting a date? I can’t even imagine!

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