10 Things About Cheerleaders That Worried Me from 1967 through 1972
A girl who doesn't win a place on the cheer squad harbors resentment
So long, sixth-grade
My last day of sixth-grade was on (a) Friday toward the middle of May, 1966. Part of me was bursting with ecstatic thoughts about the lazy summer ahead. Part of me was excited about going into junior high in August and another part of me wanted to cry because my teacher, the now-late, Mrs. Lena Dozier, was retiring. She had had enough teaching and kids like me to do her the rest of her life.
Her final few moments with us were, now that I look back, life-altering and if I had just stopped yearning for the final bell to clang so we could board our respective busses, I might have learned at least one “diamond” of wisdom that might have helped me with the changes that lie ahead for me and my classmates in the Class of 1972.
But I didn’t wait. As the bell rang, I flew from my imitation-wood desk and as I was flying out of the classroom door, I picked up something Mrs. Dozier said, “Next year, everything will be different. Your being in one classroom all day long is over. You will have to adjust to new things and I wish you my best.” Isn’t it amazing how much a 12-year-old’s ears can hear even when they are moving in a flash of light?
Why to (some) cheerleaders have that "plastic" smile?
Drum majorettes in my day were friendly, warm and caring
1950's Cheerleader--what a lovely smile
Junior high: Changes and exploration
Mrs. Dozier’s advice ran through my mind at least a couple of times as I sat in silence on my school bus. I mean by ‘sitting in silence,’ that I wasn’t yakking 90 MPH to what few friends I had on the bus. Instead my mind was dwelling on what Mrs. Dozier meant by that part of her admonishment, “You will have to adjust to new things,” and what puzzled me was she never offered any advice on “how” I was to adjust to a new world in junior high. I suppose trying to talk to a herd of wild kids is tough and Mrs. Dozier chose to not waste her time or breath.
Skipping ahead to fall, 1966, there I was in seventh-grade. The “baby steps” of junior high. I felt like a man. Someone who had grown mentally and physically during my lazy summer vacation. Physically, yes. Mentally, well, that one I cannot tell you the truth if I grew or not.
Mrs. Dozier was right about all that I heard from her. Everything was new. The school building was new. The teachers, desks, even the things we never had in sixth-grade, lockers, changing classes, and best of all, those gorgeous cheerleaders, were all brand, spanking new. I was like a “bull in a candy store,” fumbling and mumbling my way each day—trying to get a foothold on how this system worked.
Now let me warn you. The rest of this story is not intended to be harsh, but honest, as told through a seventh-grader’s eyes, so do not be upset at my youthful and undisciplined statements about cheerleaders. Deal?
Cheerleaders in my day were always "kissing-up" to athletes, male students, teachers
"Look at me. I am a cheerleader."
Our cheerleaders never used a megaphone
Understanding females: A hard task for me
Take into consideration that in 1967, I did not know how to fully-appreciate females, much less the pretty cheerleaders who cheered for all of the sporting events. I was blown-away with these gals. Even for a seventh-grade guy, I was so hypnotized by how much skin they showed with their maroon skirts that came about two-inches above their knees—and those matching white sneakers and socks, well, I thought I would burn in Hell if I allowed myself to think of them as anything but cheerleaders.
I secretly-thought that these girls were driven to our school from some far-off place just to yell, jump and clap their hands as the students were absorbed by their loud instructions. But, man, how pretty they were from head to toe. Especially Patsy Skinner, Linda Wiginton, Debbie Page, the three older girls on the squad.
Now I wasn’t a “fool in the woods,” I knew about nature, some. My cousin, Donnie, rest his soul, and our mutual friend, “Oz,” had sneaked our share of free-looks at the men’s magazines that were in this timeframe, kept out in the magazine section of our local Foodway. These cheerleaders I named looked exactly like the girls we loved to look at in these taboo magazines. Why is it when we are young that things that are sinful feel the best?
But do not get crazy on me. The magazines then in 1967 were named Cherry Bomb, Stag and True Detective and tame compared to the latter “smug magazines” like Hustler, Penthouse and others. The scantily-clad girls in these magazines that had Donnie, “Oz,” and me hooked wore two-piece bathing suits, stockings and high heels and nothing sensual was ever shown.
The guy in this photo reminds me of myself in my day when I only wanted "a" cheerleader to talk to me, but they didn't know I was alive
She could act in the television show, "Nashville"
Honestly, How Did You Feel About Cheerleaders In Your Day?
"Show down" by cheerleader Patsy
Still, only adults were allowed to view or buy these fiery magazines, but the Foodland manager, a guy named, Buddy Rhinehart was too much in-love with making money to chase us out of his store. Buddy was a marketing genius. He felt that if he hurt our feelings, our mom’s would take their grocery business elsewhere, so he turned a “blind eye,” to our early appreciation for girls in bikinis.
What has all of my yakking have to do with how cheerleaders in my day worrying me? Plenty. If you are familiar with my works, you will not panic, for you know that before I get to the “meat” of my stories, I have to serve you the “salad” which is represented by the introductive paragraphs.
I remember the day of attending our first pep rally. My heart raced like a young Secretariat, the last Triple Crown Winner. We ran like a hungry pack of hyenas to the gym. It was like awakening in Heaven it was that new and exciting. Students of all grades at Hamilton High were talking, laughing, telling vulgar jokes (the seniors, I mean. I heard one or two on my way inside the gym), and our marching band had already taken their places.
Mrs. Dozier never explained to us the definition of a pep rally. We assumed that pep meant energy, but rally was a Greek word to us. Then, as if God Himself came to earth, the principal, the now-late, Joe L. Sargent, walked to the single microphone on the stage and did his best to sound tough and with authority, but sadly, he had an obvious stuttering problem that discredited his stern instructions for conduct at a pep rally.
Now, what does all of “this” have to do with cheerleaders worrying me? Hang on. You will see in a moment.
Remember Patsy Skinner, one of the older cheerleaders I mentioned awhile ago? Well as fate would have it, I was sitting next to her little brother, Rick, and he was quick to tell me that she was his sister. Good to know, I thought. It’s amazing how sharp a 13-year-old mind can be when everyone around him is yelling.
Now for the cheerleader worrying me connection. When the pep rally ended, the cheerleaders were milling about talking to the students, band, and anyone who cared to talk about our team, the Aggies.
My how the pom pons have shrank
All of our football games were about was watching our cheerleaders stretch and work-out
My first taste of real shame
It’s now or never, I thought (not the song by Elvis Presley) as Rick and I walked through the thick crowd to get back to our homeroom. My chance was here. Time to make points with that Patsy Skinner who resembled a brunette I had experienced lust for in one of those men’s magazines, and I was ready to grow from a boy to a man in a matter of minutes, not knowing that was not possible.
Quickly, like a spark of electricity escaping an outlet, Rick went left, I went right—to where Patsy happened to be standing and not talking to anyone. I had to do it. My chest was hurting. I knew I might die if I didn’t do what I had planned, so it went down like this:
Me: “Uhhh, hi, Patsy!”
Me: “Uhhh, you did a good jump today!”
Patsy: “What did you say?”
Me: “Uhhh, sorry. I said, you did a good jump today.”
Patsy: “Where did you learn that ugly word, ‘jump,’ and who are you?”
I was shaking and sweating trying to force a toothy-smile to hopefully keep Patsy from tearing into me and then I just tore out of the gym without saying another word.
At lunch, Rick was curious as to why my blue denim shirt was soaking-wet with sweat. I made up some lie and he started talking about his teacher, the now-late Sarah Ramsey, how tough she was on him and his classmates. We had three homeroom teachers. I should have told you in the beginning. They were Mrs. Lena Shotts, my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Sarah Ramsey, Rick’s home room teacher and the now-late Victoria Stokes, no one claimed that she was their home room teacher, but she had acquired a tough nick name: “The Dragon Lady,” for how extra-strict she was about keeping the rules.
During lunch, I kept my face from being seen by the other, older students. It was rough on my neck. I accidentally got some tomato soup on my already-wet blue denim shirt from being distracted by the run-in with Patsy. I secretly-swore to myself to avoid being seen with Rick just in-case Patsy should be strolling the hallway as cheerleaders do and then chew him out for associating with a seventh-grade pervert.
What a laborious-burden to place on the young shoulders of a seventh-grade boy, calling him a pervert simply because an 11th grade beauty who rules the cheering squad made him look foolish when he only wanted to talk to her for a moment. That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I do recall the one time that Patsy almost “made me,” as criminals say in television cop shows. It was at morning break at 9:50 a.m. time for students to use the restrooms, get some water, or buy snacks in the designated-area for snacks near the gym.
I was walking with Donnie and “Oz,” talking and not paying attention to where I was and bam! There she came yards in front of us heading my way. “Uh, I need to use the rest room. See you in a minute,” I screamed as I started to jump inside my “safety zone,” on the inside of the boys’ restrooms—no girl or cheerleader, cheap or righteous dared enter the boys’ restroom in my day for that was strictly grounds for being expelled from school.
I stood in the darkness behind the restroom door and heard her ask Donnie and “Oz,” “You saw Rick today?” “Wheww, that was close,” I mumbled as Donnie and “Oz,” gave her some nervous answer and she walked away. And these two friends never bothered to rescue me from the restroom or ask why I made such a slick get-away.
The rest of seventh-grade was a series of lies, “cloak and dagger,” activities to give Patsy the “dodge,” and you know what? I never had one crisis with her. There was this one time that Rick and I were standing at our lockers talking “young guy” things and Patsy strolled by and gave me a subtle grimace, but kept walking. Rick never asked what she meant and I never told him.
From Patsy Skinner to “the queen of Hamilton High School,” the now-late Starr Nix, a petite, spoiled, and beautiful blond who was also a cheerleader going steady with a Dwight Jones a/k/a “whipped puppy,” for how he meandered behind her everywhere she went in school.
She was, in more than my own opinion, but others, “the epitome,” of female design. That’s as far as I choose to go for I do not want Google AdSense to get their yellow warnings out to flag me when this is published, but Starr was as near-perfect as any female can ever be.
I longed to talk to her too. And failed on every attempt, both my own choice or by dares given to me by Donnie and “Oz.” The only response I ever got from Starr was a cute little wrinkling of her turned-up nose. Still I persisted. I wanted to actually know at some day’s end that I had actually talked to “a” cheerleader, any cheerleader. I was that dedicated to my selfish cause.
You know what true sadness is? Even a girl from my own class in 1970, a beautiful brunette, Jackie Williams, who is now Jackie Sims, married to an older friend of mine, never talked to me while we were in school, but years after graduation, she and I talked for almost a half-hour in our local Walmart one day, but this talk with a cheerleader did not count. I enjoyed it all the same.
I do not really know the “why” cheerleaders never took to me. I do wish one of them had told me what I didn’t have that other guys, the same background as me, had that I didn’t. No wonder that from 1967 through 1972 when I graduated, I was never really happy. I mean I was depressed on each day that God sent. And the nights before school, I was a literal “ball of dread,” for if I had been given a choice to finishing high school or quitting for my own sanity . . .I would have quit so quick that my name wouldn’t be remembered. It’s not remembered by my classmates today, so what would have been the difference?
Below is a list built by honesty and fueled by truth of the “10 Things That Worried Me about Cheerleaders From 1967 through 1972"
Our cheerleaders never learned how to "tumble"
This guy has an awesome responsibility
With all of the togetherness, what about "individuality?"
Honestly . . .
These are "my" thoughts and feelings from the years 1967 through 1972. I did not write this to "label" all cheerleaders everywhere, or say in the text, that all cheerleaders were like the ones mentioned in this story.
But . . .I didn't mislead you. The events in this story are true. Where are these cheerleaders today? Who knows? I used to know where Rick Skinner's sister got off to, but over the years, interests either increase or wane. Mine waned.
I did try to inject an air of humor with some events to give you a comical look at myself, not at those around me in this story.
I should have said this to the snooty cheerleaders with noses-in-the-air: "Hey, girls. Wake up! We are all living in Hamilton, Alabama, not New York City. We are considered the "rural" south in the nation, so face it. You are just a handful of country gals trying so hard to be cultured girls who wear cheerleader uniforms."
But I didn't. I didn't know such words in 1967.
Clannish – the cheerleaders in my day were always together. In school or out. No matter where I went, they went like packs of elite-purebred wolves with perfect white teeth with no braces, perfect, acne-free skin, perfect hair. They just hung together—only associating with other perfect girls and cheerleader wannabe’s who idolized these girls who were somehow, for some reason, held in the highest of esteem in our school.
Non-polite – rude can be used to describe these cheerleaders I knew in my high school years. Nameless guys like me were expected to always stop and let these girls go first. I didn’t mind that, but the minute one went in front of me, she would always stop in the door and chat with another cheerleader—snapping her gum, twirling her hair and not caring where I needed to be.
Fake smiling – was their specialty. As soon as a humble girl with a nice, genuine smile was elected to be a cheerleader, she magically-changed into a cold-hearted, uhhh, “person,” for lack of what I really wanted to say. I witnessed this happen so many times. I wondered if the cheerleaders took the “newbies,” and indoctrinated them into acting like them, the elite, perfect females?
Users – all of them. I was used, my buddies were used, and I mean by “used,” was the cheerleaders who needed heavy things lifted, were smart enough to lie to guys like me who were stupid enough to fall for their acts just so the cheerleaders wouldn’t break a precious nail.
Ignoring – was one of our cheerleaders’ favorite tools. For example. If one cheerleader were sitting in front of me and one at my back in study hall, when the teacher left, they would talk over me. And sometimes insist that I move or put my head down. And this is a good image for our school?
Self-serving – you remember me telling you that I witnessed nice, humble girls with genuine spirits who won a spot on the cheer squad? Well, to show you how “these” girls were changed into “social beasts,” I would immediately run-up to, or tell the winning girl on my bus (before she got too good to ride the bus) how proud of her that I was, she would just halfway fake smile and immediately look out the window. And this is a girl whom I had known for years.
“All about me” – narcissists were what our cheerleaders strived to be, and succeeded. That title, “All about me,” would make a great title for a modern-day teenage film (without vampires or zombies) to really expose just how shallow (some) cheerleaders can be.
Idolization – was the name of the game in my high school. Successful athletes and cheerleaders were idolized, or that was what our now-late principal, Joe Sargent told us on the classroom intercom one morning before class started. Our team had made it to round one of state play-off’s and here is a sample of what he said in 1971, my junior year. “Uhh, these football boys we got, uhh, have really done something special in getting to round one of the play-off’s, so I expect you all to really hold them up in the highest-respect today for they are all heroes!” (For getting to round one, the first round? Every team in the play-off’s made it to round one, for decency’s sake). And guess who made every trip with the team? You guessed it. The “elite with golden feet,” our blessed cheerleaders.
Gang time – each morning break. Each lunch time. There they would stand, together in a circle whispering, trading lipstick, gazing at themselves in their compacts, dressed in their cheerleader uniforms and this was not on the day for the pep rally. Not one teacher said one word to this special breed of girl. Oh, if us common people had been loved this way.
The Needy Monster – has long since taken his toll on most of “these” high school cuties. I know. I saw one of them last month and things that shouldn’t sag on a woman, was sagging, drooping, and almost touching the sidewalk. Her wrinkles made me feel sad for one moment, then I went about my day.
I should have “spilled my guts” with this story to a trained-psychiatrist, but I told you because there is another group whom I despise: psychiatrists.
Besides, I saved over $1200.00 for this one hour.