Class of ’67

Janet McClure was a geeky little Mormon girl, who leaves her sheltered elementary years, spent in an all-white, homogeneous Mormon environment, and heads to the ruckus and rowdy central city junior and senior high schools.

“I started writing a book about my youth and family, mainly to hand down to my grandchildren. But as I went along, the story began to weave together the rich tapestry of that era. The vibrant life of kids from the east side mingling with those from the west side of the tracks, the greasers and the betas, the geeks and the popular kids. The story then continued into the Viet Nam War years, my college years. The ‘60s shaped my life and my philosophy on life. This is a story of my family, school, and life.”

The book is dedicated to my South High graduating Class of ’67; my sister’s South High Class of ’62, and my mother’s South High Class of ’38. On South High!

Jan’s prior books include “It Starts with an Idea,” a fun romp through the adventure of her start-up, Intelic. “It Starts with an Idea” also provides software engineers, managers, and CEOs insight into how to build software that is high performance, scalable, reliable. Her children’s book titled “The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish” provides a simplified explanation of the California water wars and the need to be good stewards of our environment. Both are available on http://www.amazon.com in printed and Kindle versions.

“Class of ’67” is limited distribution. $8.00 includes shipping and handling. To request a copy of the book,  click here.

Sample – Summertime 1961

I awoke at 7 a.m. to the sound of the drums. Boom, ba-da boom, ba-da, boo-boo-boo-boom. It was the beat of the South High Pep Club, who would be practicing at Liberty Park every morning for the next two weeks. The park was very near to our house – close enough that the drum beat echoed through my bedroom’s open window.

“Argh,” I thought as I tried to pull the covers over my head. My sister Kathy, five years older me and soon a senior at South High, would already be at the park, going through the routine with the other Pep Club girls. But for me, it was supposed to be a lazy summer morning, and I had planned to sleep in.

I would be starting junior high soon, and needed my sleep. We had only two weeks left until school started, and I hadn’t wanted to be woken up early.

Then I heard the pans crashing in the kitchen and knew Mom was making her oatmeal. She always ended up making a huge noise in the kitchen when she was trying to get her small oatmeal pan out from under the bigger pans for her early morning breakfast before going to work.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded into the kitchen.

“Really, Mom?” I asked. “Can’t someone sleep in around here?”

“Now that you’re up,” she said brightly, “make my coffee. OK? I need to get to work.”

My mother, Clarice, unlike almost every other mother in Salt Lake City, Utah, had decided to go to work when I was in fifth grade, instead of being a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t sure why. We had plenty of money. In fact, other than the Ferros, whose father was a lawyer and who lived in a mansion, we seemed to have more money than any other family in our neighborhood. That was because my dad, George William McClure, (who everyone called “Bill” because his father was also named George McClure), was Scotch, and always paid cash for everything: his cars, his houses. This house was one he could afford for cash. Other homes in more prestigious neighborhoods would have required down payments and mortgages. That was not for Dad. He didn’t even own a charge card. It was only cash, cash, cash.

It was how he was raised. He had lived through the Great Depression, when the banks defaulted and people lost their entire savings. Furthermore, his father, my Grandpa McClure, really was Scotch, having been born in Glasgow, Scotland. One day my sister Kathy and I were at Grandma and Grandpa McClure’s house. Grandpa was sleeping on the couch and Grandma was painting pretty black ink flower petal designs on a silver platter to use as a serving tray. Kathy asked Grandma if she could paint some of the design. There was a pattern on the tray that you just needed to paint inside the lines.

Just then Grandpa, in his sleep, said, “Don’t let her do it. She’ll paint all circles and squares!”

Grandma said, “Oh, George. Wake up!”

Kathy went over to Grandpa to shake him awake, and he jumped up off the couch and rushed to the player piano in the corner of the room, crouched down, and opened the compartment at the bottom where the old pump pedals used to be and where the music scrolls were kept. He kept his wallet tucked up in an empty space inside the piano. He was checking to make sure his wallet hadn’t been stolen. He kept his wallet in the piano and the rest of his money under his mattress.

“Oh, George!” complained Grandma.

But that event illustrated to me how my Dad was raised and why he didn’t trust bank loans and credit cards. The Great Depression had only made it worse.

Years later, I found out that it wasn’t for money that Mom had decided to go back to work. She had married Dad shortly after graduating from South High School. She had opted to get a two-year high school degree, a choice offered during that time, so that she could start working full-time as soon as possible, to not be a burden on her family. Her father had been a railroad engineer but, like many during the Great Depression, he was out of work. During high school, my grandmother would walk to South High School and meet Mom after school, and together they walked the three to four miles to West High School where Grandma had taken a janitorial job. Grandma and Mom would scrub and polish the floors and do other chores, then walk home. After Mom graduated from high school, she worked as a sales clerk at the Paris Company, an upscale department store in downtown Salt Lake.

During that time, Mom met Dad at “The Dances” one weekend. “The Dances” were held every weekend at a dance hall on State Street. (Later the old dance hall was converted into a stage theater, and was where my future husband, Mike, and I had our first date, seeing a live performance by the rock band, Iron Butterfly.) “The Dances” were well attended, and many couples my parents had first met at “The Dances” remained friends over the years, including Bud and Della Pitts and Ruby and Earl Camp.

Dad was twenty-seven, and Mom just over nineteen. Dad was a very nice looking man, strong and tanned. Dad had a good job and a car, and offered Mom security, important for a child of the Depression. She married Dad the next year and quit her job, since men of that era were always the sole providers. Being older, Dad was very set in his ways and demanding.

For example, he was a traveling salesman, and wanted his shirts ironed and folded a certain way, so that he could easily scoop two or three shirts up from his drawer and put them directly into his suitcase. Every shirt was white with short sleeves. His drawers had to be organized just so – socks here, underwear there. Everything was like that in our home.

Dad wanted his dinner on the table at 5:30 p.m. nightly. Just before dinner, he’d go into the bathroom to wash his hands, so that was a time to be sure you weren’t using the bathroom.

One time Mom was washing out some of her dainties in the sink, and forgot to rinse them out before 5:25 p.m. Dad went into the bathroom to wash his hands, and returned mad that he couldn’t wash his hands. (I guess he didn’t want to share with the dainties.) His domineering must have made Mom mad, because the next day, Mom and Kathy hauled the big steel wash bucket up from downstairs. It barely fit in the bathroom. They filled it with soapy water, and both put a bunch of their underwear in to soak. Then they went about cooking dinner, and waited for Dad to go wash his hands. We heard yelling – he’d almost fallen into the big wash tub! He came out mad, but Mom said sweetly, “Well, you didn’t want us to use the sink.” Dad dropped the discussion. Mom didn’t wash her items out at that time if she could help it, but she’d made her point. But he was still a ‘50s husband.

Mom felt, through the years, that she hadn’t had time to discover who she really was. After over twenty years of being a wife and stay-at-home mom, she yearned for more, and wanted to work.