In the unlikely event I’ve not mentioned this before, I was raised Southern Baptist in Louisiana back in the fifties. That theology would pretty much pass for Christian Evangelical now, not to mention the “What will the neighbors think?” factor. No drinking, dancing, or provocative dress such as short or tight skirts, shorts, or swimsuits for women or girls. Most church members gave lip service to the rules and went on their way, but my Dad fervently embraced any rule that backed him up in rendering his daughter’s lives joyless.
Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those extreme cults that required long hair, dresses for girls, and no makeup, a fact I was truly thankful for. I soon understood that most sin resulted from trashy women leading men astray since “boys will be boys.” The subject of sex was off limits, except in sermons with scriptures and admonitions against fornication and iniquity, which flew way over my head as a young child. After a tentative question or two that seemed headed toward sex, I learned “That’s none of your business.” That was wildly incongruous coupled with the admonition we could talk to our parents about anything. I soon learned any question had consequences. By the time I actually garnered any true information about sex, I had amassed a fascinating compendium of misinformation from my friends, who were as clueless as I.
Way too many times, Mother rushed to turn the television off if it appeared a woman was about to go into labor. Should Red Skelton get too risque, the screen went black, which was a real shame, since we had no idea what he was referring to. The point was, anything suggesting sex was a sin. That promiscuous laboring woman and the evil Red Skelton had to be punished.
Fun was suspect, particularly fun not experienced and executed under the watchful eyes of a parent or stuffy chaperone at the youth group. I soon learned it was a sin to even ask about attending a dance or the school’s end of year party at the lake. “Don’t you have any morals?”
I knew better than to give a truthful response, “uh…..no. I just want to go the party or go swimming with the other kids.”
Nubile girls parading around in the modest swimsuits of the sixties was sure to incite uncontrollable lust in the hearts of schoolboys. Hayrides were pure iniquity. Imagine carelessly throwing boys and girls together to ride around on a wagon full of hay after dark unleashing their devilish hormones!