My husband and I went to an exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society of ‘ 60’s memorabilia. In the first 10 minutes, I realized, if I opened up our basement to the public, we would have a pretty sweet ’70’s and ’80’s exhibit.
My first takeaway was nostalgic. lots of toys, telephones, fashions, album covers, LIFE magazine covers, all harkening back to my childhood. After that, it got kind of ugly.
Race riots, Vietnam, Charles Manson, the 1968 DNC, Kent State, JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, all of it gut-wrenching reminders of a child’s take on unsettled times.
And then it occurred to me that as things change, they really do stay the same. Today’s climate seems so divisive, so harsh, so ugly and yet in my 1960’s mind, I remember the same discomfort watching the news or hearing grown-ups talk while silently holding my mother’s hand.
This didn’t really restore my faith in humanity, except to say that, well we are still here. So there’s that.
And then came the fun part. The music in the background, just begging for us to dance, clap and sing out loud. The crazy clothes that looked like they stepped out of Laugh-In. The same John Romaine pocketbook that my mom used every day. The Jetson’s toys, the Princess phones, the 45 records that came inside the National Geographic magazine, that you could tear out and put on your record player! Yes, kids there really was such a thing.
Apparently, where I grew up was a key player in the creation of the Space Program, all top secret, of course. John Glenn and the Mercury astronauts can thank Southeastern Pennsylvania for much of their successful program. And Alan Sheperd, the first man in space can also thank us for his wife, Louise Brewer Sheperd who was from Kennett Square, PA! We were also a place where secret missiles were stashed during the Cold War. Yikes!
But my absolute favorite throw back a mere 50 years ago, was the instruction manual “How to be a Super Secretary!”
Here are some of the highlights:
- Hide your light under a bushel. Don’t take credit for any ideas you may have. Give them to your boss. If your boss does well, you move up with him. And even give your good ideas to other men. Your reputation as a good secretary will get you where you want to go.
- No matter how much you ask, your boss will never tell you what your failings are. Bosses are always nice people and just can’t tell you bad things about your performance. So it’s up to you to scrutinize your work.
- Keep your voice beautiful over the phone!
- Your office space is your kitchen! Keep it as tidy and clean as you would at home.
- Don’t be too smart, it’s overbearing.
- Never have a bad attitude. Keep that at home. Nobody wants to see that in the office. You always need to be pleasant and happy.
There were many more suggestions. It was a whole book kindly supplied by Remington typewriters! In the back of the book was a score sheet. You, or your boss, I’m not sure who, was supposed to rate you on a scale of 1 to 10 on all of these facets of your secretarial personality. Probably you had to do it because you know, your boss would never tell you if you were deficient.
I always thought I was born in the wrong decade. I love the clothes and movies and romantic times of the ’40’s and ’50’s. Now I’m not so sure. If my personality ( and affinity for an Oscar Madison lifestyle) stayed just as it is today, I would be getting fired every other week.
Thank God, I work for a woman boss (myself). I tell her how great I am all the time. She, on the other hand, has no problem pointing out my deficiencies, on a daily basis.
Thank God for change…..otherwise, how could we ever be smart enough … (and yes, I know things are sadly still the same…..)
“You Just have to Laugh………..”
©Cathy Sikorski 2016