Monday, January 23, 2012

I Earned A Mrs. Degree - Just Like My Father Wanted Me To

When I was in high school I was on what was known as the Business Track.  The courses I took provided me with the knowledge and skills to become a competent secretary or at the very lease a good housewife.
No calculous or algebra for me.  But I did learn how to balance a check book and the difference between a debit and a credit.
No macro or micro economics for me.  But from my home economics class, Mrs. O'Brien taught us that when we had to resort to opening a can of veggies instead of making fresh, a pat of butter in the pot would make the dish more appealing.  I also learned how to operate a Singer and sew a straight seam.

No Spanish or French for me. But I did learn the language of stenography and could transcribe at a rate of over 140 words a minute.

My steno and typing teacher, Miss Yasenchak,  thought that I would make an excellent secretary.

My favorite teacher was Clarence Jolly Jr. He taught my favorite subject, English.  Mr. Jolly inspired me to dream of becoming a newspaper reporter. 

Being the oldest of six, I had a lot of experience with little kids and actually quite enjoyed them. My father's cousin, Dominica was a teacher and she thought that I should pursue that dream. 

My first job, though, turned out to be none of the above.  But that is for another post. 

Miss Yasenchak was quite disappointed when she found out that I would not be utilizing my excellent secretarial skills. 

Mr. Jolly, thought that I should have gone for that interview with the local newspaper. 

Even though Dominica was willing to help me out, she had no luck convincing my father that college and teaching were areas in which I could be successful. 

My father's philosophy was, "You'll only wind up getting married anyway.  You don't need college for that." 

For a long time I thought about going back to school and getting a degree.  I started taking a few classes here and there.  At the time it seemed very important to me, getting that degree.

But somewhere along the way I lost the desire and it didn't seem so important to me anymore.

Perhaps my father was right in some ways. After all,  Life 101 is not and could not be taught in any university.

Since I have a membership to, I decided that I would try to find out some more information about Anna, the woman whose diary I am reading.   I found out that she was born around 1902.  So she would have been about 27 years old when she was writing this diary.  I also found out that Anna went to college.

I will reveal more as the day's entries go on.

Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary:

Wednesday - January 23, 1929
Girls from Kearney to play bridge.  Served luncheon.  Marie came for supper.  Louis I. and wife came in evening.  Also Jewel & Rick played bridge.


  1. Growing up, education and bridge were mega-themes on Fellowship Street.  To the best of  my knowledge, and JT can back me up, out of nine siblings, there are nine B.A.'s,  five or six M.A.'s, a doctor, and a lawyer.  We all played bridge, EXCEPT for JT, it being a rite of passage into adulthood, occurring for me around age twelve.  One had to be able to hold one's tongue, in addition to one's cards, in order to gain entrance to bridge.  So civilized, as Anna might have intoned.

  2. As I've mentioned on my blog, I'm an addict. Combining the diary with ancestry would send me into a whole other level of addiction. :)

  3. And on the subject of further education, I had always planned to go and was encouraged to do so by my parents, but after a transient and emotionally draining senior year of high school, decided to take a year off. A year during which I met my husband-to-be and now 25 years later, still occasionally toy with the idea of going back. If I were to start now, I would probably be paying off student loans with my Social Security check. ;)

  4. LifeinContradictionsJanuary 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Always "and then you'll go to college" in my family.  The what exactly that would lead to was not discussed - or perhaps I just told some story to my parents to satisfy them and then changed the subject (very very likely).  Both of my grandmothers (born in 1906 and 1908) went to college and had teaching degrees.  This was a BIG deal to both of my grandfathers.  My parents, and their four siblings collectively, all have/had college degrees.  Hasn't really changed the struggles they (and we) all faced - economically or otherwise. 

  5. Mark is right - there was an assumption that you would go to college (even though our parents were not college graduates - my dad dropped out of high school during the Depression but got his GED after the war).  How college was to be paid for was a complete unknown and the 'rents could not help with that at all.  I also agree with Sarah - I am not sure that having all those college degrees has helped with struggles among my siblings  - emotional / relational for some of the sibs and/or financial  for others.  Life is tough, with or without a degree.

  6. Its amazing how different your schooling was to mine. We learnt nothing like balancing a check book, and a lot about algebra. I think it might be sensible to have a balance between the two, so that you learn fact but also real world skills in schools

  7. For me, who began at Cal Poly, Pomona, in September of 1970, and graduated in December of 1979 (pretty much took up that decade), from San Jose State, it was a continuous ride, except for my 21-month military service.   It was NEVER about the product (degree) and ALWAYS about the process.  Heck, I was undeclared as a major until 1978, at which time I assessed my classes I had taken, and determined that I had already enough units for a minor in English (eleven classes-huge surprise), and only needed a few more for my ultimate degree in humanities.  Most enjoyable years of my life, though this past year has been the equivalent of about half of those ten years of the seventies, combined.  Check back in another year...

  8. It is so true about the high cost of student loans.  When my kids went to college, it was still affordable for us to be able to help them out.  But even still, then there were loans for M.A's and such.  One of the things that I did not know was that if a person is in the position of having to declare bankruptcy, a debt that cannot be forgiven is a student loan  and a salary can be garnished.  Scary.

  9. Especially in these hard times.  My daughter, who has her masters, was laid off from her job two years ago. During that time, she went back to school, and got her teaching certificate.  Needless to say, she is struggling, still not able to get a job.  And when I think about the thousands of young people who will be soon be graduating, thus also thrust out into the pool of people looking for work, it is very scary.