My First Steady Girlfriend

I hope the teenagers of today have some of the fun we had in the 1950s. I can’t call our group a gang, because the word gang has come to denote troubled youths. We were a middle class group of friends that met at high school and at occasional school dances.

I don’t remember how I got to be coupled with Rochelle Schwartz. She was not the prettiest girl in the bunch, but she was pretty enough and had a nice figure. She was a good girl, as most were in the fifties. It was the era of flared felt skirts supported beneath by something called crinolines. We were steadies for a few years, during which we were never intimate. We were only about 15 years old, and light petting was the maximum among the ‘nice’ kids.

Rochelle was often known as ‘Schwartzie’, because there was another Rochelle in the group, Rochelle Zon. Zon told me, when she was 13, that she was going to be a doctor. She was a petite, pretty girl and yes, she became a successful doctor. Schwartzie played the piano and she won several talent contests, and later became a piano teacher.

Some of the most enjoyable times in my life, I shared with Schwartzie. For one thing, I was too young to drive, so we went on dates to movies or house parties on public transportation. Schwartzie’s father ran a small smoke shop. That’s what they were called before ‘convenience stores’ came to be. Her family lived upstairs from the store, and streetcar tracks ran by the front.

I lived in an upper-middle class neighbourhood about 20 blocks away, so I took the bus and streetcar to pick Rochelle up for a Friday night movie date. It was fun to meet her Dad in the store, then take Rochelle out the front of the store and board the tram together and have our evening out. Even when Rochelle was baby-sitting to earn money, I sat with her. Television had not happened yet, so we talked a lot, did homework, and just enjoyed being together – without sex.

Coming home after a party, dance, movie or babysitting was always fun. We’d get off the tram and she’d take me into the store, in dark after hours. We’d cuddle and kiss goodnight in the store, and I’d choose a car magazine off the rack and leave. I heard Rochelle married an accountant and moved to a small city a few hours away. Ours was an enjoyable relationship from beginning to end. I met her son recently. He was boldly gay, and almost identical to his mother in movements and speech.

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