wenty-five years ago the manner of dating and socializing were very much different from today. The younger generation will probably laugh at this, but here it goes.

Besides sports like softball and baseball and diving, what did young people do in their spare time to socialize? Boys and girls would walk around the village, two or three blocks, over and over and chit chat until they got tired. They would also sit by the beach under moonlight and simply chat. That was very pleasant as long as one was with the right company. Central Park also offered a suitable area for couples or groups of friends to "hang around."

Very casual dating was okay and acceptable in groups or outside the house. But once a boy showed more serious intentions with a girl, he was then, expected to formalize his relationship'. He had to write a letter to the parents asking for permission to visit the girl at her home. The father would respond either with a note of acceptance or objection.

Why would a father object? The girl was too young, the boy drank too much, the boy was known playboy or the boy did not have a job. Perhaps there was a family feud.

If the parents accepted, the boy could visit the girl at home from 7p.m. to 9p.m. He would sit inside and chat with his girl and the parents. Later he would be allowed some minutes outside for a quick goodnight kiss or two. (Writer's note: Believe it or not, even with this tight regime, there was an occasional pregnancy out of wedlock.)

After a year or two of visiting the house, the parents would either encourage the daughter to break the relationship of prod the boy to marriage. Parents who were early 7 o'clock sleepers tolerated these visits for a year only. Others were known to visit for seven to eight years.

A boy was ready for marriage after about two years of visiting and after he had enough money saved. NO PARENT EVER PUT UP A PARTY FOR THEI R DAUGHTER. It was like giving away your daughter. They would say, "you give him a wife, but you don't give him a bed." No way! The boy would stand all the expenses. Girls usually got married at 16 and boys around 20.

The most popular way of socializing was by going to occasional dances. Boys who had girlfriends were chaperoned by the mother or some close aunt of the girl. They could hang around anywhere. Girls who were not steady with boys had to sit inside the dance hall where the boys would come and ask them to dance. If a girl liked you, you could draw her close to dance. If she did not, or if a stranger, she would dance but at a fairly conservative distance. If too close, mother would give the girl a "sour eye" and she knew what to do if she wanted to stay at the dance till the end.

Sailing was another great way of socializing, especially on Sundays. A boy with a sailing boat would load up a crew of boys and girls and go sailing in front of the village for two or three hours. (Excellent group dating.)

Yes, 25 years ago there was no television and no discotheques, but people found ways to socialize and have fun. No better, no worse, just different and healthy.

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