Omaha, NE, 1956:
I was 5 years old. I lived in a four family apartment building on the outskirts, at that time, of Omaha. There are single family homes to the east of me, and nothing, but absolutely nothing, of cornfields and the periodic tornado to the west. (Tornados? The one in the Wizard ain’t got nothin’ on the real thing!) The Dairy Queen was only a nickel and the drive in theatre was THE place to be. The local supermarket had coupons for free admission to the driver of the car to the drive in, and kids under 12 were free. As my father was a ‘traveling salesman’, I think my mom and I saw more 50’s MGM musicals than anyone.
I can very vividly recall the day my mother went downstairs to retrieve a load of laundry from the dryer. As she had more to bring upstairs and fold and sort, she asked if I was ok, and disappeared again to the basement laundry. Here, before me, was this enormous pile of freshly laundered bras, panties, and my old man’s boxers and tee shirts.
I do not remember exactly how long it took, but I soon found myself totally fascinated by this white, cotton contraption that my mother wore to cover her breasts. I tried it on. I probably had it on backwards or upside down, or inside out, but I had it on and it felt right, as if this is what I was supposed to wear. Wearing a bra was right for me!
When my mother returned from the mysterious, dark, basement place known as ‘the laundry’, she asked if I was ok, and what I had been doing in the three minutes she had been gone. I told her. I told my mom that I had tried ‘this thing’ on.
Me: “yes…it was fun”
Mom: “Well, ok, but those are for girls, not for boys”.
Me: “ Oh, OK”
And that was the last of my experimenting with my gender presentation at that time.
I DO however recall, while in Omaha, this kid named Danny who lived in the same building as me. He was close to my age and we used to do all kinds of boy/kid things together. Our families did things together . I remember Danny’s father took me hunting for my first time. And our families went water skiing together on a local lake. This is where I first realized that Danny had an older sister! Looking back, she could not have possibly been more than 10 years old, all ankles and elbows, but how wonderful she looked in that 1950’s style, one piece bathing suit. THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO WEAR! That image stayed in my head night after night, after night, for years! I would fall asleep with the dream of me wearing that bathing suit. But of course, those were for girls, not for boys. Maybe I should have been a girl?
Red Bank, New Jersey, 1958:
Now 7 years old and in a new town and a new school. My only real friend/playmate was a girl named Christine. We’d played together often for a few weeks until my father came home and decided I should be with guys, not girls. I often wonder whatever became of her.
Shrewsbury NJ, 1959:
My parents bought a new house in this idyllic suburban town, and I started the 3rd grade in another new school. New kids, made a few new friends, and I started raiding my mothers wardrobe on a regular basis, certainly every chance I had. Poor woman had no idea what was going on in her closet and dresser every time she left the house. It was fun, it was exciting and I really liked the way I looked. This continued all through my elementary school days. I remember the one time my younger brother ‘caught’ me. Dumb me forgot to lock the bedroom door. There I was in mom’s heels and hose, and a short little car coat she had that I used as a dress, and my brother laughing his butt off screaming “I’m telling, I’m telling”. My heart pounded, my face turned a brilliant red. I ‘de-girled’ in record time and finally convinced my brother I was just trying a Halloween costume. I guess he bought it, because mom never said anything about it.
Shrewsbury NJ, 1963
Sixth grade class play. ‘A Mid Summer’s Night Dream’. All the ‘guys’ had to wear black tights and short tunics. WELL SIGN ME UP! TWICE! I WANT IN THIS PLAY! I kept and wore those tights for I don’t know how many years! I remember coming home from school, getting rid of school clothes, putting on those tights with a long, white shirt. Mom wasn’t sure what to make of it, but never really said anything—to me—she did mention it to my father however, who quickly put the kibosh on my ever wearing tights again.