I have been watching the show “Glee” on the Fox network since it debuted this Fall. It’s brought back a lot of memories about my days in Glee Club when I was in Junior High School, and although some things remain the same, other things are TOTALLY different.
Our Glee Club director was the Music teacher at the school. She was very strict with us. It was rumored that she had spent many years in the Army because of the way she ruled with an iron fist. I'm not sure if that rumor was ever verified, but sometimes Glee Club felt like Boot Camp!
Each year, all the girls had to try out, and if you made it into the club, you received the following letter on a mimeographed sheet of paper. (Remember mimeograph paper? It had a distinctive smell, and the print came out colored purple.)
CONGRATULATIONS! You have been accepted as a member of the Girls’ Glee Club for this year. Rehearsals are held on Thursdays from 11:10 to 12:00 in Room 28, with an occasional rehearsal after school. You are expected to attend all rehearsals. It is your responsibility to find out whether or not there is a rehearsal scheduled. Attendance is taken at rehearsals, and no one is excused from rehearsal if they are in school. Too many girls will be waiting to be placed in Glee Club, if you skip rehearsal to do homework, study for a test, etc.
You are expected to keep all music in a folder, which may be purchased in any stationery or drug store for 12-15 cents. I prefer the folders with 3 metal rings attached, and the color to be medium blue. If you forget your folder, you DON’T report to rehearsal. Take a zero.
The rule for dress at assemblies is as follows:
- a long, black maxi-skirt (which our girls usually make themselves)
- a white blouse (long or short sleeves – ruffles, etc. something feminine looking. I’m sure you have such a blouse in your wardrobe at home.)
-dark shoes – no sneakers!!!
-various colored scarves- orange, brown, gold, yellow for Thanksgiving, red or green for Christmas, red or blue for Memorial Day (These scarves are worn at the neck of the blouse to add a little color to the season.)
We have some exceptionally fine singers this year. It is a very large club, and as I said previously, many girls are on the waiting list. Don’t make it necessary for me to ask you to leave rehearsal because of whispering, chewing gum, poor attendance, forgetting music and other silly reasons. I don’t want to replace you, unless you leave me no other alternative.
Let’s have a successful year!
I think you can get a feel from reading this letter just how "no nonsense" Mrs. Baker was. Kind of funny to lay out all these rules and then end with a cheery "Let's have a successful year!"
I love how it is implied that every girl had the ability to make herself a skirt! Of course, back then sewing was still taught in Home Ec classes. I also love how Mrs. Baker was so sure that we each had at least one white, feminine blouse in our wardrobes, along with an array of colorful scarves.
Other than the dress code, what strikes me as the biggest difference between Glee Club then and now is that it was considered a privilege to be a part of Glee Club, rather than the way the TV show depicts Glee Club as only for outcasts and losers. Maybe it had a lot to do with the way Mrs. Baker treated it. (Quite frankly, I'm not sure there ever really was a waiting list of hopefuls just waiting for one of us to snap our gum too often, or forget our music enough times to get kicked out so that they could take our places in the Club.)
The other big difference is that the boys had their own separate Glee Club. No Co-Ed singing back then!!! Oddly enough, I remember being part of a singing group in grade school that included both boys and girls. I guess they figured that the younger kids still looked upon the opposite sex as something they could catch "cooties" from, but by Jr. High those "cooties" were darned magnetic.
Here’s a grainy photo of some of us onstage, in our “maxi-skirts” and "feminine" blouses:
Instead of the colorful scarves, Mrs. Baker had us wear pastel colored blouses for this particular Spring concert. Don't we all look like Marcia Brady?
This is Mrs. Baker receiving a bouquet of roses after a performance. (She's the one in the floral skirt.) There were so many girls in the Glee Club, that we couldn't all fit on the stage. Some of the girls had to stand on the stairs leading up to it. You can see them to the left of the flag.
The funny thing is, nowadays I’m a member of a community chorus and what do we wear for concert attire? White blouses and long black skirts!
The really funny thing is that back then, when most of the girls' skirts were homesewn, mine was store bought due to lack of sewing skills, but now, when most of the women in my chorus buy their skirts, mine is homesewn!