One in Twenty
Smarter people and better writers than I have beaten last week’s Supreme Court decisions to death.
“This set women’s rights back 150 years!” Is an exaggeration, but the Dobbs decision certainly turned back the calendar to the early ’60s. I know because I was there. Every year of high school, about ten girls became pregnant and dropped out of school. This is from a graduating class of 200 girls each year. Most of them married before the birth. The fathers dropped out of school as well. If you had “connections” in those days, a 16 year old could make a decent living in construction or in a factory without a high school diploma.
Ronnie Stoker was the butterfly on the 9th grade (city champion, by the way) medley relay team while I was the backstroker. Ronnie and Carol Myslewicz were an “item” from eighth grade on. Junior year, both dropped out of school, married, and became parents shortly thereafter. Ronnie went to work on the swing shift at the Chamberlain plant making artillery shells which not only paid well but was draft-deferred, a big deal as Vietnam heated up. Junior year of college, I stopped at a corner bar to pick up a six pack. Ronnie was sitting at the bar, downing shots-and-beers before going to work. “Don’t worry, Skip. I’ll sweat this out in a half hour working in the foundry.”
Ronnie looked about 40 years old. He and Carol had separated once but were back together . “I feel like I missed out on being a kid and having fun,” he said. We really didn’t have a lot in common anymore and I made an excuse and left Ronnie to his shots-and-beers.
My mother showed me Ronnie’s obituary in the Scranton Times in the early 1990’s. He was 45 years old when he died. The obit mentioned three kids all of whom were married and living living out-of-town. It did not mention Carol.
There was no modern birth control in 1963 and abortion was not only illegal but unthinkable in heavily-Catholic Scranton. Girls had a 1:20 chance of having a baby before graduating high school. At age 16, 17, or 18, many of my classmates were forced into adult life.
Thanks a lot, Supreme Court for bringing that back.
By Ed Dufton