Where the boys are

March 31, 2016

innocence-of-youthIt was 1960 when Connie Francis was signed for the film, Where the Boys Are, a movie that marked the end of the innocence of youth, 1950s style.

The plaintive yearning of the song as she sung it was well known to young girls of that era, girls who wouldn’t say blow job out loud, even if it was what they did with their steady boyfriends in the back seat of an old car. That longing for the fairy tale of true love was not only a hallmark of the movie, but a hallmark of an entire generation. Our generation and maybe half a generation before us.

Every little girl longed for true love and had faith, even, that she would find her true love. I know I took it for granted that one day I’d meet my own true love. I never doubted it. It was a given of our generation, that we’d partner up with a boy and live happily ever after.

In reality, though, it was a bit more complicated than that.

Young girls who had feelings for other girls had no idea what to do with them and how to deal with the fact that what they desired didn’t fit the fairy tale norms of the day.

Women who longed to do something other than raise children could be spinsters, maybe, and nurses and secretaries. Ambitions greater than that were uncommon.

Women who wanted to do something in addition to raising children had no access to childcare, not unless their mothers lived nearby.

innocence-of-youthThe innocence of youth back then seems almost impossible when we look at our world today. When we were young, our horizons were limited and our view was blurred by the mores of the day.

I don’t know, was it so bad?  The strides made by feminists and by a changing world brought about more opportunities for women, and that’s a good thing.

But we paid a price for that, we did, and when I look around I have to ask myself if it was worth it.

Because in the complex world of the 21st century, the safe haven of innocence looks like a good place to be.

The song’s here if you’d like to hear it. I’ll bet you didn’t know Neil Sedaka co-wrote it.



46 comments on “Where the boys are
  1. I did know Neil Sadaka wrote it…I had an old Connie Francis album that I played on my turn table over and over again! Now, I will sing this song all day. Enjoyed the post, Carol!

  2. I was singing this in my head as soon as I saw your title. I guess we all question progress. Although, there is something wonderfully nostalgic in the innocence of the past, I often think my mom and Nana thought the same thing. But each generation has it’s own problems and issues. I wouldn’t want to go back necessarily, but I sure would like a bit of respect and decorum back in the world (is that fuddy-duddy?)!

  3. Robin Masshole Mommy says:

    I think life must have been simpler back in the old days. I we just evolve with the times because we have to.

  4. Rena says:

    I remember hearing that song although I’m a little behind. I guess like everything else there are pros and cons, but I have to think that it was worth it when our daughter’s can become whatever they dream if the work hard, people don’t have to hide behind conformity, and women don’t have to have children just to seem normal.There are trade-offs to everything.

  5. There are really pro and cons to the days when life was simplier.

  6. Barbara says:

    I don’t miss those days at all. It was quite a hypocritical time for women. I guess I was born a hippie.

  7. Beautifully written and articulated. Sometimes I feel now with technology and the speed at which our world news hits us, that our children’s innocence is lost at very young age. There was something comforting about living in ignorant bliss.

  8. I honestly miss the innocence. I’m grateful for the strides forward that women have been able to achieve: truly grateful. I count myself a feminist, in the purest definition of that word. But I prefer the world I grew up in, to what my 18 yr. old daughter has to face. Still, if I’ve ever met a young woman who is *up* to that challenge, my strong, beautiful, courageous, justice-loving girl is. Where the boys are is barely even on her radar.

  9. This was not my generation, but you painted a nice picture for me and I can only see that there was some innocence there, but also some challenges. Things aren’t easy for women but I’m not sure men have it any easier. I see my boys struggling to stifle emotions and keep their feelings tucked away because “real men don’t cry” and are ashamed to feel anything but anger. Anger is masculine, you know. It’s all so sad. Geez, I guess I got off track here with this rant. Sorry about that. Anyway, great post!

  10. I love this post. I do think things were a bit simpler when I grew up- –I didn’t think about the future as much as I probably should have but happily my life has worked out very well. 🙂 Thanks for an inspiring post.

  11. Nancy Hill says:

    Ever the contrarian, I am not so sure that Peyton Place was not a better snapshot of reality back then than Donna Reed. Groucho said of Donna, and I think it applies to a good deal of 50s nostalgia, “I knew her BEFORE she was a virgin.” Still, I loved listening to radio as a little girl. “You Are My Sunshine” and “Going to the Chapel” type stuff captured moments of innocence and optimism.

  12. I miss how simpler things were back then.I strive to make it simpler every day and keep it old school. I am lucky to be home for my kids in their early years. That’s a priority for me.

  13. Deanna says:

    What a great post. I love thinking back to simpler times, although in many ways things were not simpler for women. It would be great if we could combine the two eras in some way. I like that my daughter can make her own decisions but I wish times were simpler.

  14. sue says:

    Hi Carol! Yes I agree the women’s movement certainly gave us freedom to think and do what we wanted to, however, I feel that perhaps we went too far. Life is so hectic now and I think women feel that more is expected of them with this new found equality. Women are under more pressure these days to be Superwoman and she really doesn’t exist.

  15. andrea says:

    Oh lawddy now you’re really makin me feel real old – I remember hearing that song on the radio for years

  16. Helene says:

    I do miss a simpler, more innocent time, but you are spot on in your description of women’s roles. I’m gratified that we’ve made progress but we still have a ways to go.

  17. Toni McCloe says:

    Yes, things were simpler back then but not necessarily better. I remember my mother being home every single day of my childhood – she didn’t work. She never even had a social security number. I think the best scenario will happen when women have a choice.

  18. Silly Mummy says:

    Never heard of this film or song. The point you make is really interesting. I’m not sure. I suspect that things were never exactly innocent or simple, just that a lot was more hidden, so there is that. & I think that many steps made have been important and necessary. That said, I do think there have been some problems created by our progress & modern attitudes. I think the idea that you can ‘have it all’ is often unrealistic and creates a lot of dissatisfaction in modern life as people chase that elusive ideal. I think that it is right that women (& men) should have all options available to them – your options should not be restricted by gender. However, I don’t think that saying you should have all the choices available to you amounts to the same as saying that you can literally do all of them & don’t have to pick priorities, & I think that is a flaw in modern thinking. I also think that we have become very focused on the idea that there is some kind of perfect out there and if you don’t have it, you quit and move on. I think in the past, people didn’t feel that was such an option so they worked at things. I believe there is merit in that. It was never right that people felt they had to stay trapped in things that would never be right. But it is also not right that people tend now to believe everything must be ideal at all times and should not require any work, and therefore there is a constant cycle of quitting, change and grass is greener syndrome.

  19. In our over-sexualized society, kids don’t have the opportunity for that kind of innocence. That’s the bad part. But you are right, we are more open about what path people can take. Enjoyed the post.

  20. Monica says:

    I did not know Neil Sedaka wrote this song. Although I was just a wee too young, but only by a few years to have listened to this, I have older sisters who listened to this song incessantly.
    Great post, I really enjoyed reading it and yes, I sometimes long for the innocence of the 1950s

  21. Amy Jones says:

    Loved the post, i always admire how innocent kids can be, i often found joy in the kind of answers they give whenever they are asked adult questions. its just amazing the amount of love they can give.

  22. Angie Scheie says:

    Great insight; I wish we could have the best of both worlds you know?

  23. I grew up in and loved that era and I wish with all my heart that my grandchildren were growing up in that world. The safety and security it provided are priceless. Maybe I was a bit of a rebel, but I graduated from high school, got married, had children, and went to college. I was considered a flower child in the 60’s. I picketed, worked with CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) and Planned Parenthood. I fought for women’s rights along side other women of all races and creeds. Sometimes today, I wonder what my grandchildren have to fight for because so much seems to be handed to them. I think the fight was worth it and made me who I am today.

  24. Elizabeth O. says:

    Oh how simple life was back then, you study, become old enough to find a husband and grow your family. That’s pretty much it. I wouldn’t say it was a bad thing, but I’m also glad we became more welcoming to various possibilities, the chance to give our daughters to dream big and actually succeed in reaching those dreams.

  25. Nicole Escat says:

    Good to read this post. It’s worth it, it’s cool.

  26. Dana says:

    I do think we’re in a better place now, although I love the stories my parents tell about their childhood and courtship periods.

  27. Quin says:

    I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to that time. Opportunity was virtually non-existent for black women. Today, we have our problems, true. But we also have a voice, too. That’s progress.

    • Yes, so very true. When I wax eloquent about nostalgia, Michael always says, “sure, because we are white” and I always say “and you are male”. The experiences are way different. I think, though, that in today’s 21st century world it seems like there is way too much ugliness. Then again, I think of the south and civil rights and I can’t believe people were THAT ugly. Maybe what I really mean is that I want to walk around in a rose-colored-glasses world because it’s just too painful to live in the one we have. Thanks for spurring some good thought for me this morning, Quin.

  28. Things have definitely changed since the old days. Some things have gotten better but some things have gotten considerably worse.

  29. Emma white says:

    Very interesting post, thank you for sharing with us all x

  30. Virginia says:

    I grew up a little later, but I feel like things are still different. Times were simpler….But regarrdless, I am living my life and making the best of it!

  31. I searched for the song and Iam hearing right now. Im so glad that we have more opportunities now, not every women likes the same lifestyle so I thnks for that

  32. RaNesha says:

    Wow great history lesson I learn something new daily.

  33. Rosey says:

    Was it a movie too? I recognize the title but I can’t remember the song.

  34. I think I would have loved to live in the 50s. It seems so innocent and fun. I wish we could have a little more of that in our lives now.

  35. I’m unfamiliar with this song (it’s a bit before my time, I’m afraid!). However, I gave it a listen and I quite like it! It sure does take me to a very different time and place, which I love. I think the thing with time is to look back, never forget, and take the lessons you can to avoid repeating mistakes unnecessarily. But there’s little point in wondering if it was better back then or now… because it just IS. At least that’s my two cents!

  36. Lisa Rios says:

    Such a wonderful post. I just remember how simple everything was during my childhood & how complicated the life today is for our kids. But I am sure not everyone would want to go back to that time again!

  37. That’s exactly what I think, sometimes. Loved the post!!

  38. Mardene Carr says:

    I guess it depends on who you speak to on the subject. Some might say it was simpler but others would not want to go back there at all

  39. Liv says:

    Life seems like it was simpler back then, but I have to wonder if it really was.

  40. Hannah A says:

    I’ve never heard of this song but it certainly raises some interesting question. I think we have definitely traded opportunities for innocence in a lot of ways.

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